Kazakhstan
News Bulletin
Released weekly by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
www.kazakhembus.com
                                               
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No 3 February 7, 2008

POLITICS

President Nazarbayev delivers annual Address to the People of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan’s ruling party actively implements its anticorruption strategy

ECONOMY

JSC Halyk SavingBank Receives Euromoney Plaudit
Kazakhstan plans new aluminium, steel plants
IKEA enters Kazakhstan

OTHER NEWS

First Ever in-depth English Language Guide to Kazakhstan to be released in March
Falconry tradition soars back


POLITICS

President Nazarbayev delivers annual Address to the People of Kazakhstan

On Wednesday President Nursultan Nazarbayev delivered his annual Address to the people of Kazakhstan announcing a number of important initiatives. The focal points of his speech were economic development, further political modernization and democracy, social security and strengthening of Kazakhstan’s international alliances.

“Kazakhstan’s further industrialization on the basis of our joining the community of the world’s 50 most competitive nations and forming a select group of 30 corporate leaders should remain our primary goal”, the President emphasized.

On the political front, “political parties, NGOs and other civil society institutions” should play a more active role “in developing an up-to-date political system in Kazakhstan”, which should combine “universally recognized principles of democratic development and values of our society.

"Our country has achieved a new level of international recognition. OSCE’s unanimous decision on electing Kazakhstan the chair of the organization in 2010 is a paramount evidence” of the country’s growing importance, President Nazarbayev said speaking of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.

To support Kazakhstan’s new and important role as the chairman of Europe’s largest security organization, President Nazarbayev initiated a new program, “Road to Europe”, which will facilitate “promoting economic cooperation, attracting new technologies and management expertise and also assist in improving our legislation and setting up the agenda for our chairmanship in the OSCE”.

The republic also plans to further strengthen its position as an active participant in the international fight against terrorism and religious extremism.

The Embassy of Kazakhstan will shortly launch a Special News Bulletin to cover the Address in detail.


Kazakhstan’s ruling party actively implements its anticorruption strategy

With reference to a news piece by the Interfax-Kazakhstan

According to Nur Otan’s deputy chair, Mr. Sergei Gromov, the party is to set up a network of public councils in the regions to implement its strategy on the fight against corruption.

"We plan to bolster anticorruption efforts of the civil society by establishing public anti-corruption councils as support centers,” Gromov announced at a press briefing in Astana.

"The councils will welcome representatives of political organizations, civil society and the media,” Gromov said adding that Nur Otan members in Majilis (Lower Chamber of the Parliament) and Maslikhats (regional legislatures) will be extensively involved in councils’ activity. Nur Otan’s public offices and party’s hot lines would be also actively used, according to Gromov.

"All facts of corruption practices will be reported to the police,” he said.

Earlier the party announced the “Ten Smashing Blows on Corruption” campaign


ECONOMY

JSC Halyk SavingBank Receives Euromoney Plaudit

Dow Jones Newswires
 
Joint Stock Company 'Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan' has been recognised as "A Leading Bank in Corporate Governance in Emerging Europe" in a corporate governance survey conducted by Euromoney of 146 companies.

Martin Born, Director for CEE, Russia and CIS, Euromoney, said: "The banks that received Euromoney's Corporate Governance Awards were rewarded for their stable market positions, high yield level, growth potential and efficient management."

This award is recognition of Halyk Bank's commitment to and progress in implementation of international best practices in corporate governance.


Kazakhstan plans new aluminium, steel plants

Reuters

Kazakhstan plans to build a new aluminium smelter and, separately, a $1.2 billion steel plant, senior industry officials said on Wednesday.

Kazakhstan operates one aluminium smelter, launched in December last year, as well as a steel plant run by Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steel maker.

Industry and Trade Minister Galym Orazbakov told an industry meeting that Kazakhstan wanted to attract foreign investment for the aluminium project. He said its start was slated for 2008-2009 but did not say how much it would cost.

"It's too early to talk about it (cost)," he later told reporters, adding that it would be built in the bauxite-rich region of Kostanai in the north of the Central Asia state.

"We have discussed it with investors from the Arab world, they have shown interest in the project," he added without elaborating.

Metals major Eurasian Natural Resources Corp ENRC.L opened a $900 million aluminium smelter - the country's first - in December. It is expected to reach full capacity of 250,000 tones a year by 2011.

Separately, the Sokolov-Sarbai Mining and Production Union, which is part of the ENRC, said it would invest $1.2 billion to build a new steel products plant in Kazakhstan.

Vladimir Shcherba, Sokolov's vice-president, told Reuters its construction was likely to start as soon as at the end of this year but did not say where.


IKEA enters Kazakhstan

IKEA, the world’s largest home-furnishing retailer, plans to invest $500 million opening its first two shopping malls in Kazakhstan as economic growth fuels increased spending in the central Asian country.

Ikea managers including Per Kaufmann, General director for Russia and Ukraine, met with Minister of Industry and Trade of Kazakhstan Galym Orazbakov in Astana on this issue. The retailer plans to spend $250 million on a shopping center in Almaty, the nation’s commercial center, and the same amount on a center in Astana.



OTHER NEWS

First Ever in-depth English Language Guide to Kazakhstan to be released in March

By Bijan Omrani

Odyssey Books is to release the first ever in-depth English language guide to Kazakhstan this March.

Written by Dagmar Schreiber, an expert with over 14 years of experience in the country, and with contributions from other specialists, this unique 568-page volume is set to become the definitive work on Kazakhstan for years to come.

Lavishly illustrated with over 300 colour photographs and 19 maps, the book contains everything from travel information, to sections on Kazakhstan’s Silk Road and nomadic past, to chapters on business, natural resources and commerce. The book will act as an invaluable resource for business visitors to Kazakhstan who seek to better understand the country’s culture and potential. It will also highlight the enormous potential that Kazakhstan has for tourism, and highlights the country’s great beauty, culture, and diverse history, right up to the achievements of the present age.

Schreiber describes the many attractions of the country for the intrepid and less-intrepid traveller. According to her, all sorts of pastimes are available, from trekking across the boundless steppe, adventure skiing amongst the stunning mountain scenery, lakes and wildlife of the lush Tien Shen and Altai Mountains, visiting the ancient mosques and caravanserais of the Silk Road, or the amazing treasures of the museums of Almaty, and its graceful Bauhaus architecture.

The work was produced in association with the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK. It also contains a foreword by HRH The Duke of York, in his capacity as Patron of the British-Kazakh Society. In it, he stresses Kazakhstan’s great promise in the areas of business and tourism by writing: “Kazakhstan now features increasingly on business people’s travel itineraries; but the riches and beauty of its vast and varied geography have yet to be discovered by more than a relatively small number of intrepid travellers. I have been fortunate enough to have seen at first hand some of Kazakhstan’s imposing mountain scenery, the beauty of the steppe and the majesty of its desert, rivers and gem-like lakes. The country truly offers travellers a unique combination of adventure, history, culture and legendary hospitality – all set against a backdrop of pristine landscapes.”


Falconry tradition soars back

Chicago Tribune, online edition

ANDYKOZHAR BATYR, Kazakhstan—Under a cloudless sky on the Kazakh steppe, a gray hare scampers over the snow-dusted scrub, about two football fields away from a young hunter in green camouflage and the leather-blinkered golden eagle he supports on a thick, black falconer's gauntlet.

The hunter gently pulls off the eagle's hood. The bird's gaze swivels from one end of the horizon to the other, stopping momentarily to spy the hare in the distance. With a shout, "Hah!" he releases the eagle. It ascends with two flaps of its 5-foot wingspan, then swoops downward in a blink-of-an-eye glide that ends with the bird's 3-inch talons clutching the rabbit's head.

Later, at the top of a lone hillock, the hunter, Ablykhan Zbasov, explains what tethers him to a sport practiced by his forefathers 3,000 years ago, a casualty of the Soviet era now gradually making its way back to the Kazakh plains.

"When you hunt with a rifle, this is not interesting," says Zbasov, 30, his boyish face reddened by a bracing steppe wind. "But when you have the bird and your horse with you, you feel united with nature. It's really beautiful. You never forget the bird's grasp of your wrist, how powerful it is."

Zbasov and the rest of Kazakhstan's small but avid falconry community want their countrymen to know that feeling. At a time when an oil boom is endowing Kazakhstan with skyscrapers, SUVs and a budding middle class, Kazakh falconers are trying to revive their sport's stature as a pillar of national identity.

Through seven decades of Soviet rule, Kazakhstan's love affair with falconry flickered as expressions of ethnic identity were suppressed, but it never died out. Today in southeastern Kazakhstan, Kazakhs from other regions of the Central Asian nation have begun signing up for falconry courses at the Zhalair Shora Falconry Center and Museum in Nura, a small village at the foot of the Tien Shan Mountains.

"We need to keep the tradition alive, for our culture and our country," says museum Director Dinara Cherepayeva. "Our children need to learn the sport to save it."

Like other pastimes associated with nobility, falconry has a lore and history that mold its mystique. Though no one knows exactly when the use of birds of prey for hunting began, the International Association for Falconry states that historians trace the sport's roots as far back as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, to kings who ruled ancient Persia.

By 1000 B.C., falconry was established on the plains of Central Asia, where Mongolia's ruling khans kept small brigades of raptors and thousands of falconers to attend to the birds. Via the Silk Road, the sport made its way westward to medieval Europe, quickly becoming a badge of wealth and power. Diplomats exchanged them as gifts. In England in the 1600s, an aristocrat's rank was defined by the raptor he was permitted to fly. The king could hunt with a gyrfalcon, but an earl was confined to the peregrine.
But perhaps falconry's most intriguing element is the improbable bond that emerges between a falconer and his raptor. Perched outside the front door of Zbasov's small brick hut in Andykozhar Batyr is one of his golden eagles, Konyrshker, Kazakh for "Brown Pilot." Zbasov strokes Konyrshker's neck as if he were one of the handful of dogs Zbasov keeps in his back yard. He gently runs his fingers through Konyrshker's tail feathers, looking for imperfections that can affect flight.

Zbasov has been hunting with Konyrshker for seven years. Never once has the golden eagle tried to escape.

"You've always got to be very gentle with the bird," Zbasov says, feasting on a platter of boiled lamb with friends after a morning hunt. "You must always calm him. Even if he pecks you, you must stay calm. Then the bird begins to trust you. This takes months, maybe years.

"You also have to understand the bird, his mood changes. Sometimes he's capricious. Sometimes he's nervous. You must always be tuned to his mind, his wishes."

The golden eagle, the most common bird of prey used by falconers in Kazakhstan and neighboring Kyrgyzstan, is one of nature's best hunting machines. With five times the amount of light-sensitive cells in its retina as a human being has, a golden eagle can pinpoint prey up to 2 miles away. Its dive toward its prey can reach speeds of 120 m.p.h. On the Kazakh plain and woodland, eagles feed mostly on hares, marmots and foxes, though they have been known to prey on wolves.

Harnessing the eagle's predatory superiority is the steppe's supreme test of patience, Zbasov says. He stretches out his hands to reveal a patchwork of scars from pecks and talon gouges. The last wound came that morning, when Konyrshker pecked a hole in his knuckle as he tried to wrest the rabbit from the bird's talons.

The first golden eagle he trained was an adult that he kept inside his house for 20 sleepless nights, until the bird grew accustomed to his presence. That bird was an exception, Zbasov says; usually he trains his birds from the time they are chicks, building trust by feeding them from his hand. The birds then learn to fly to him for feedings from increasing distances that eventually reach 150 yards.

Once Zbasov builds a relationship with the bird, he trains it to hunt for him, first with a fox skin dragged by an assistant on horseback then with live rabbits. With the eagle fully trained, Zbasov takes it on fox hunts, usually relying on his set of Russian wolfhounds to flush the game out before releasing the eagle for the kill.

"When I release an eagle into the wild, I don't worry about it flying away," Zbasov says. "It follows me all of the time. If a falconer's skills are poor, the bird won't come back. But among our falconers, that never happens."

What began 10 years ago as an alternative to hunting with rifles has now become an all-consuming passion for Zbasov, who stopped drinking and smoking because "the birds didn't like it." He has turned the sport into his livelihood; his family's sole income derives from hunts and exhibitions he arranges for tourists at a nearby resort.

His two sons, Shingiz, 10, and Timurlan, 7, have already shown a desire to learn the sport, he says. When they reach age 13, Kazakhstan's minimum age to obtain a falconry license, Zbasov will begin their training.

"The instinct of loving birds of prey is in our blood," Zbasov says. "Once that instinct is awakened, a person has a chance of becoming a falconer. Not everyone can do it, but everyone can dream."




News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Zhanbolat Ussenov
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 104; Fax: 202-232-5845
E-mail: zhan@kazakhembus.com
Web-site: www.kazakhembus.com  


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