No 6, September 5, 2007
•New appointments in Kazakhstan’s government and legislature •US Congress delegation visits Kazakhstan, attends international non-proliferation conference •Kazakhstan becomes a center and crossroads of power and wealth. From World Affairs Monthly, interview with Ambassador Erlan Idrissov •COMMENT: After Kazakhstan's elections - between stability and reform. By Ariel Cohen
•Nokian Tyres in talks to build plant in Kazakhstan •Bio fuel association established in Kazakhstan
•Kazakh “Beatle” wins acclaim at the famous Beatles festival in Liverpool •Kazakhstan coach calls on familiar faces
New appointments in Kazakhstan’s government and legislature
Mr. Aslan Mussin has been elected Chairman of the new Majilis (lower chamber of Parliament) formed after recent parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan.
Mr. Umirzak Shukeyev (former governor of South Kazakhstan Region) has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.
Mr. Sauat Mynbayev (former Chairman of “Samruk” Holding) has been appointed Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources of Kazakhstan.
Mr. Berdybek Saparbayev has taken up the post of Labour and Social Protection Minister.
Mr. Kanat Bozumbayev has been named new Chairman of “Samruk” State Assets Management Holding.
Besides, President Nazarbayev signed decrees on the appointment of Mr. Nurgali Ashimov as the new South Kazakhstan Region governor and Mr. Baktykozha Izmukhambetov (former Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources) as the new West Kazakhstan Region governor.
US Congress delegation visits Kazakhstan, attends international non-proliferation conference
A group of US Congress representatives led by Mr. Eni Faleomavaega, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, visited Kazakhstan late in August to take part in the international conference entitled “Kazakhstan's way to a nuclear weapon-free world”.
The event was organized to celebrate the 16th anniversary since the shutdown of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
In his opening remarks at the session President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that the shutdown of the Semipalatinsk test site strengthened Kazakhstan’s security, provided favourable conditions for the country’s development.
“Kazakhstan’s example is particularly timely and useful because today the global community is threatened with further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular by terrorist groups“, Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized.
While in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, US representatives met with Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev and Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
“We are fully aware of the Congress’ important role in the US political system. Today, when Kazakhstan enters a completely new stage in its development and starts its transformation into a presidential parliamentary republic, it is especially important to us to strengthen collaboration with the supreme legislative authority in the US,” Saudabayev said at the meeting.
In turn, Faleomavaega praised Kazakhstan’s progress in reforms saying that it clearly demonstrated the country’s leading position in the region.
“It is clear now that Kazakhstan builds a transparent legislative system which will let regulate the management process and help Kazakhstan set a model for other states of the region," a member of the visiting group, Republican Representative Chris Cannon told in Astana.
Kazakhstan becomes a center and crossroads of power and wealth
By Thomas Pochari, World Affairs Monthly, August 2007
Ten years ago, when I was travelling with my wife across Asia – from Istanbul to Beijing via the ancient Silk Route – I had clear visions of the interior of the continent becoming important and powerful. Before leaving on this travel I consulted most of the leading authorities on “Central Asia” and I should say that I was sceptical that their commentary was going to be of use to me. But I always keep an open mind, and so I considered the conventional thinking on what lay between West and East – the inner interior of the vast landmass we call Asia.
Several months ago, in June, I called up Tajikistan’s ambassador in Washington, and this was a very pleasant and indeed interesting discussion. I strongly recommend the interview. The Tajik ambassador made some predictions about Central Asia, and I had the feeling he was right. I accepted his predictions, and it is now clear that he was right – very correct. This was a very newsworthy interview, to be sure. And it is amazing – though not surprising – that no major media outlet picked it up and gave it coverage. But, as I have been arguing in WAM for many months, there are important changes under way in Central Asia.
I recently called up the ambassador of Kazakhstan in Washington to see if he might talk to me. He quickly agreed, and I must say that I am very pleased: we have here another very newsworthy interview. Yerlan Idrissov, who has just taken up his post there in Washington, offered an excellent survey of Kazakhstan, and what is particularly pleasant is that he has an engaging and infectious sense of humor – not always very common in diplomats. I enjoyed very much talking to him, and I am sure that we will talk often. Click here to listen to the editor of World Affairs Monthly interview Yerlan Idrisov. The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington can be found on the net at www.kazakhembus.com.
I have published a few photos that we took while in Kazakhstan in the mid-1990s. You will see Alma Ata, otherwise called Almaty, then the seat of government and the most important city. My wife and I had been at the time acquainted with a few young Chinese diplomats, and so we ended up hanging out with Chinese (and sometimes lodging with them as well) as we got closer to the Chinese border. Alma Ata is not far from the Chinese border.
Central Asia is of course the crossroads between East and West. This is obvious, but what is strange is that it is not really perceived to be this. We never hear about Central Asia, and we rarely hear about Kazakhstan. I made the point to Idrisov that a key to Kazakhstan’s development, both political and economic, would be its infrastructure. He quickly agreed, and then described their ambitious plans to build such an infrastructure. Mobility is a big problem in most of Central Asia. The mountains and climate discourage travel. But I do think that Kazakhstan will overcome these physical challenges, and then move on to more ambitious projects.
I think World Affairs Monthly will open an office in Almaty as well as Dushanbe, and I do hope that Kazakhstan will consider investing in my businesses. The future is being built at this moment, and the future is in the very interior of Asia, in Central Asia. Rapid development will surely take place, stunningly rapid development. My guess is that the Chinese as well as the Russians will be making considerable investments in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Pakistan is also recognizing that it cannot be left behind, and large infrastructure projects are being planned. Thanks so much Yerlan for the interesting discussion, and best of luck to you in your new diplomatic post there in Washington.
COMMENT: After Kazakhstan's elections - between stability and reform
The Аugust 18 vote for stability in Kazakhstan is important for foreign investors in this country's energy-rich economy. Stability in Kazakhstan is also a priority for its powerful neighbours Russia and China, and for the US.
While some eyebrows were raised regarding the 88% result for the ruling Nur Otan party and the creation of a one-party lower chamber, the Majilis, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has received a renewed mandate from the voters.
Geopolitically, however, Kazakhstan is in a narrow spot, engaged in a balancing act. As a part of this geopolitical high stakes juggling number, Astana can't ignore either Moscow or Beijing.
Nazarbayev participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit with China's President Hu Jintao and the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Then the leaders flew to Russia to watch the unprecedented manoeuvres of the SCO militaries, in which Chinese troops for the first time exercised on foreign - Russian - territory.
Earlier this year, Nazarbayev and Putin flew to Turkmenistan to secure the supply of Turkmen gas via Kazakhstan to Russia, giving the country a handsome cut in transit fees.
Relations with the US are also important for Kazakhstan. Last year, Nazarbayev came to Washington and had a good visit with President George Bush at the White House. He signed an agreement to supply Kazakh oil to the US-supported Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline using a Kazakh tanker fleet on the Caspian Sea.
Nazarbayev hosted Hu in mid-August and signed energy agreements that expand his country's oil and gas pipeline networks to energy-starved, fast growing China.
Some Russian experts immediately discerned that Nazarbayev is playing off Moscow against Beijing. They blamed Nazarbayev for tilting too closely to Beijing, just as several years ago they blamed him for being too pro-American. In reality, though, Nazarbayev is, well... pro-Nazarbayev. He is definitely pro-Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is striving to take the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2009. OSCE election observers have not mentioned that the opposition, unfortunately, shot itself in the foot. As Kazakhstan has a high electoral threshold of 7%, it would have made sense for Social Democrats and Akh Zhol to unite. Separately, the two leading opposition parties have failed to clear the barrier; together, they got more than 7% and would have been in the Majilis.
This author talked to the opposition leaders last spring. They are not that different from each other; nor are they that far from the ruling Nur Otan. After all, most opposition leaders are former senior officials who served under Nazarbayev. These are all secular, sensible and solid people who want what is good for their country.
Erlan Idrissov, the new Kazakhstani ambassador to the US, says that democracy hasn't said its last word yet and may yet have a bright future.
"The importance of the elections is that it is the first element of the major constitutional reforms announced in May. The elections produced a new party-based parliament," Idrissov said. "We believe that the elections will open many new avenues for economic reforms, new advanced legislation facilitating joining World Trade Organization, support of private sector growth and particularly the financial sector, especially the stock market. The rule of law is an important priority for continued economic growth. Investors should feel themselves secure that the pace of economic reform will grow and deepen in quality.
"The new parliament and the government will enhance the efforts to promote such values as transparency, accountability and good governance as they were declared as top priorities. We recognize that for many people in the West a one party parliament is something difficult to digest, but our friends should understand that election is not the end of the story, rather it is the beginning the path. We believe that there will be many future elections, and every political force will have an opportunity to grow and mature.
"The Parliament will provide continued legislative support for such new economic developments as Samruk, the state-holding body which manages state assets in major sectors -- energy, railroad, telecoms, and infrastructure. Kazyna, the sustainable development fund, will also become a priority. This is an umbrella organization for the State Innovation Fund, Industrial Investment Fund, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, Center for Market Research, and Center for Transfer of Technologies.
"Last but not least, the regional financial center in Almaty will also be boosted, which is the vision of Kazakhstan for the regional business and financial hub along the lines of Dubai and Hong Kong," Idrissov said.
Kazakhstan has unique resources which, given political stability and economic development, make investors salivate. The question is, will the parliament allow further foreign investment in "strategic" natural resources or start to follow the Russian example and limit external capital?
For example, Kazakhstan has the some of the world largest uranium reserves, estimated at 1.5m tonnes. In 2006 it produced 5,279 tonnes of uranium, annual growth of over 20%, and in 2007 is projected to increase production by over 30%. Kazakhstan is the world's No. 3 uranium producer, after Australia and Canada . Uranium prices have increased 1,000% in just five years and аre likely to rise further.
The next Kazakhstani parliament will have its hands full. The greatest challenge for a one-party parliament is not only to exercise its legislative powers, but also to control the executive branch and give expression to the country's political diversity. So far, Kazakhstan has succeeded in becoming a stellar economic performer and an investor magnet. Investors hope this will remain to be the case in the future.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., a regular BNE contributor, is Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security at the Heritage Foundation and author of "Eurasia in Balance" (Ashgate, 2005) and "Kazakhstan: Energy Cooperation with Russia -- Oil, Gas and Beyond" (GMB, 2006).
Nokian Tyres in talks to build plant in Kazakhstan
Nokian Tyres confirmed it is in talks about setting up a new production plant in Kazakhstan, but that no agreement has yet been made, the company said in a statement.
The company said it aims to finalise negotiations before the end of the year.
Nokian Tyres plans to build a car tyre plant there similar in size to one it opened in Vsevolozhsk, near St Petersburg, in 2005. Nokian Tyres was in talks with senior Kazakh government officials about the proposed plant, which is estimated to cost around 350 mln euros to build and would have an initial production run of some 4 mln tyres a year.
Nokian Tyres currently makes around 6 mln car tyres a year at its factory in Nokia, Finland, and around 4 mln tyres in Vsevolozhsk.
Bio fuel association established in Kazakhstan
A bio fuel association has been set up in Kazakhstan, reports Kazakhstan Today news agency referring to Kazakh Agriculture Ministry’s press service.
Kazakhstan Bio Fuel Association should "unite interested companies and create favourable conditions for Kazakhstan’s bio fuel industry development".
According to the press-service, JSC "National Holding "KazAgro"" has initiated the idea and will coordinate the project.
"The association unites 7 Kazakhstani companies and is based upon the principles of openness, independence and transparency", - reads the press-release of Agriculture Ministry.
Kazakh “Beatle” wins acclaim at the famous Beatles festival in Liverpool
Kazakh “Beatle” Gabit Sagatov took part in the annual international Beatles Week held in Liverpool on 22-28 August 2007. The Kazakh musician performing songs of the legendary “Beatles” paid his second visit to Liverpool since 2003, when he also participated to the annual show.
As highlighted by organisers and participants to the event, such cultural exchanges contribute significantly to the further development of cultural links between Kazakhstan and the UK and give a unique opportunity to the British people to learn more about musicians from Kazakhstan.
Sagatov’s visit was organized with the support of Kazakhstan’s Embassy in London.
Kazakhstan coach calls on familiar faces
www.UEFA.com, 3 September 2007
Dmitri Lyapkin has been recalled after over two years in the international wilderness as the coach of Kazakhstan national football team Arno Pijpers unveiled his squad to face Tajikistan and Belgium.
FC Khimki full-back Lyapkin is one of three players recalled by Pijpers, with Daniyar Mukanov back 14 months after his last international appearance while midfielder Eduard Sergienko has also been recalled after missing last month's defeat by Finland. That loss left Kazakhstan second from bottom in UEFA EURO 2008™ Group A ahead of their meeting with Belgium on 12 September. Centre-back Maksim Zhalmagambetov and playmaker Ruslan Baltiyev are banned for the fixture in Almaty but may feature against Tajikistan four days earlier.
Goalkeepers: David Loria (Halmstads BK), Yuriy Novikov (FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan), Aleksandr Mokin (FC Ordabasy Shymkent).
Defenders: Yegor Azovskiy (FC Ordabasy Shymkent), Samat Smakov (FK Aktobe), Aleksandr Kuchma (FC Astana), Farkhadbek Irismetov (FC Tobol Kostanay), Maksim Zhalmagambetov (FC Astana), Aidar Kumisbekov (FC Astana), Kairat Nurdauletov (FC Tobol Kostanay), Daniyar Mukanov (FC Tobol Kostanay), Dmitri Lyapkin (FC Khimki).
Midfielders: Sergey Larin (FC Alma-Ata), Anton Chichulin (FC Astana), Ruslan Baltiev (FC Tobol Kostanay), Sergey Skorykh (FC Tobol Kostanay), Eduard Sergienko (FC Astana), Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev (FC Tobol Kostanay), Andrei Karpovich (FC Dinamo Moskva), Maksim Azovskiy (FC Alma-Ata).
Forwards: Dmitriy Byakov (FC Alma-Ata), Murat Suyumagambetov (FC Astana), Sergey Ostapenko (FC Tobol Kostanay).
News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Askar Tazhiev
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 106; Fax: 202-232-5845