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  • 13 Oct 2017 11:42 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)
    ASTANA  –  Kazakh  President  Nursultan  Nazarbayev  proposed  measures  to  modernise  the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) organisation during the Oct. 11 CIS Council of Heads of State meeting in Sochi, Russia.

    Nazarbayev  also  proposed  during  the  Supreme  Eurasian  Economic  Council  (SEEC)  meeting  a gathering in 2018 to discuss digitisation of member states and noted the importance of the Eurasian Economic Union’s (EAEU) digital agenda.

    During the CIS summit, the heads of state and government discussed strengthening cooperation as well as deepening trade and economic ties among member states.Tajikistan presented its agenda for its chairpersonship of the organisation and Turkmenistan shared ideas  to  develop  the  organisation.  The  results  of  the  work  within  the  CIS  

    President Nazarbayev stressed the CIS’ role in developing trade and economic relations among the

    member states. “Free  trade  in  services  in  the  CIS  will  open  new  opportunities  for  our  businesses  and  bring  our countries’ trade and economic cooperation to a new level. I propose to instruct the Council of Heads of  Government  and  the  Executive  Committee  to  intensify  work  on  the  draft  Agreement  on  FreeTrade in Services and to adopt it in the near future,” Nazarbayev said.

    The CIS heads of state signed documents on combating corruption and legalisation of proceeds from crime. They also considered humanitarian measures to expand ties in culture, education, science and tourism. They also adopted a statement supporting family and traditional family values. Nazarbayev attended the SEEC along with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Belarusian leader Alexander  Lukashenko,  Moldova’s  President  Igor  Dodon,  Russian  President  Vladimir  Putin, Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Sapar Isakov and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Tigran Sargsyan.

    Meeting participants discussed cooperation within the EAEU and heard a report by the EEC. They also  noted  the  EAEU’s  positive  impact  on  the  member  states’  economies  and  the  importance  of enhancing integration processes.The  sides  expressed  confidence  that  the  implementation  of  the  agreements  reached  at  SEEC meetings would enhance cooperation among EAEU countries to a higher level. The specifics of the documents signed at the CIS Summit were decided upon during the Oct. 10 CIS

    Council of Foreign Ministers meeting attended by Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and other CIS foreign ministers,counterparts  to  complete  the  ratification  of  the  Kazakhstan-EU  Enhanced  Partnership  and Cooperation Agreement in the near future, which will open a new page in bilateral relations.

    In  the  Greek  Parliament,  the  sides  discussed  the  importance  of  building  up  a  political,  inter-parliamentary and cultural dialogue. During the meeting, Grigorakos stressed that he was closely following positive changes in Kazakhstan and its multinational and multi-confessional society.

    In his opinion, “over the past years Kazakhstan has travelled a significant path to modern thinking, sciences  and  innovations.”  Speaking  about  the  Greek  diaspora  living  in  Kazakhstan,  Grigorakosnoted the importance of strengthening friendship and the “living bridge” that unites our countries. In this  context,  the  Greek  parliamentarian  expressed  deep  interest  in  studying  the  experience  of  the work of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan and ethno-cultural centres.

    Vassilenko noted the EU visa regime simplification for the citizens of Kazakhstan would facilitate a closer dialogue between the countries. He stressed that Kazakhstan unilaterally introduced visa-free regime  for  citizens  of  Greece  and  all  other  EU  countries  from  Jan.  1,  2017.  According  to  the diplomat,  such  a  step  would  allow  to  increase  cooperation  in  the  field  of  tourism  and  bring significant economic benefits.

  • 13 Oct 2017 11:31 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    Uzbekistan stands for the formation of a full-fledged free trade zone in the CIS area without any exceptions and limitations. 

    This was stated by the Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at a meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State, podrobno.uz reported.

    "I would like to note that since the beginning of the year the trade between Uzbekistan and the CIS countries has increased by more than 20 percent. Uzbekistan is also interested in implementing new concrete projects in the trade, investment, innovation and financial spheres with the CIS member countries. We are ready to jointly develop venture projects and industrial zones," he said.

    Transport and communications, the development of an effective integrated transport system in the Commonwealth space, the fullest utilization of the region's huge transit potential are strategically important areas, according to Mirziyoyev.

    The key aspects of this work, he believes, should be the improvement of administrative procedures and regulations, mutual provision of preferences for transportation and transit of goods.

    The Commonwealth countries have great prospects in the sphere of tourism, according to the Uzbek leader.

    "In our opinion, the vast opportunities and enormous tourism potential, unfortunately, are still not fully utilized. For a joint analysis of the implementation of the Strategy for the development of cooperation of the CIS member states in the field of tourism for the period up to 2020 and the development of a plan of concrete actions we are ready to host one of the regular sessions of the Commonwealth Tourism Council in Samarkand," he said.

    The expansion of applied scientific and technical cooperation and educational exchange will not be left aside, according to Mirziyoyev.

    The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a free association of sovereign states formed in 1991 by Russia and 11 other republics that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. The organization coordinates its members’ policies regarding their economies, defense, immigration policies, environmental protection, and law enforcement.

    The CIS united Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. However, in 2008 Georgia withdrew its membership.

    ---

    Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

    Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz   

  • 13 Oct 2017 11:30 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)
    Tajikistan offers Uzbekistan to enter new markets under a single joint brand.

    This would allow the two countries to achieve success in trade and economic cooperation, according to the chairman of the Tajik Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sharif Said, podrobno.uz reported.

    Today, the volumes of bilateral trade between the countries are unsatisfactory, despite the dynamics of growth of these indicators in recent years, he noted.

    "To achieve this goal, we could use modern methods such as e-commerce, leasing, the creation of joint innovation productions, and in this way to enter the markets of other countries under the joint brand ‘Tajikistan-Uzbekistan’, using the privileges and preferences of the existing free economic zones," the chairman said at the business forum in Tashkent.

    He believes that Uzbek entrepreneurs, using this potential, can significantly increase their share and investment activity in Tajikistan.

    "The opportunities for cooperation are large, but they do not meet all the requirements yet, and we must effectively use all resources and opportunities to strengthen trade and economic relations between the business communities of our countries," Said noted.

    A business forum of the two countries was held within the framework of the Tajik National Exhibition of Products. Representatives of ministries and companies responsible for such spheres as light industry, power engineering, machine building, metallurgy, automotive industry, transport and logistics, food, chemical industry, construction materials, agriculture and tourism participated in the forum.

    Following the event, promising agreements were reached to develop cooperation in the fields of the chemical industry, transport communications, light industry, agriculture, tourism and industrial production.

    Currently 24 enterprises with the participation of Tajik capital, including one with one hundred percent foreign investment, operate in Uzbekistan. At the same time, 9 enterprises were created on the territory of Tajikistan with the participation of Uzbek residents.

    In the first nine months of the current year, the Uzbek-Tajik trade reached a mark of $178.2 million. The Trade House of Uzbekistan was opened in Dushanbe in June.

    In 2016, the trade turnover between the two countries hit $69 million, which is almost 6 times more than in 2015. 

    ---

    Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

    Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz  

  • 12 Oct 2017 11:28 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    A network of centers for the integrated service of farms, dehkan farms as well as the owners of household land will be established throughout Uzbekistan in the near future.

    This decision was recently approved by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The new centers will be created at the district councils of farms, dekhkan farms and landowners, podrobno.uz reported.

    Their main tasks include providing consulting services to producers of agricultural products, including consulting in the legal, economic, technological spheres and assistance in drawing up business plans.

    In addition, they will engage in intermediary services in the sale of agricultural products in the domestic and foreign markets, the delivery on a contractual basis of necessary material resources, seeds and seedlings, containers, equipment and other means to farmers.

    Another important area of their work is providing consulting services to attract bank loans, funds and grants from international and foreign financial organizations. The agrarian’s qualification advancement will not be left aside. The centers will conduct training and practical courses for retraining and advanced training in the sphere of agriculture.

    The creation of new cooperative chains among farmers in the production, harvesting, storage, processing, and export of agricultural products is also an important direction of the centers’ operation.

    The country's economy depends heavily on agricultural production. Last year the volume of gross agricultural production in Uzbekistan reached 47.4 trillion soums. As of January 1, 2017, the number of operating farms exceeded 132,000 and dekhkan farms - 4.7 million.

    In total, 8.2 million tons of grain, 2.9 million tons of potatoes, 11.2 million tons of vegetables, over 3 million tons of fruits and berries, 1.7 million tons of grapes, 2 million tons of melons and 2.9 million tons of raw cotton were produced in the country last year.

    Because of the risks associated with a one-crop economy as well as from considerations of food security for the population, Uzbekistan has been trying to diversify its production of other agricultural products, while reducing cotton production.

    The Central Asian nation intends to decrease production and public procurement of raw cotton up to 3 million tons by 2020.

    Thus, Uzbekistan aims to increase production of grain crops up to 8.5 million tons with the growth rate of 16.4 percent by 2020 due to optimization of lands and introduction of modern agriculture technologies. It is also planned to increase production of potatoes by 35 percent, other vegetables by 30 percent, fruits and grapes 21.5 percent, meat by 26.2 percent, milk by 47.3 percent, eggs by 74.5 percent and fish by 2.5 times.

    ---

    Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

    Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz  

  • 12 Oct 2017 11:27 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has kept the forecast for GDP growth in Uzbekistan in 2017 and 2018 at the level of 6 percent annually.

    This was stated in the fund’s October report ‘World Economic Outlook’.

    Uzbekistan's inflation will grow from 8 percent in 2016 up to 13 percent in 2017. The growth of inflation in 2018 will be at the level of 12.7 percent, according to the report.

    Fund experts predict that the current account balance of Uzbekistan’s balance of payments in 2017 will amount to 0.9 percent of GDP against 1.4 percent in 2016. This figure will amount to 0.3 percent in 2018, the IMF report said.

    The IMF emphasizes that Uzbekistan can experience inflationary pressures in connection with the currency reform.

    The inflation forecast increased under the influence of various factors including the devaluation of the soum. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan devalued the national currency – soum – by almost two times on September 5, setting the official exchange rate of US dollar at 8,100 soums/USD compared to 4,210.35 soums/USD on September 4.

    Simultaneously, restrictions were lifted for legal entities and individuals to convert the national currency.

    Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered to remove restrictions from September 5 on currency exchange for the population. Previously, he announced upcoming liberalization of the banking sector and transition to a system of free currency conversion.

    Currently, Uzbek people can buy foreign currency solely on plastic payment cards, which can be used abroad without any restrictions.

    Earlier, individual entrepreneurs and farmers in Uzbekistan were allowed to withdraw foreign currency from their bank accounts.

    In addition, legal entities can purchase foreign currency in banks without restrictions for payment on current international transactions - for the import of goods, works and services, repatriation of profits, repayment of loans, travel expenses and other non-trade transfers.

    At the time, physical persons can only sell currency to banks through exchange offices.

    ---

    Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

    Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz 

  • 11 Oct 2017 11:38 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)
    ASTANA  –  Kazakhstan  President  Nursultan  Nazarbayev  was  briefed  on  the  latest  in  Kazakh- Russian cooperation on the Baiterek joint project at the Baikonur complex during a recent trip to the Kyzylorda region, according to the Akorda press service.

    “As part of our agreements with Russia, the strategic directions for the development of the complex are determined. The work is coordinated by a specially established intergovernmental commission and the governments of the parties, concrete steps are being taken,” President Nazarbayev said.

    He also stressed the need to improve environmental safety in the region. The President was also briefed on prospects to develop the city of Baikonur and improve his quality of life. “The city has a great prospect. The necessary infrastructure is being developed, gasification of the city will be ensured, construction of housing complexes and social facilities will be carried out, and joint  enterprises  should  be  created  to  provide  employment  for  the  local  population,”  President Nazarbayev added.

    The Baiterek project, a joint project between the counties, started in 2004 with the aim of creating more eco-friendly carrier rocket launches at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Funding for the Baiterek project will start in 2019-2020, when draft design and working design documentation will also be developed. Development and manufacture of equipment, construction and installation will launch in 2021-2023. Autonomous, integrated flight tests are slated for 2024-2025, with the first launch within

    the Baiterek project slated for 2025.

  • 11 Oct 2017 11:35 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    Kazakhstan's energy minister Kanat Bozumbayev announced Wednesday that the country will supply uranium to five nuclear power plants in China beginning in 2019.

    "We are working with our Chinese partners on uranium conversion," Bozumbayev told media representatives at the 18th Asian Nuclear Cooperation Forum held in Kazakhstan's capital city Astana.

    China is on schedule to complete the construction of a new power plant by 2019, when Kazakhstan will begin supplying uranium, Bozumbayev added.

    Bozumbayev said Kazakhstan aims to turn its nuclear power into an important player in global fuel trade.

    Kazakhstan is the world's biggest uranium producer, controlling 40 percent of production worldwide, with 12 percent of the world's uranium under its soil, the World Nuclear Association reports.

    The Central Asian country has no enrichment centers or nuclear power plants of its own, mostly exporting uranium in the form of triuranium octoxide or pellets, both of which require further processing before being used by power plants.

    The Kazakh state nuclear company Kazatomprom and China's CGNPC first announced a joint venture in May this year, aiming to produce ready-to-use fuel assemblies.

    As of May 2017, China has 37 operating nuclear reactors, with 20 more under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

  • 06 Oct 2017 11:25 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the two Central Asian nations, continued their efforts in bringing the relations to the highest level as Tashkent hosted a meeting of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev on October 5.

    In a short time, due to the will of the two presidents, a historic level of mutual understanding between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan was reached, Mirziyoyev said, the press service of the Kyrgyz President reported.

    He warmly welcomed the high guest, noting that this state visit is a symbolic continuation of the agreements concluded during the historic state visit to Bishkek.

    "I think the peoples of the two fraternal countries will appreciate it. After our meetings in Beijing, Astana, historical negotiations in Samarkand, we achieved great results in all directions. If we talk about our political relations, then there is no unresolved issue left. We support each other within the UN, the CIS and the Islamic Cooperation Organization. In trade and economic relations, as we agreed, we will not interfere with our entrepreneurs," Mirziyoyev said, adding that the business forums in Bishkek, Tashkent confirm the establishment of contacts between entrepreneurs.

    He went on to say that the greatest gratitude of citizens, especially residents of border areas, is connected with the opening of checkpoints, which people have waited for many years. These events are positively regarded by residents, according to the Uzbek leader.

    The head of Uzbekistan also noted the cultural and humanitarian cooperation of the two countries. Currently, Bishkek holds the days of culture of Uzbekistan, in connection with which the famous creative collectives, writers and other representatives of the creative intelligentsia came to the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

    Mirziyoyev also said that this state visit would open up new cooperation directions in a number of spheres, in particular, in the military-technical area.

    Atambaev, in his turn, also emphasized with what joy the residents of the country took the news about the opening of checkpoints, which have been closed for years.

    Following the meeting the sides signed more than 10 bilateral documents on various areas of cooperation.

    Both presidents signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership, Strengthening Friendship, Good-Neighborliness and Confidence between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, UzA reported.

    During the press conference which was held after the meeting, the sides noted that the talks were held in a spirit of mutual understanding and sincerity and that the parties are united on all strategic issues.

    It was stressed that the dynamically developing trade, economic and cultural-humanitarian ties, the activities of the open border checkpoints and the expansion of direct contacts between the regions are of great importance in the further strengthening of bilateral relations.

    Mirziyoyev’s visit to Kyrgyzstan on September 5 of the current year was the first by an Uzbek leader in 17 years.

    Along with the signed border agreement during the visit, the sides voiced desire to reconsider the water and energy issues which caused controversy in the past.

    A number of recent diplomatic meetings between Kyrgyz and Uzbek officials have indicated a significant improvement in bilateral ties between the two countries.

    The parties also stressed that one of the key factors of Central Asia’s well-being is the integrated use of water and energy resources, taking into account the interests of all the states of the region. The importance of open dialogue and the search for mutually acceptable solutions in this sphere were underlined in this regard.

    The two countries’ trade turnover rose by twofold in the first half of the current year and it is expected that the volume of bilateral trade will total $280 million in late 2017.

    ---

    Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

    Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz 

  • 12 Sep 2017 12:31 PM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)

    Astana Times, 12 September 2017

    ASTANA – EXPO 2017, Kazakhstan’s biggest and probably most ambitious event, ended Sept. 10.

    While  the  average  was  22,840  guests  daily,  slightly  more  than  100,000  visited  on  the  last  day, according to officials. Its legacy and impact will last for years. Nearly  140  scientific  inventions  in  the  renewable  energy  field  received  exposure  thanks  to  theexhibition.  Expo  also  served  as  a  stimulus  for  local  scientific  projects,  said  Kazakh  President Nursultan  Nazarbayev  in  his  closing  ceremony  remarks,  addressing  15  heads  of  state  whoparticipated as guests of honour and an audience of 2,200. “More than 1,400 small and medium-sized enterprises received orders for services and goods for $1.9 billion, while tens of thousands of people got new jobs with worthy wages. The tourism sector of Kazakhstan saw a revitalisation. The demand for tour operators’ services almost doubled during the three months,” he noted.

    Astana was nominated the “City of the Future” by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the organisation featured the capital in its documentary “Megastructures: Astana – City of the Future.” Approximately 196 companies and 200,000 individuals were involved in the expo construction. One  hundred  and  fifteen  countries  and  22  international  organisations  took  part  in  the  exhibition, which  opened  June  9.  Each  participating  nation  presented  its  own  vision  and  concept  of  future energy and showcased its latest technological achievements in the energy field.

    The International Exposition Bureau (BIE) awarded 24 gold, silver and bronze medals of honour, certificates and prizes to participants and pavilions in several categories. The Gold Medal – BIE’shighest award – was given to Nazarbayev for his contribution and success in hosting the exhibition. A second gold was awarded to international participants for their spirit and support.

    Medals of honour were presented to the Astana EXPO 2017 national company for its dedication and high  professionalism,  the  capital’s  authorities  and  citizens  and  expo  commissioner  Rapil Zhoshybayev for attracting such a large number of participants. Certificates of merit were given to all expo volunteers for being the backbone of the exhibition and the expo’s communications service for covering the event in the media.

    BIE announced an additional award and $24,000 cash prize to the National University of Lesotho.  “The  EXPO  2017  Astana  edition  of  the  BIE  Cosmos  Prize  has  been  awarded  to  the  National University  of  Lesotho  for  its  initiative  to  design  and  produce  low-cost  solar  collectors.  Jointly awarded by the BIE, the Expo ’90 Foundation and the expo, this year’s edition of the BIE CosmosPrize was  open to  not-for-profit projects  and  citizen and group initiatives working  in  the area of ‘Future Energy,’ the theme of the expo in Astana,” noted the official BIE statement.Russia received the gold award for exhibition design among type A pavilions (more than 700 square metres). The silver award went to the United Kingdom, the bronze to the Republic of Korea. For theme development, the gold award was presented to Germany, with China and France receiving the silver and bronze, respectively.

    Among type B pavilions (400-700 square metres), Qatar was granted the gold award for exhibition design, with Azerbaijan receiving the silver and Monaco the bronze. For theme development, the gold award in the category was given to Switzerland, with Hungary receiving silver and India the bronze.For type C pavilions (less than 400 square metres), the gold award for exhibition design was granted to  Poland,  with  silver  going  to  Slovakia  and  bronze  to  Latvia.  Finland  received  the  gold  award, Singapore the silver and the Czech Republic the bronze in theme development. Among category  D pavilions  (joint pavilions within  the plazas), the Caribbean Community plaza received the gold award for exhibition design, with the Pacific Ocean plaza taking the silver and the Latin American plaza the bronze. The theme development awards were given to Tajikistan (gold), Ghana  (silver)  and  Ukraine  (bronze).  Honorable  mention  went  to  the  International  Organisationsjoint pavilion. Close to 3.8 million people visited the exhibition, nearly twice as many as the 2 million anticipated by expo officials. The event closed with late-hour grand fireworks.

    ASTANA  –  The  international  green  technologies  centre  to  open  in  Astana  next  month  will  help Kazakhstan transition to a green economy and will focus on renewable energy throughout Central Asia, Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said at the recent Eurasian KAZENERGY forum, Kazinform reports. “An international centre of green technologies and future energy investment projects will be creater on the basis of EXPO in the coming month. Its tasks include transforming the energy sector and the transition to a green business. It will cooperate with the industrialised (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) OECD countries, with Russia, China, the United States, India, and countries of Latin America. The centre will become a worthy continuation of EXPO’s practice. The centre  will  be  focused  not  only  on  Kazakhstan,  but  on  the  entire  Central  Asian  region,”  said Bozumbayev.

    Delegates  of  the  two-day  forum  also  discussed  sustainable  energy  source  management,  climate change and carbon dioxide emissions reduction. The gathering also discussed energy efficiency and smart energy as well as nuclear and uranium industry development. Kazakhstan  is  the  world’s  leading  uranium  supplier  and  that  market  is  expected  to  grow,  said Bozumbaev.

    The  minister  noted  that  Kazakhstan  uses  traditional  and  renewable  energy  sources,  saying  the country hopes the share of renewable energy sources will be 3 percent by 2020, 10 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. “Undoubtedly,  we  feel  the  influence  on  taking  these  responsible  decisions  on  the  further development of the industry. I am confident that by joint efforts we will be able to build a reliable foundation  for  an  effective,  cleaner  and  greener  future  of  energy.  We  are  obliged  to  provide precisely this kind of future to the next generation of power engineers,” Bozumbayev concluded.  

  • 12 Sep 2017 11:41 AM | Yelena Arkhangelskaya (Administrator)
    Astana Times, 12 September 2017

    ASTANA – Sept. 10 in the capital featured not only the spectacular closing of EXPO 2017, a major event in Kazakh history, but also the first Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit on Science  and  Technology,  another  important  opportunity  for  the  nation  and  the  organisation’s  57 members.

    The  summit  adopted  the  Astana  Declaration  affirming  the  commitment  of  the  member  states  to alleviate  poverty,  increase  the  budget  for  education  and  join  efforts  to  accomplish  the  goals envisioned in the OIC 2025 Plan of Action and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

    Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who opened the summit and welcomed 15 national and governmental leaders, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Uzbekistan, advanced the idea to organise the conference during the 2016 OIC summit in Istanbul. A year later, more than 80 foreign delegations visited the city to discuss the organisation’s priorities and goals inscience, technology and innovation.

    Nazarbayev noted Islam has deep historical roots in the nation’s history. “Islam came to our land more than 1,000 years ago. We served as a link in the friendly dialogue between the Islamic and Western civilisation,” he said.

    The  Kazakh  head  of  state  pointed  out  several  acute  issues  that  the  international  community, including the OIC, needs to address. “First  is  extremist  and  terrorist  activity.  Primarily,  citizens  of  Muslim  [and  Muslim  majority] countries  suffer  from  their  subversive  activities.  Second  is  the  problem  of  the  spreading  of Islamophobia  sentiments.  Crimes  against  Muslims  are  on  the  rise  every  year  in  the  Western countries,”   he noted.

    The  lack  of  unity  in  the  1.5-billion  Islamic  world  is  yet  another  issue  requiring  attention,  said Nazarbayev, who called for establishing  a science  and technology  fund  to  foster development  ofboth areas in the Islamic world that, in the past, was making tremendous progress in surpassing the West. Scientists,  including  five  individuals  honoured  by  the  special  OIC  Science  and  Technology Achievement Award, also agreed that the lack of funding explains why the Islamic world is lagging.Nazarbayev  also  suggested  setting  up  the  forum  by  bringing  15  OIC  member  states  to  boost cooperation. “I believe we need to establish the forum similar to the G20, an informal group to develop science and economy in the Islamic world. Fifteen leading OIC states can form the OIC-15, because the development of science and technology is very important for us. In this regard, we should establish fruitful  cooperation  with  the  Western  world  and  this  will  foster  the  development  of  the  Islamic world,” he added.

    The President also expressed concern about the recent escalation of the conflict in Myanmar and urged the states to join efforts to settle the issue peacefully through the UN. OIC  Secretary-General  Dr.  Yousif  Bin  Ahmed  Al-Othaimeen  noted  the  summit  was  a  “historic event,” as it brought representatives of 57 OIC member states to discuss the salient issues pertaining to science and technology. He thanked Nazarbayev for the conference’s excellent coordination. “Kazakhstan has great respect in the Islamic world. On behalf of all delegations participating in the summit, I would like to express gratitude personally to you and all the Kazakh people for the warm welcome and high level of organisation of the event,” he said.

    Kazakhstan’s experience shapes its actions on UNSC Astana Times, 12 September 2017. As  world  leaders  and  foreign  ministers  prepare  to  fly  to  New  York  for  United  Nations  General Assembly next week at a time of real challenge for the global community, we must hope the chance for formal and informal discussions can play its part in reducing tensions and divisions. There is no shortage of issues to discuss. North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests have sent shockwaves around the world. They are a severe test to global non-proliferation and the crisis they have sparked has again raised fears of how misjudgements or misunderstandings could spark nuclear catastrophe.

    Conflicts in the Middle East and the threat from violent extremism continue to destabilise not only the region but the wider world. Out of the headlines, fighting in Africa – both within countries and across borders – brings misery to millions and remains a major challenge to development. Almost two-thirds of the agenda of the UN’s Security Council is devoted to trying to bring peace to areas of that continent. It would be hard enough to find solutions to these and many other challenges if there was agreement on the way forward. But too often there are acute differences of opinion along with suspicions of motives.

    This is the worrying global background, which has faced Kazakhstan in its first several months as a member of the Security Council. But it is also a time when the country’s commitment to promoting cooperation,  dialogue,  the  rule  of  international  law  and  disarmament  have  never  been  more important. It is a responsibility which the record shows Kazakhstan has taken with the utmost seriousness. In the first six months of the year, Kazakhstan participated in more than 120 formal Security Council meetings and made meaningful contributions to more than 20 resolutions.

    The  country  has  been  entrusted  with  chairing  committees  on  Afghanistan,  enforcing  sanctions against ISIL and Al-Qaida and on the Horn of Africa. As is always the case when member states take on such added responsibilities, there have been increased pressures on the nation’s diplomats. But the experience will serve them and Kazakhstan well in the years ahead. There has been progress, too, on areas which Kazakhstan promised would be a focus for its time on the Security Council. The future of Afghanistan was singled out as a major priority – a recognition of  the  importance  of  Afghanistan’s  stability  for  the  region  and  the  need  to  support  its  long-term economic and social development in the battle against extremism.

    Within  the  UN,  Kazakhstan  has  been  working  hard  to  step  up  international  efforts  to  help Afghanistan’s elected government combat extremism and spread prosperity and opportunity to its long-suffering  citizens.  The  arguments  being  made  are  all  the  more  persuasive  coming  from  a country within the region and show the importance of Central Asia having a voice at the global table. It is also a voice which carries more weight because of the active role Kazakhstan continues to take, wherever it can, to promote dialogue and end conflict. The Astana Process, for example, still holds out hope of progress towards ending the tragedy in Syria despite many obstacles. At a practical level, too,  Kazakh  military  observers  have  joined  the  international  peace-keeping  operation  in  Western Sahara with plans to help support a second UN mission next year.

    It  is  in  January  2018,  too,  that  Kazakhstan  will  take  on  the  task  of  presiding  over  the  Security Council.  It  is  a  role  which  will  further  enhance  the  country’s  stature  and  influence  within  the international community which will have an impact beyond the next two years. Among plans being considered for its presidency are, Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said last week, a debate at the highest level on how to improve international peace and security as well as ministerial level discussions on Central Asia and Afghanistan and regular formal discussions on the Middle East – both among the priorities for action Kazakhstan set out when it took its seat on the UNSC.

    But it is the priority Kazakhstan gave to nuclear disarmament – which President Nazarbayev called the  cause  of  our  time  –  which  strikes  the  loudest  chord  at  this  difficult  time.  Kazakhstan’s experience and commitment to a world without nuclear weapons has never been more relevant nor more important and it is important its message is heard loud and clear on the Security Council.

    Final de-escalation zone established as Syrian talks end in Astana

    ASTANA – The sixth round of the international meetings on Syria ended Sept. 15 in Astana with the participants agreeing on a final de-escalation zone in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. It will be  the  fourth  zone  where  no  military  activity  would  be  allowed  as  envisioned  in  the  May agreement signed by Iran, Russia and Turkey, guarantor states to the ceasefire regime, during the fourth round of talks in the Kazakh capital.

    The so-called Astana process  that has been  going on since January supplement  the UN-brokered Geneva talks meant to find the political resolution of the six-year conflict. Delegations  of  the  three  guarantor  states,  the  Syrian  government  and  Syrian  armed  opposition factions took part in the sixth round, while the UN special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura and delegates from Jordan and the U.S. attended the talks as observers. “Few believed in the success of the Astana process launched in January this year, however, thanks to the determination of the participants of Astana talks, there is now hope to resolve this acute crisis through peaceful means. Today, the participants can go further as they managed to overcome many challenges and achieve considerable results in restoring stability and peace in Syria. They reached what seemed to be impossible and efforts in this direction led to the creation of de-escalation zones in different parts of Syria,” noted Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov during a plenary session wrapping up the two-day closed-door negotiations. In a joint statement read by Abdrakhmanov, Iran, Russia and Turkey announced the creation of the de-escalation  zones  in  eastern  Ghouta,  in  certain  parts  in  the  northern  Homs  province,  in  Idlib province and in certain parts of the neighbouring provinces, including Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, as well  as  southern  Syria.  The  measure  will  be  in  force  for  six  months  and  will  be  extended  if necessary with the guarantors’ consensus.

    Iran, Russia and Turkey will have control over the de-escalation zones and would deploy the forces in accordance with the maps endorsed Sept. 8 in Ankara. The guarantor states also agreed to set up a joint coordination centre to coordinate activities in de-escalation areas. The creation of de-escalation zones does not in no way undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, said the minister as he read the statement. “We believe that the process launched in Astana will strengthen the regime of cessation of hostilities and have a positive impact on upcoming Geneva talks under the auspices of the United Nations,” said Abdrakhmanov on his own behalf.

    Head  of  the  Syrian  government  delegation  Bashar  al-Jaafari  called  the  Astana  talks  the  “only successful platform in the Syrian process,” which provokes interest among other countries to join the negotiations. “However, the issue of other countries joining the process is not on the agenda. Probably, we will take that into consideration in the future,” said al-Jaafari.

    Yet, Idlib province was not the only topic discussed during the sixth round of talks, according to High Negotiations Committee (HNC) advisor Yahya al-Aridi, as the issue of tens of thousands of Syrians locked in prisons was also on the agenda. “Another matter is detainees, whom some people call buried alive. Tens of thousands of people are there.  Thousands  of  them  were  tortured  and  killed.  None  of  the  parties  raised  this  issue  to  the regime,” noted al-Aridi. Russian  President  Vladimir  Putin’s  Special  Representative  for  Syrian  settlement  Alexander Lavrentiev, however, committed to bringing the issue to the table in an attempt to build a dialogue with  the  opposition  group,  a  critical  factor  in  the  fight  against  terrorist  groups  that  are  recently becoming more active in Syria. “We need to involve armed opposition in the fight against terrorism. The unity of all Syrians in the fight  will not only foster positive changes, but will also build dialogue and trust between them, ”noted the head of the Russian delegation.

    Similar to his colleagues, Lavrentiev commended the outcomes of the two-day negotiations and the potential of the Astana talks. “I must say that the creation of de-escalation zones makes it possible to stop bloodshed and achieve the stabilisation in Syria. The outcomes of today’s meeting affirmed the right choice the guarantor 7 states  made  earlier  about  the  promotion  of  de-escalation  zones  and  fight  against  terrorism,”  said Lavrentiev.

    The  participants  of  the  meeting  also  thanked  Kazakh  President  Nursultan  Nazarbayev  for  his commitment to the Syrian process and the Kazakh government for hosting the meeting. The next round of talks is scheduled for the end of October.  

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