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Foreign ministry sets June 25 deadline for foreign media contest submissions

15 hours 30 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced May 19 the call for applications to the fourth annual International “Kazakhstan through the Eyes of Foreign Media” contest.

The contest seeks to recognise authors of the best journalistic reports, stories and analytical pieces about Kazakhstan, which have been published in foreign media between Jan. 1 and June 25. The submission deadline is June 25.

The winners will be announced July 5, on the eve of Astana Day.

According to the Foreign Ministry, one winner will be selected from each of the five geographic regions – the Americas; Europe; the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics; Middle East and Africa; Asia, Australia and Oceania.

The award is a week-long trip to Kazakhstan in August 2017 with stops in Astana, Almaty and the Borovoye Resort as well as extensive cultural programme and a visit to the EXPO 2017 International Specialised Exhibition.

In addition, the winners will be awarded the Kazakh Foreign Minister’s Certificate of Appreciation.

The contest winners will also have the opportunity to meet Kazakh government officials, scientists, experts, journalists, academics and artists. The meetings seek to provide journalists with the contacts and cooperative efforts to facilitate high-standard coverage of Kazakhstan.

The contest is organised by the foreign ministry in cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Chief Editors Club. The Astana EXPO 2017 national company, the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railway company, Kazakhstan’s National Olympic Committee, LOT Polish Airlines, the Ramada Plaza Astana hotel, the Rixos Borovoe hotel and the Argymak transportation company are partners of the contest.

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Religious congress secretariat sets date for 2018 congress, discusses Kazakh UNSC priorities

15 hours 36 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The 16th Session of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held May 18 set Oct. 10-11, 2018 as the date of the 6th Congress of Leaders World and Traditional Religions and discussed Kazakhstan’s UN Security Council priorities.

“Our meeting today reflects our commitment to build mutual understanding and respect, to work together for the sake of peace, security and prosperity. The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions offers an inclusive platform for dialogue embracing religious leaders and other stakeholders including heads of states and international organisations, prominent politicians and scientists as well as non-governmental organisations,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan and head of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, told the gathering at the Palace of Peace and Harmony.

Tokayev mentioned that last May the conference, Religions against Terrorism, brought together members of parliaments of different countries, experts and participants of the secretariat and stressed that these meetings should be continued.

“Recent developments in Syria and Ukraine have demonstrated that geopolitical tensions between great powers are still high. The lack of unity impedes the fight against terrorism that has been flaring up in different parts of our planet. North Korea’s actions in violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty pose a risk of nuclear catastrophe. … A decline in moral values is extremely dangerous as it imperils the souls and spirits of the people,” he emphasised.

Tokayev added the global community may counter all these challenges and threats only through joint actions, constructive dialogue and seeking compromises.

Every three years, leaders of world and traditional religions gather in Astana’s Palace of Peace and Harmony.

Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister, explained in an briefing with journalists that the focus was on various confessional and religious holidays when the date of the congress was being selected so all participants could fully dedicate their time to the work of the congress.

Preparations for the congress, discussion of candidates nominated for the Astana International Award for Interfaith Dialogue and the Medal of Honour of the Congress were also on the agenda of the May 18 session. Adoption of the minutes of the 16th session of the Secretariat of the Congress and presentation of Kazakhstan’s priorities on the UN Security Council were other topics.

“The first priority is ensuring the survival of humanity through a world free of nuclear weapons. Given the enormous contribution of Kazakhstan to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes and as a country that had suffered dire consequences of nuclear testing, we believe Kazakhstan has a moral right to demand a world free of nuclear weapons. In this regard, we seek to use the UN Security Council as a platform to advance our vision of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Ashikbayev said.

The deputy minister also expressed deep concern about current challenges to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Kazakhstan condemns all actions of North Korea whose nuclear ballistic missile programme “presents a considerable challenge to global peace and security,” he said.

“We are equally concerned with any other attempt to stop nuclear disarmament. Kazakhstan calls for all UN member nations, especially permanent members of the Security Council, to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2045, which will mark the United Nations’ 100th anniversary from its foundation,” he noted.

The second priority is preventing and ending military confrontation at regional and global levels. Peace and renunciation of war as a means of settling interstate problems is essential to the survival of humanity, according to Ashikbayev, who added that the third priority is to generate a model for a regional zone of peace and security cooperation and development in Central Asia.

He also said the combined efforts of all states, international and regional organisations and other key stakeholders to combat international terrorism and violent extremism is the fourth and key priority of Kazakhstan’s membership on the UN Security Council.

Peace and security in Africa is the fifth priority, according to the deputy minister. Global action to prevent wars and conflicts, protect human rights, deliver sustainable development goals and combat climate change is the sixth priority while improving the Security Council and the entire UN system to the needs of the 21st century is Kazakhstan’s seventh priority on the Security Council.

As part of the session’s cultural programme, international representatives visited pavilions of EXPO 2017 and the National Museum, according to the press service of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.

“The congress started as a platform for dialogue among religious leaders. The fifth congress in 2015 was dedicated to continuing a dialogue with political leaders because today’s problems that clergy and religious leaders are concerned about are equal to what the entire global community is concerned about. These are the problems of terrorism, radicalisation of societies, extremist ideologies, climate change; all of that suggests teamwork of religious an spiritual leaders along with political leaders that’s why this dialogue will go on. The congress will build its work to consolidate the voices of religious leaders in advancing the solutions on the most pressing issues of present-day agenda,” Ashikbayev commented.

Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Hinduism representatives participated in the meeting as well as leaders of international organisations and guests, including Matthew Hodes, director of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Rashid Ahmed Al Teneiji, advisor to the Minister of State for Tolerance of the United Arab Emirates, Phichai Tovivich, secretary general of the Office of the World Peace Envoy and others.

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Astana Opera and Bolshoi Theatre sign memorandum of cooperation

15 hours 46 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana Opera and Russia’s famous national Bolshoi Theatre signed a memorandum of cooperation May 15 in Moscow, according to the opera’s press service.

“One of the tasks of spiritual modernisation, which was set by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, is the promotion of modern Kazakh culture in the world. As the head of state correctly noted, this is very serious and time-consuming work, including not only the selection of the best works of national culture, but also their presentation abroad. The signing of the memorandum is part of the implementation of the plans of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan to implement the strategy of our President,” said Astana Opera Director Galym Akhmedyarov.

The document was signed by Akhmedyarov and Bolshoi Theatre General Director Vladimir Urin. A number of projects were also discussed during the talks and the parties will develop partnerships in several directions. In addition to the exchange of specialists, artists and performers, further plans include organising tours, joint productions, master classes by leading specialists of both theatres and participating in music competitions and festivals.

Kazakh artists have appeared repeatedly on the famous Moscow stage. Astana Opera leading soloist and Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Talgat Mussabayev performed the main role in “Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Bolshoi Theatre soloists have also had the opportunity to perform in front of the Astana audience. Prima ballerina and People’s Artist of Russia Svetlana Zakharova took part in a gala concert dedicated to the world premiere of the Astana Opera, according to the statement.

Astana Opera also currently partners with the La Scala, San Carlo, Carlo Felice, Shanghai Grand and Mariinsky theatres, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and others.

The Bolshoi Theatre was established in 1776. Today, its repertoire consists mostly of masterpieces of 19th–20th century Russian musical theatre. In addition to those classics, Bolshoi offers its audience the masterpieces of Western European composers, including authors of the 20th century, as well as specially-ordered compositions.

“It is Russia’s main national theatre, a bearer of the traditions of the Russian music culture and the centre of the world music culture, the spearhead of the development of the country’s performing arts,” notes its website.

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World Bank predicts slow growth for Kazakhstan in medium term

Sun, 2017-05-21 22:49

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The World Bank released a report which predicts Kazakhstan’s economic growth will pick up slowly in the medium term, but highlights it will remain much lower than before 2014. The report adds real GDP rates will be around 3 percent in 2017-2019.

In the last year, the nation’s economy suffered from a slowdown in global oil prices, as the nation has low domestic demand. Real GDP growth declined from 1.2 percent in 2015 to 1 percent in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Lower oil prices and oil output widened the current account deficit, however investments in oil and gas production pushed up inflows of net foreign direct investment. As a result, the National Bank was able to partially replenish its international reserves, which it had drawn down earlier to finance foreign exchange interventions, according to the report.

Domestic consumption continued to slow down due to devaluation of the national currency. The inflation rate reached 14.6 percent, which in turn weakened household purchasing power.

The Kazakh government sought to stimulate domestic demand and diversify the economy in 2016. Authorities postponed fiscal consolidation and used economic support measures financed by the oil fund and additional borrowing. The government used special national programmes focused on increasing domestic demand through higher public wages and social transfers and continued subsidy provisions to national enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses. It also decided to support banking sector.

Authorities plan to recapitalise the country’s major banks. The National Bank started gradually easing its contractionary monetary policy as inflationary pressures subsided in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Experts predict oil prices will gradually recover and oil from the giant offshore Kashagan field will offset the observed declines in traditional oil output. As a result, export revenue will increase and positively impact Kazakhstan’s current account and fiscal balances. Yet, they emphasised even with the projected oil price level both balances will remain in deficit.

The report notes the agricultural sector is an important part of the country’s economy, which can help in its diversification and create more jobs. In his 2017 address to the nation, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called agriculture “a new driver of the economy.”

Kazakhstan has great potential to increase rural incomes and create jobs, contributing to economic diversification and adding additional value to output through processing. Agricultural labour productivity is currently lower than in Russia and Belarus. At that, 15 percent of the state’s total arable land is unutilised, according to the report.

World Bank experts note Kazakhstan’s good location and consider it can help the nation enter the growing markets of China, India and the Middle East. This, along with the scale of agricultural resources, makes the country a potentially attractive investment for domestic and foreign investors.

Experts also highlight the risk-prone nature of agricultural business and advise using research, innovations and dissemination and adoption of new technologies. They note agricultural productivity significantly depends on infrastructure, as it declines significantly due to travel time. Public-private partnerships should encourage private investment in storage, distributional infrastructure and processing facilities.

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Kazakh FM says economic diplomacy top priority

Sun, 2017-05-21 22:40

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov briefed local media May 18 on the ministry’s activities in the realm of economic diplomacy and fielded questions on issues ranging from the Astana Process to the One Belt, One Road initiative and the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

Kairat Abdrakhmanov

The primary initiatives by President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the government has been implementing include the development and adoption of the national investment and export strategies, creation of the national companies Kazakh Invest and Kazakh Export, as well as redistribution of powers dealing with foreign trade in the government structure.

Calling economic diplomacy a top priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdrakhmanov said Kazakhstan has created institutions for interaction with investors at all levels.

“The meetings of the Foreign Investors Council under the President are held on the regular basis. The next meeting is scheduled to take place within the framework of EXPO 2017 in Astana. Also, the council for improving the investment climate headed by the prime minister, as well as the governmental council on attracting investors are continuing their activities,” he said.

Abdrakhmanov also noted that joint efforts of state bodies helped attract $242 billion in foreign direct investment in 2005-2016.

“President Nazarbayev pays special attention to the development of economic diplomacy. Almost all of his official visits to foreign states include separate meetings with the local business community, where the majority of commercial agreements are being concluded. For instance, in 2016 during the presidential visits, 48 agreements were signed for a total amount of $1.4 billion in Iran, 20 documents totalling $520 million in Turkey, 10 agreements for $200 million in Saudi Arabia, 13 documents for $1.2 billion in Japan and 24 contracts for $640 million in South Korea. This year, the agreements on the implementation of joint investment projects worth $6.3 billion were reached during the President’s visit to the United Arab Emirates,” Abdrakhmanov said.

In 2016, the foreign ministry held more than 300 events oriented on trade, economic and investment, as well as organised more than 600 visits of foreign delegations to Kazakhstan and visits of Kazakh business delegations to foreign states, Abdrakhmanov informed the gathering.

The Diplomatic Business Club, created on the initiative of the foreign ministry, plans the organisation of the foreign ambassadors’ trip to the South Kazakhstan region to study investment opportunities of the region, which is a continuation of its practices from last year.

Speaking of cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Abdrakhmanov noted that this year for the first time the OECD Eurasian Week will take place outside of the organisation’s headquarters in Paris, namely in Almaty on Oct. 23-25. The goal of this event is to strengthen relations between the Eurasian states and the organisation member countries.

As he answered questions from the assembled media, Abdrakhmanov said the next round of talks on ending violence in Syria as part of the Astana Process will take place, as scheduled, in mid-July and will be preceded by a technical meeting of experts in Ankara.

He also told the press Kazakh delegation’s participation in the May 14-15 One Belt, One Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing produced an agreement between Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and Cosco, the leading global transportation company, as well as a communiqué linking the One Road, One Belt initiative with other regional initiatives, including Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol programme.

Abdrakhmanov also said the ministry is helping develop the AIFC, including creating a single space at the centre to register foreign AIFC staff  and mechanisms to send AIFC staff to Kazakhstan’s foreign missions.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assists the AIFC in attracting the major world financial institutions, organisations and companies to this project,” he noted. “President Nazarbayev visited international financial institutions in Abu-Dhabi and Dubai, where he held talks with their leadership and potential investors.”

The minister also noted China is a major trade and investment partner and that Kazakhstan is simplifying its visa regime for Chinese citizens coming to EXPO 2017.

Abdrakhmanov also mentioned that the fifth Caspian Summit that is expected to adopt the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea will take place in Astana. Specific dates will be announced later depending on the progress in the talks over the convention.

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UN Central Asia regional centre’s goal is to help build trust, its head says

Fri, 2017-05-19 07:09

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the UN Regional centre for preventive diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) in Ashgabat. In an interview with this newspaper, Petko Draganov, Head of UNRCCA and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, discusses the achievements so far and the goals for the future.

Please tell us about the history and objectives of the Centre.

The UNRCCA in Ashgabat was established by exchange of letters between the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council in May 2007. UNRCCA was the first political mission of the UN with a mandate focused solely on preventive diplomacy.

The main objective of the Centre is to assist Central Asian states in finding solutions to potentially contentious regional issues. The activities of the Centre are implemented based on the mandate and three-year programmes developed in close consultation with the countries of Central Asia. For the period of 2015-2017 our priorities have been identified as 1) transnational threats and challenges; 2) management of shared natural resources; 3) internal factors affecting regional stability; and 4) the establishment of national/regional capacity for conflict prevention.

Compared to other UN missions, our centre is smaller in scale, with a minimal budget and limited staff. The main part of our mission’s activities is funded by extra budgetary sources. At the same time, the geographical area of responsibility covered by UNRCCA is broad; it includes five states. Therefore, compared to most missions, which as a rule cover a single country, all our efforts must be multiplied at least by five. In light of this, the Centre is one of the most effective agencies of the UN in terms of resources/results ratio.

In 2017, it will be 10 years since the establishment of UNRCCA. Could you point out the main achievements of the UNRCCA over this period?

If we were to speak of definite results of our work over the past 10 years, we probably need to start with the fact that throughout this time there were no major inter-state conflicts in Central Asia. This, of course, is the merit of the states themselves, but partially, there is our credit as well.

Primarily, the Centre has provided governments a platform for dialogue on the most difficult regional issues: trans-boundary water management, countering security threats, strengthening of stability, development of regional cooperation. The Centre provided good office for preventing and responding to emerging problems that are threatening internal stability of individual countries and the entire region.

In the process of monitoring the situation, we have accumulated considerable analytical potential. We provide information support to the governing structures of the UN with the aim of making and implementing effective and timely solutions. Twice a year I speak at the Security Council with progress reports and analysis of the regional situation. The proposals that we coordinate with the countries are communicated to the members of the Security Council and receive international attention. To further raise the global awareness of the concerns in Central Asia, the Centre has initiated several visits of the UN Secretary-General to all five Central Asian states. In the near future, the newly elected Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also visit Central Asia. This is evidence of the great attention paid by the leadership of the United Nations to the region and of willingness to assist in solving the existing issues.

Over the years, we have organised dozens of international workshops and round tables on topical issues of regional security and have trained more than 1,000 specialists in various fields of preventive diplomacy. There were hundreds of rounds of talks in the capitals of Central Asian states and in other countries, aimed at contributing to overcome differences and establishing rapprochement.

At times, we are told: “Your work is all talk, give us concrete results: roads, equipment, infrastructure, financial support, etc.” Diplomats hear such reproaches often. I can remind the known phrase: while diplomats speak, guns are silent. Questions of social and economic development are, after all, the area of responsibility of the states themselves. The main purpose of the Centre is to build trust between countries, which will create favourable conditions for comprehensive cooperation, including in the trade-economic sphere. Certainly, results of such work will not be visible at once; however, we note positive tendencies. We particularly welcome and support the efforts of countries aimed at facilitating customs and other administrative barriers to trade.

The signing of a number of documents regulating collaboration with our partners in the region and outlining strategies for future action can be considered concrete results of our work. I would like to especially note the Joint Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, approved by high representatives of Central Asian countries in November 2011 in Ashgabat. The plan pays considerable attention to the humanitarian aspects of preventive diplomacy, noting the need for an integrated approach addressing the problems of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation of the population in order to eliminate the root causes of these threats, while respecting basic human rights and freedoms of the individual. This was the first practice in the world of adapting the global counter-terrorism strategy to a specific region. It served as an example for countries in other parts of the world. In the course of the implementation of the plan, considerable experience has been accumulated, which we plan to discuss at a ministerial conference on June 13 this year in Ashgabat.

Another specific example of UN preventive diplomacy were the events in Kyrgyzstan that occurred in 2010. Since the change of government in Bishkek in April 2010, UNRCCA has been monitoring the political situation in the country with a view to early warning of the interim government and the international community about the existing risks. Unfortunately, law enforcement has been unable to prevent the outbreak of ethnic violence in the South of the country. In this situation, the efforts of the Centre were focused on the support of the authorities in post-conflict recovery and national reconciliation. The transition period has been completed peacefully by the formation of a legitimate government, as a result of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections. At the same time, according to our analysis, not all the causes of ethnic tensions are eliminated. Further work is needed to improve inter-ethnic relations.

 The Centre has proposed a number of initiatives in the field of trans-boundary water management. What has been accomplished on this issue?

In 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) was signed at the UNRCCA headquarters in Ashgabat on the development of a mechanism for monitoring and preventing threats to the environment in the Aral Sea Basin. Based on this document, the Centre cooperates with the EC IFAS in terms of information exchange, enhancing the potential of its employees, assistance in mobilizing international support in the implementation of Programmes in the Aral Sea Basin (ASBP) and a number of other issues. Currently UNRCCA is in contact with the Turkmen presidency of the EC IFAS on the development of a regional water strategy. The Centre also collaborates with UNESCO in the study of the problems of melting high-altitude glaciers and its impact on national and trans-boundary water systems, as well as the creation of an appropriate system for the exchange of information and knowledge.

In cooperation with the Scientific-information centre of Interstate coordination water Commission (SIC ICWC), the Centre develops an early warning mechanism for potentially problematic situations on Trans-boundary Rivers. We are currently preparing and distributing early warning quarterly Bulletins based on an agreed set of pointers.

For several years now, we have been working with the Central Asian states to create a legal mechanism for an integrated solution of the region’s water and energy problems. As a result of several years of negotiations, in March 2017, the Centre sent to governments a renewed proposal to develop agreements on the use of water resources in the Amudarya and Syrdarya river basins. The proposed projects are aimed to help countries create a clear legal mechanism for managing trans-boundary water resources while taking into account the interests of all parties, equal significance of various types of water use, rationality and justice. Projects also propose the creation of a multi-stage dispute resolution mechanism. I have already held the first round of talks in the capitals of the Central Asian States and confirmed the readiness of most of them to negotiate on this issue.

As you know, security in Central Asia is affected by external factors, in particular, originating from Afghanistan. What does the Centre do to counter external threats?

Many threats of safety of countries of Central Asia have an external origin. In this connection, we monitor development of events in adjacent Afghanistan, in Syria and Iraq, from the outlook of their influence on the region.

Concerning Afghanistan, my staff and I regularly visit the country for meetings with government representatives and other partners to learn the information first-hand and to assess the situation on the spot. The Centre maintains close contacts with the UN Mission for assistance to Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure a comprehensive analysis of the situation in the region.

We involve representatives of Afghanistan in our events. A few dozen Afghan civil servants attended our courses on capacity building in various fields of preventive diplomacy. This is our contribution to strengthening trust between Central Asian states and Afghanistan and in changing the perception of this country in the eyes of the peoples of Central Asia. Our goal is not only to help in early warning of potential cross-border risks, but also to pay attention to the opportunities for cooperation that are emerging. In this regard, I am pleased to note the development of relations between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, in various formats, for the further involvement of the latter in regional cooperation mechanisms. The construction of the gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), the transmission line Central Asia – South Asia (CASA-1000), planned railways and roads will contribute not only to stabilizing Afghanistan, but also to the development of Central Asian countries themselves.

In conclusion, what are your forecasts regarding the development of regional relations and what is necessary for a more successful UN preventive diplomacy in Central Asia?

Perhaps, I will start with the second part of the question. As you are aware, the main purpose of the mandate of UNRCCA is to assist countries in maintaining regional peace and stability, which are of special importance to national security, and is within the sovereign authority of States. Therefore, the effectiveness of the work of UNRCCA is determined by the political will of governments to cooperate with each other and seek solutions to common problems. The Centre is making efforts to mobilise such political will to respond to the challenges and threats to regional security and stability. At the same time, the character of a famous movie tells us: “The East is a delicate matter.” The countries of the region follow their own development paths, and each has its own distinctive features and national interests. The Centre must take into account these dynamics.

Concerning forecasts, in my opinion, one can rightfully state that within 10 years, conditions for the successful implementation of preventive diplomacy in the region have been created. For numerous existing problems, solutions are outlined. Recently, we note the positive trends in regional relations, and this gives us reason to look to the future with a certain degree of optimism. For its part, the Regional Centre will continue to operate in accordance with the motto under which we celebrate our tenth anniversary: “​To promote dialogue – to prevent conflicts.”

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18-year-old Kazakh genius defends master’s thesis

Thu, 2017-05-18 23:24

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Eighteen-year-old Rakhat-Bi Abdysagin recently defended his master’s thesis at Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA), reported tengrinews.kz.

Abdysagin became a student at the Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory at 13, while simultaneously studying piano under maestro Konstantin Bogino at Accademia Musicale S. Cecilia di Bergamo in Italy. After graduating from both schools four years later, he entered KazNUA. He then brilliantly defended his master’s thesis, receiving the maximum score of 100. Abdysagin, who began writing music at age 10, is the author of more than 100 pieces, including large-scale symphonic and chamber works.

“I have been doing things I love. I did not hurry to defend my master’s thesis; it all happened naturally. I focused on research in the field of modern art and contemporary classical music in my work. My master’s thesis offers many new approaches and new methods of analysis of the latest music, introducing new concepts in music and analysing a huge number of contemporary composition techniques. The commission recommended publishing it in the form of a monograph as a completed stage of scientific research,” he said.

While a student at KazNUA, the young talent held several concerts at home and abroad. In addition, he was awarded with an honorary badge “For merits in development of culture and art” by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Interparliamentary Assembly.

“As it is known, time is relative; everything depends on the natural pace of each individual person. For example, Mozart wrote his first work at the age of five, Czerny started performing concerts from 10 years and Mendelssohn acted as a pianist when he was nine. … There are similar examples in modern times; for example, Alma Deutscher wrote her first work at the age of six, now she is 11 years old. Alan Walker created his first electronic composition at 15 years old,” said Abdysagin.

“The fact that I started composing symphonic music from the age of 10 and at the age of 18 I defended my master’s thesis is my current of time. I am not ahead of anyone; I have my own time in my own coordinate system. How it relates to others is a rhetorical question,” he added.

Abdysagin’s works are distinguished by a special organisation of time and space, a sensitive sense of timbre and fine, listened and filigree work with sound matter, noted Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory Professor Yuri Kasparov.

“Modern methods of playing the instruments become bearers of the artistic image. Compositional techniques and form create a single whole with content in the general breathing of time. Reliance on the eternal and unshakable values of art is the point of attraction. … The spectrum of his work is wide, encompassing many genres, styles and directions,” he said.

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Kazakhstan, Russia to cooperate in aviation searches and rescues

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:30

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s lower house of Parliament (Mazhilis) recently ratified an intergovernmental agreement with Russia to cooperate in aviation searches and rescues, according to Sputnik Kazakhstan.

 

“Today, through the Mazhilis we passed a bill that provides a joint rescue work. It explains how the rescuers of Kazakhstan will work together with the rescuers of Russia, with which state bodies are working. It also specifies what technical means there are on the border, from our side and theirs, how we transfer information to each other, how we conduct the exercises. All of this is regulated by this agreement,” said Minister for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan Zhenis Kassymbek on May 12, according to MIR24 TV channel.

According to the Mazhilis’ Committee on International Affairs, Defence and Security, the initial agreement was signed in October 2015 in Astana.

The agreement regulates the organisation and execution of search and rescue operations. In their area, both countries provide aviation search and rescue services, which they carry out round-the-clock.

If the search and rescue service of one of the states receives a report of an accident or incident in its search area, this service shall respond.

In cases when the search and rescue service of one of the states receives a report on an aviation accident in the search and rescue area of ​​the other state, the service immediately informs the search and rescue service of the partner state about such an incident or incident. In cases when the search and rescue service of one country needs assistance from a similar service of the state of the other party, it may request such assistance and take all measures to allow the search and rescue forces to enter its territory as soon as possible.

When providing assistance to aircraft that are going through a dangerous situation, the parties shall use international signals of distress, urgency, warnings and signals used in search and rescue operations.

Each party alone incurs costs arising from the implementation of search and rescue operations in its area of responsibility under the agreement, according to the statement.

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Roaming medical trains provide care to more than 6,500 residents of remote regions

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:27

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Approximately 6,500 residents in the Karagandy and Mangystau regions have received medical treatment from medical trains at more than 30 stations since the first train began operating April 11, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railway company’s press service reported May 16.

Photo credit: goodrail.kz

The trains are staffed by medical teams formed under the Densaulyk and Salamatty Kazakhstan programmes who have handled more than 31,000 medical visits, performed more than 33,000 diagnostic procedures and 133 small outpatient surgeries, including medical care for more than 1,500 children.

More than 400 women have been examined by a mammologist. Dental care was provided to 1,440 residents.

According to Yerbol Kengerbayev, Director of KTZ’s Fund for Social Projects Corporate Foundation, patients receive medical services, professional advice and directions for further treatment at the nearest medical centres free of charge.

“It is also important that we provide services to children, too. They receive the help of highly qualified doctors. Local residents are happy to meet our trains and children are happy, for whom we organise entertainment events at the time of the arrival of trains,” he said.

Kengerbaev also noted the doctors of the Densaulyk train had examined the Beineu station’s residents and servicemen. Medical examination, consultation and treatment were provided to the soldiers of the new call of border troops of one of the region’s military units.

The medical trains’ project is being implemented by the Fund for Social Projects Corporate Foundation, the Samruk-Kazyna Trust Fund for Social Projects Development, Kazpost, the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan with the support of regional governmental bodies.

The Salamatty Kazakhstan medical train set off April 11 from the Karagandy station to the towns and villages of the central, northern and eastern regions of Kazakhstan. They will operate until Nov. 6. The Densaulyk medical train set off April 18 from the Almaty-1 station to southern and western regions of Kazakhstan. The trains will operate until Dec. 20.

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Switching to Latin alphabet will facilitate Kazakhstan’s development

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:23

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

We are living in an increasingly globalised and interconnected world. Advancements in technology and transportation have made the planet smaller, making it easier for people from all corners of the world to engage and communicate with each other over great distances.

The spread of the English language, which has essentially become a global language, has also made communication easier among countries from different continents. Indeed, in today’s world it is essential for any nation that wants to prosper to promote the use of certain languages and alphabets.

Latin is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. It is used by approximately 70 percent of all countries, making it an essential part of communicating across the globe, especially in terms of technology, business, science and education. Currently many databases and software programmes don’t support the Cyrillic text, making it very difficult for IT and technology experts. On a practical level, those of us who use the Latin alphabet to type on smartphones will know how less cumbersome it is to use than Cyrillic.

The timing seemed right for President Nursultan Nazarbayev to publish an article in a state newspaper on April 12, renewing his earlier pledge of a switchover of the Kazakh language from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by 2025. It followed considerable discussions about switching to the Latin alphabet that have been ongoing in Kazakhstan ever since the country became independent in 1991. Indeed, according to a recent Newsweek report, the assessment of Camilla Hagelund of risk analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft, was that the initiative “reflects the public mood” in the country.

Earlier this year, President Nazarbayev announced the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan, which involves creating a new model of economic growth that will ensure the country’s global competitiveness and help Kazakhstan join the top 30 most-developed countries by 2050. The President stated that these large-scale reforms should be complemented with advanced modernisation of Kazakhstan’s national identity, which will provide the core for political and economic development.

It is, therefore, logical that the President has decided that now is the right time to begin the process of switching the Kazakh language from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet. There is a strong case to be made that this switch will bring more economic development to the country and help consolidate Kazakhstan’s integration into the global economy.

This is essential in today’s world. International businesses and financial exchanges take place using the Latin alphabet. It is, therefore, completely understandable that Kazakhstan, a country that is keen to enhance its international business and investment reputation, is looking to adopt measures that ensure its modernisation and competitiveness.

This move should be welcomed by businesspeople and investors, both in Kazakhstan and globally. Switching to the Latin alphabet will undoubtedly lead to more commercial cooperation between Kazakhstan and other nations.  Looking regionally, the change will also bring Kazakh in line with other Turkic languages, such as those spoken in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, which all use the Latin alphabet. It is also expected to make it easier for international investors to do business in Kazakhstan, which will contribute to the overall development of the nation and increase the standard of living of its citizens.

Switching to the Latin alphabet also facilitates President Nazarbayev’s initiative to promote the English language in Kazakhstan, especially among the younger generation, to ensure that they can compete globally. Proficiency in this language is growing quickly. The most recent census data indicated that 1.9 million Kazakhs understand English, with around half of those speaking it. It’s a good start but to enhance Kazakhstan’s competiveness in the global market even further, this number will need to increase.

It should also be noted that Kazakhstan previously used the Latin alphabet between 1929 and 1940. Nevertheless, it is understandable that some people in Kazakhstan, especially the older generation, are anxious about how switching back to the Latin alphabet will affect their day-to-day lives. It is, therefore, the right decision that the switch will be a gradual process to ensure that everyone is able to adapt to the changes at a steady pace and inter-generational connections are not lost. As per President Nazarbayev’s suggestion, help will be given by specialists to those who do not yet use the Latin alphabet. In addition, a working group with the participation of experts in the field of linguistics has been set up by the Ministry of Education to ensure that the transition runs smoothly until 2025. To reflect its popularity of use, the Russian language will remain one of the official languages in Kazakhstan, as noted by the Kazakh leader recently.

Kazakhstan has always championed increased regional and global integration. Enhanced cooperation in the fields of commerce, business and diplomacy will contribute to creating a stable and prospering world where everyone benefits. Switching to the Latin alphabet is an important step in this direction for Kazakhstan.

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Kazakhstan-born producer turns family ties into film

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:16

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Family has emerged as a major theme in Kazakhstan-born Anatoliy Kim’s body of films. His “Siblings” was a hit at the Middle Coast Film Festival, and now his new short film, “Grandpa Arnold,” promotes love of one’s grandparents and calls viewers to spend as much time with their elderly relatives as they can.

But Kim’s own family’s plans for their son did not include Hollywood. “I’ve always been passionate about telling stories and conveying emotions through movies. But my father wanted me to become an engineer since I was really good at math,” Kim explained in an interview with The Astana Times.

“I got accepted to Karaganda State Technical University on a full scholarship to study Transport Equipment and Technology. Every day I spent there made me realise that this was not the career for me. I wanted to take my talents into filmmaking. After I graduated in 2012, I flew to the U.S. to pursue my dream,” said Kim.

Kim’s love for film hadn’t died. “I was constantly watching movies, reading reviews and sharing my opinions with my friends. I became friends with many creative people who pursued their dreams no matter what. You could see passion like a fire in their eyes. I convinced myself that I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it,” the producer explained.

It was difficult to adjust to being so far from home in his first months in the U.S., Kim said, but he kept pushing. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to make movies. It was something that had seemed unattainable. I thought that it would only remain a dream. Dreams only stay as dreams unless you put actions toward them.”

Kim earned a Master’s Degree in Filmmaking from the prestigious New York Film Academy (NYFA), making five movies and collaborating on more than 30. “It gave me invaluable knowledge and opened many doors for me,” he said. “Working with world-class filmmakers has made an immense impact on the professional I am today. The best ‘behind the camera’ and ‘in front of the camera’ talents are here. I guess it’s one of the key reasons why the films ‘Grandpa Arnold’ and ‘I Did It for Me’ have been very successful films,” he said.

“I remember when I got a call from Middle Coast Film Festival. My film, ‘Siblings’ officially got selected. I was jumping up and down with a huge smile on my face in my tiny room in Brooklyn. It was a small victory but a victory nonetheless. Someone really appreciated my work and it was all worth it. I felt a huge surge of energy. I began working even harder,” the producer said.

He would revisit the theme of family in “Grandpa Arnold.”

“In today’s world, young individuals tend to forget about their grandparents. They do not spend as much time with them as they did in the past. We don’t know when they’ll leave our lives forever. I hope that the short film ‘Grandpa Arnold’ will make young people recall their grandparents and pay them an unexpected visit. That would be the best present for them and the film hopes to inspire people to make that simple, but very important decision,” he said.

While in his home away from home, Kim also has the opportunity to introduce people to Kazakhstan. “When I say that I am from Kazakhstan, most people ask few polite questions about the Soviet Union, what language we speak and so on. Usually Gennady Golovkin comes up in conversation … which is very cool,” the producer said.

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Kazakh beekeepers to export honey to China

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:13

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan and China signed the protocol on inspection, quarantine and sanitary requirements for honey exported from Kazakhstan to China during President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s official visit to China and his participation in the May 14-15 Belt and Road forum for international cooperation in Beijing.

Photo credit: ic24.kz

Kazakh Vice Minister of Agriculture Gulmira Issayeva and Chinese Chairperson of State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Zhi Shuping signed the document.

“Last summer, the AQSIQ inspectors visited Kazakhstan and got acquainted with honey producers in the East Kazakhstan region. They were surprised by the varieties of honey, as we can produce different types of honey of the highest quality,” said Issayeva in an interview with Kazinform.

The document reflects all the necessary requirements, which were previously studied and agreed, she added.

“This is very important, because our farmers got the opportunity to export honey, being aware of the requirements of the Chinese market,” she noted.

In addition, a project has been launched to establish laboratories in the East Kazakhstan or Almaty region which will be technically equipped and accredited in accordance with AQSIQ requirements.

“Farmers from Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region will be able to certify these products in these laboratories while supplying products to China. The test results will not be rechecked in China. This is a great recognition of our veterinary service. Chinese experts have repeatedly audited our veterinary service for various types of diseases,” said Issayeva.

Plans are also underway to agree on the requirements to ship frozen mutton to the Chinese market by the end of the year, according to First Vice Minister of Agriculture Kairat Aituganov.

“In April, Chinese experts conducted an audit of the veterinary service and the inspection of enterprises in Kazakhstan. Work continues on the organisation of export of chilled lamb to China. We are also coordinating veterinary requests for export of mutton and live sheep to Iran. The veterinary certificates have been agreed for the export of live cattle and chicken eggs to the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” he said.

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan agreed on the list of goods allowed for export under the Eurasian Economic Union. The number of enterprises entitled to supply their products to Kazakhstan was increased from 12 to 25.

Aituganov noted specially-developed export road maps imply measures to harmonise domestic regulations and certificates with the demands of importing countries – China, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Doctoral student from Almaty gives practical classes at university in Zurich

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:10

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Alexander Nigai, a 24-year-old doctoral student from Almaty, is teaching practical classes at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) reported Inform.kz.

Photo credit: inform.kz

“I am a doctoral student, but doctoral candidates are also staff in this university… Teaching is my duty and the university pays for it. We do not pay a tuition fee accordingly. … I was teaching operating system roughly three hours per week; it is one of the subjects for computer skills,” he said during a visit of Kazakh journalists to the university, according to the news report.

“I do not deliver lectures; only professors can deliver lectures at the university. We conduct practical classes, but this is a broadly accepted practise in this university,” he added.

Nigai sparked interest in studying and using supercomputers. He now works at the university’s IT supercomputing laboratory, the only one of its kind in Europe. Along with his colleagues, he attempts to make supercomputing easier and more efficient.

“Weather forecasting is the closest use of supercomputers to life. Nowadays, forecasts are done on supercomputers. In the main, they are used by scientists for modelling physical processes. Physicists use them for modelling the formation of stars, for example. Pharmacists study how drugs interact with the human body,” said Nigai.

He can work at the institute up to six years, during which he may try to complete his doctorate. Nigai has not yet selected a topic for his thesis, as he began the programme six months ago and is still gaining experience. He noted there is no hurry to confirm a topic and can therefore deal with the specifics a little later.

“Life in Zurich is expensive, but wages here are accordingly high, too. Some things even remind me of my native land. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that the city is very similar to Almaty, especially in terms of climate. Even the grass is the same as in our city. Lilac grows nearby my house. It smells like a lilac in Almaty,” he added.

Nigai does not plan to live abroad and will be ready to consider possible job offers from Kazakh companies.

“I would not want to live overseas permanently. I am used to living here and was studying in Edinburg for a year before, but I don’t feel like it is home anyway,” he said.

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Four Kazakh singers to participate in Placido Domingo Operalia during EXPO 2017

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:07

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The prestigious Operalia, the world opera competition founded by Plácido Domingo, will take place in the capital July 24-29 as part of EXPO 2017. A total of 40 contestants from 17 countries, including four from Kazakhstan, are scheduled to participate.

Operalia 2016 winners.

This will be the 25th season of the prestigious event. The host country will be represented by Astana Opera soloist and laureate of a number of international contests soprano Maria Mudryak, tenor Damir Saduakassov and baritones Stanislav Li and Rasul Zharmambetov.

The Operalia will be held under the auspices and sponsorship of the Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports and Rolex. People’s Artist of the USSR Bibigul Tulegenova will be the guest of honour.

All stages of the competition are to be held publicly for the viewers’ delight. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be held as auditions on July 24, 25 and 26, when the participants will perform their chosen arias from the world of opera. On July 29, 10 finalists will perform in a gala concert format under the accompaniment of the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Domingo himself.

Operalia was founded in 1993 to discover young talent and help them launch their careers, event officials state on its website.

“Domingo’s goal is to attract singers of all voice tessituras and from every country in the world ranging from 18-32 years of age, to have them audition and be heard by a panel of distinguished international opera personalities in the most prestigious and competitive showcase in the world.” it notes.

According to official data, the organisers receive more than 1,000 applications each year.

“A select jury of three respected opera professionals listens to every recording submitted and rates them in a one-ten scale. The scores are tallied, uncommon discrepancies in the scoring are jointly discussed and the top 40 candidates are invited to participate in that year’s competition. (A few singers are also held in reserve, in case one or more of the selected candidates are unable to accept the invitation),” explain the organisers.

“The jury of ten opera experts, presided by Domingo as a non-voting member, convenes in a different international host city every year to listen to all 40 finalists live during two days of quarterfinals. Each singer begins by selecting and singing one opera aria from a list of four arias that he or she has chosen and the jury then asks the singer to perform a second aria from that list. If the singer is also competing in the zarzuela category, he or she also interprets a zarzuela aria. Twenty participants are then selected to continue on to the semifinals, in which they sing one aria chosen by the jury and – if they are competing in the zarzuela category – one zarzuela aria as well. From the 20 semifinalists, ten singers are chosen for the Final Round.”

The jury is represented by ten opera directors from world’s renowned opera houses.

The following is a detailed list of prize categories and purses for winners in each classification:

Two First Prizes (male/female) – US$30,000

Two Second Prizes (male/female) – US$20,000

Two Third Prizes (male/female) – US$10,000

Two Birgit Nilsson Prizes (male/female) – US$15,000

Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela – US$10,000

Don Plácido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela – US$10,000

Two Audience Prizes (male/female) – watch offered by Rolex

Culturarte Prize chosen and offered by Bertita and Guillermo Martinez from CulturArte de Puerto Rico – US$10,000

Tied winners may also receive a prize.

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Kazakhstan’s spiritual renewal will be supported by all society, scholar believes

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:02

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ALMATY – Culture and spirituality are the life of the people, their mind and heart, their past, present and future, says Kazakh National Academy of Science corresponding member and Mukhtar Auezov Institute of Literature and Art Director Ualikhan Kalizhanov.

In his article “Course towards the future: modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity,” President Nursultan Nazarbayev has outlined ambitious tasks for scientists, cultural figures and intellectuals.

Modernisation of public consciousness will become the core of the ongoing political and economic transformations. In Kazakhstan, the cultural and spiritual heritage of the people is systematically studied and promoted.

Since 2004, the state Madeni Mura (Cultural Heritage) programme has allowed, in particular, to return the manuscript collections of literary heritage, published in the 19th-20th centuries in the Arabic, Latin and Old Turkic alphabets, the texts of folklore that had not been published earlier. Only scientists understand the efforts spent to study the texts, restore the names of religious and historical personalities, tale-tellers, copyists and folklorists, clarify geographical names, compose various versions of texts and write scientific opinions and explanations for the unique corpus of Kazakh folklore “Babalar Sozi” in 100 volumes. I was a witness and participant in the preparation of the last 20 volumes of this project; I lived each one through my heart. This publication will make a significant contribution to the renewal of national consciousness, spirit and culture.

The Great Steppe survived both the times of great prosperity and the burden of turbulent times. Al-Farabi, Mahmud al-Kashgari, Balasaguni, Al-Khorezmi, Ibn-Sina, Yassawi and Ulykbek, who lived in different epochs, have made an invaluable contribution to the development of world civilisation. The works of the geniuses of the steppe gave impetus to the Renaissance in Europe. Today, the names of Navoi, Nizami, Magtumguli, Abai, Nazim Hikmet, Gabdulla Tukay, Chingiz Aitmatov, Abdi-Zhamil Nurpeissov and many other poets and writers became symbols of Turkic literature. Their heritage still continues to be studied.

The golden age of studying Kazakh literature is associated with the period of independence. What projects are implemented by your institute?

There is great importance of folklore, literature and art in the development of modern national consciousness. Thus, the publication of the classic works of Kazakh scholars of the past years enriched our science and was really embodied in the Gylymi Kazyna (Scholarly Wealth) project finished by the institute. It is important to show the way the ideas of independence were formed under conditions of sovereignty, the way we overcame the obstacles of censorship and ideological dictate. In the series “Classical Studies,” the works of Russian scientists, Russian orientalists, folklorists and collectors of the musical heritage of the Kazakh people are returning to modernity; they are gaining new life.

Speaking about preserving the national identity, the President stressed: “Our national traditions and customs, language and music, literature and wedding ceremonies – in a word, the national spirit – must remain with us forever. Abai’s wisdom, Auezov’s pen, Zhambyl’s penetrating lines, the magic sounds of Kurmangazy and the eternal call of Aruah are only a part of our spiritual culture.” The “Anthology of Kazakh Music” in eight books, published first by the Institute within the framework of the Cultural Heritage programme under the management of Doctor of Art History Sarah Kuzembai, is an original dialogue with the past and a spiritual testament to descendants, the opening of new angles of the original centuries-long culture of the Kazakh people.

No modernisation can take place without preserving the national culture. “A special attitude towards our native land, its culture, customs and traditions is the most important feature of patriotism. This is the basis of the cultural and genetic code that makes any nation a nation and not a collection of individuals,” says Nazarbayev. The head of state also notes: “Even largely modernised societies contain codes of culture, the origins of which go back to the past. The first condition for a new type of modernisation is the preservation of its culture, its own national code.”

Could you please explain the meaning of the cultural code concept which is actively used nowadays?

The cultural code of the nation is the key to understanding this type of culture, since it incorporates unique cultural features that are transmitted from its ancestors. The cultural code defines the people’s psychology and consciousness. In world history, in accordance with the epoch, the state policy and the level of culture, the role of socio-cultural codes gets transformed, but they preserve their identity and national features.

The cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan is original and unique, as are the culture and literature of ethnic groups inhabiting our republic. The literary process of Kazakhstan at the present stage undoubtedly has a common unifying principle. In the first half of the 1990s Kazakhstan experienced a literary boom, the creative activity of poets and writers became more active. Newspapers started publishing in Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, English, German, Korean, Uzbek, Uighur, Turkish and other languages. Theatre and music performances appeared on the stages of national theatres; ethnic schools started functioning in places of compact residence of ethnic minorities.

The cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan is reflected in contemporary literature and art. Kazakhstan is a common motherland for everyone who lives in this land. The authors of works, regardless of nationality, are characterised by a very personal, emotional attitude to their homeland. The artistic concept of “My Kazakhstan” in a number of ethnic literatures is reflected as the Eurasian cultural and aesthetic mentality.

Literature continues to play an important role in the development of modern national identity. The newest literature of Kazakhstan is distinguished by the variety of topics, the richness of poetics and style. The national literature of the sovereign republic over the past 25 years has been enriched with significant poetic and prosaic works in which the preservation of national identity, the importance of historical continuity and ethnic memory are revealed through the strengthening of ethnic motives. The authors of the monographs “Literature of the People of Kazakhstan” and “Modern Literature of the People of Kazakhstan examined the national literature of the republic as a single community.

In general, the study of the cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan remains one of the key moments in understanding the essence of a particular person and nation in the new millennium.

The President proposed launching a project called “Modern Kazakh culture in the global world.” The Institute of Literature and Art has experience cooperating with translators and publishing works of Kazakh cultural heritage abroad. What has already been done in this direction?

Through the initiative of a number of diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan, the embassies in Turkey and Poland published “Kunge Ushkan Sunkar” in the Turkish and Kazakh languages and “Kyz Zhibek,” “Koblandy Batyr,” and Kazakh folk tales in Polish. In South Korea, in Korean and English, the epics “Kozy-Korpesh – Bayan-Sulu,” “Kyz Zhibek,” “Kambar Batyr” and fairy tales have been published.

In the Kasachiche Bibliothek series, works by Abai and prose by Mukhtar Auezov, Ilyas Esenberlin, Tahawi Akhtanov, Abish Kekilbayev, Moris Simashko, Gerold Belger, Valery Mikhailov and many other authors were published in German. Great assistance in helping the Kazakh embassy staff publish this series was provided by an old friend of our institute: publisher, writer and translator Leonhard Kossuth. It is thanks to him that Abai was first pronounced in German.

Abai’s poetic collections were published in Belarusian, translated by Mykola Metlitsky; in Polish, translated by Raissa Yukhnevich; and in Korean, translated by Kim Ben Hak. The institute has published a scientific collection, “Abai Kunanbayev’s Creativity in Foreign Presentations,” which demonstrates the popularity of the great Abai in different countries.

The institute promotes the best examples of modern national culture and literature to the rest of the world. With the support of the International Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the volumes “A Song is Singing Under the Dombra. Folklore and Literary Monuments of Kazakhstan,” “The Heavens Above My Head. Folklore and Literary Monuments of Kazakhstan,” and “Under the Sail of the Eternal Sky” were published in the Classic Literature of the CIS series. Editions were presented in the Sorbonne and in Vienna and Berlin, and transferred to the Sorbonne library. This will help European researchers get acquainted with the rich literary heritage of Kazakhstan and CIS countries.

The epic narrations of founder and first president of the Kazakhstan PEN Club Abdi-Zhamil Nurpeissov, “Blood and Sweat” and “Final Respects,” which address mankind’s actions in the 20th century, have been translated into 35 languages. New editions of “Final Respects” have been published in Russia, and now both books have been published in English. Well-known world newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times both covered the publications. French literary critic Albert Fischler called the works of Nurpeissov “a great historical fresco” acquainting readers with the ancient and complex history of the Kazakh people.

Do the leading scientists of your institute study modern world literary trends?

Of course. In co-authorship with foreign literary scholars and critics, “Essays on World Literature at the Turn of the 20th and 21st Centuries” and “The Newest Foreign Literature and The World Literary Process of the 21st Century” were published.

The International Union of German Culture with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany in Moscow published the second edition of the anthology of German literature, “Der Misstrauischen Sonne Entgegen” (“Toward the Mistrustful Sun”). The works of Kazakh-German writers Rudolf Jacmien, Alexei Debolsky and Gerold Belger and articles about their work by well-known Kazakh literary critic and member of our institute Svetlana Ananiyeva were published there.

Tell us about well-received anthologies of modern Kazakh literature published in English.

The publication of the anthologies “The Stories of the Great Steppe” and “Summer Evening, Prairie Night, Land of Golden Wheat. The Outside World in Kazakh Literature” was a joint project of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United States, Columbia University and the Auezov Institute of Literature and Art. According to American scientists Robert Gutmann and Paul Michael Taylor, “The Stories of the Great Steppe” help readers take “an intellectual and literary journey to Kazakhstan” and open to the English-speaking reader “the new world of Central Asian literature – the diversity of culture and the multilingualism of Kazakhstan.” The book is used as a teaching aid in universities in the United States where Kazakhstan and Kazakh culture is studied.

Since ancient times, the nomads have developed their own specific vision of the relationship between man and nature. “Summer Evening, Prairie Night, Land of Golden Wheat. The Outside World in Kazakh Literature,” which includes works by 19th and 20th century authors, allows us to see how environmental issues have evolved and become better understood, and how the study of the problem of “man and nature” has developed. The reader finds in the works of Kazakh authors, from Abai to Olzhas Suleimenov and from Mukhtar Auezov to Satimzhan Sanbayev, pictures of the traditional way of life, historical events, landscape descriptions and so on.

The publication of the anthologies was an important milestone in advancing the achievements of Kazakh literature abroad, enhancing its international image. New translations of works by Kazakh authors have now become available to English-speaking readers.

Where did the presentation of these publications take place?

The anthologies were presented at the National Press Club in Washington, at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, at Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana, and with the participation of the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in our country, at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United States and at the Permanent Mission Kazakhstan to the UN in Geneva.

I will also add that the collection “The World of Olzhas Suleimenov” was published in the framework of the ongoing scientific project “Kazakh-American Literary Cooperation of the Newest Age.” The collection of articles, reviews, responses, forewords to Suleimenov’s books published in foreign countries and interviews with the poet continues the series International Relations in Kazakh Literature and reveals Suleimenov’s creative role in Germany, Poland, Mongolia, the U.S., France, and South Korea. The presentation of this book was an event for the cultural life of the country and generated discussion abroad.

The authors of the new collective monograph “Kazakh-American Literary Links: Current State and Prospects” trace the transformation of the spiritual aspirations of writers and poets of the two countries. At the centre of the study of Russian and American literary critics is the newest period of Kazakh-American literary cooperation, the identification of trends and innovations in the system of contemporary literary and cultural contacts. The Auezov Institute of Literature and Art is developing the theme of the transformation of the American and Kazakh novel at the present stage.

Do you think Kazakhstan’s scientific and creative community is ready to implement the projects identified by the head of state?

Undoubtedly. This was also indicated by the previous fruitful activity of scientific organisations, theatres, creative universities, scientists, musicians, poets and writers … New projects, for sure, will be supported by all Kazakhs.

The President sees computer literacy and knowledge of foreign languages as a factor in the success of the nation in the 21st century. We will be known by our cultural achievements; that’s why the head of state includes competitiveness in the modern world of culture on the agenda for the next few years.

The spiritual renewal of our society, the unity of the people of Kazakhstan will contribute to the implementation of those global tasks.

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World-renowned musicians to perform at May 26-29 Astana Keshteri festival

Tue, 2017-05-16 08:12

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana will host the Astana Keshteri music festival for the sixth time May 26-29 at three venues, reported Tengrinews.kz.

According to the organisers, this is one of the most important cultural events in the country. Its main goal is to allow the widest audience to get to know the masterpieces of world art. Therefore, tickets for concerts are always distributed free of charge. Their distribution will start May 16 at the Organ Hall of Kazakh National University, 33 Pobedy Avenue. The contact number is 87786114798.

The festival will present the audience four evenings with the participation of recognised music masters from around the world, including performers of classical, popular and variety music.

The evening of classical music will be May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Astana Opera, where one of the brightest cello players of the younger generation Alexander Ramm and the Honoured Artist of Russia Natalia Trull (piano) will perform. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform, conducted by the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Abzal Mukhitdinov

On May 27, the Organ Hall of Kazakh National University of Arts will host an evening of chamber-vocal music at 7 p.m. The leading soloist of the capital’s opera Maira Mukhamedkyzy, Honoured Art Worker of Kazakhstan Timur Urmancheyev (piano) and other musicians will perform that day.

Martin Sander (Germany), professor of organ at the Hochschule für Musik (University of Music) Detmold and at the University of Music in Basel, who is also a jury member in international competitions will be performing at the same venue on May 28 at 7 p.m.

The jazz evening will take place in the Palace of Peace and Harmony on May 29 at 7 p.m. A legend of world jazz, five-time Grammy winner Randy Brecker and Kazakh jazz band conducted by Aleksandr Belyakov will perform. Deborah Davis from the United Stated will sing.

The festival is held on the initiative and under the patronage of Dariga Nazarbayeva, who heads the board of trustees of the Degdar Humanitarian Fund.

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Second STEM and Art Festival takes place in Atyrau

Tue, 2017-05-16 04:36

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

It is unlikely that there will be a person who challenges the generally accepted truth that “the youth is our future.” Since each of us wants to see Kazakhstan in the ranks of the world’s most competitive countries in the near future, the country’s development vector is aimed at innovative education of Kazakhstan’s youth. Organisers of the second STEM and Art Festival, or STEAM Fest, held in Atyrau on April 30 as part of the Zangar educational project, did not stand aside.

Increasing the interest of children and youth in studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which is of great importance in in the 21st century, and demonstrating STEM’s capabilities in art development became the main goals of the STEAM Festival organized by the International Youth Foundation in cooperation with Chevron, the Akimat of Atyrau region and local partner organisations. At the same time, the slogan of the festival, “Build a city with your family!”, calling on children and their parents to spend time in an interesting and useful way, contributed to the fact that the fest became a truly family event.

“We tried to diversify the content of the festival to make it interesting for all guests. While the target audience of the Zangar project is local youth aged from 10 to 22 years old, we organise STEM festivals for the whole family. Through such events, we aim to promote STEM education and show that STEM is not difficult and that basic exercises can be done at home, which can be a pleasant and useful pastime for the whole family,” explained Assem Satmukhambetova, Director of the Representative Office of the International Youth Foundation in Kazakhstan.

The results of the STEAM participants’ activities were reflected in the construction of the Zangar-City, a shared project presented by “smart” houses, houses with thermal insulation, eco-landscape and wind generators. The youngsters were enabled to implement all these ideas as they master knowledge and skills in engineering design, robotics and programming under the guidance of experienced trainers and volunteers. Acquiring the basics of engineering, younger children helped to decorate the city-project with “Skewer structures”, bridges and various 3D objects.

“I really liked the STEAM Fest, as I contributed to the construction of Zangar-City. It is wonderful when you can build a house, various structures, and create a game on the computer yourself. This experience was very useful for me. Working in a team with other guys, I found new friends here. We would like this festival to be continued in the future,” shared his thoughts Azamat Khismetollayev, 12.

The Dino Museum project located within the Zangar-City deserved a special attention. The fascinating work on the creation of the museum exhibits helped the children master the fundamental knowledge of 3D modelling. Meanwhile, what has become a custom of Zangar Festivals is the robotics competitions organised among participants of eight robotics clubs of the Zangar project. Such a variety of STEM activities has become possible with the help of Bolashak Engineering and Sumato Batys, local partners of the International Youth Foundation.

A key feature of the second Festival was that through interactive workshops, such as 3D Printing in Art and STEM in Jewellery, participants were given the opportunity to look at Art from the point of view of natural sciences. This allowed them to see the relationship between the two domains not connected with each other at first glance. It is noteworthy that the 3D Printing in Art seminar was held by first Zangar graduates, including Kairali Ashigaliyev, Alibek Yerzhanov and Yelisey Chalov who assembled a 3D printer using Fab Lab Atyrau’s technical potential. The youth could also see the STEM capacity for art development in the presented installations prepared by Zangar project’s participants, and including those developed under the guidance of the representatives of Sariyev Atyrau Regional Museum of Fine and Decorative Applied Arts. The art direction was also presented by master classes organized by ArtLab and a pottery master Aisulu Sanat.

Supporting the interest of their children in STEM-education, parents highly appreciated the importance of the event. Gulmira Gazizkyzy, who visited the STEAM Fest with her daughter, said: “My daughter learned computer programmes, and based on that she was able to make some products herself. STEM is important for the future and, hence, it is very important to promote it among our youth. As a parent I would like such events to be held more often.”

Parent support and successful mini-projects of young participants of the Festival gives hope for further active involvement of Atyrau youth in STEM-education. The construction of Zangar-City has surpassed expectations.

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Kazakh transport, logistics and financial opportunities discussed at European Economic Congress

Tue, 2017-05-16 02:44

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan presented May 10-12 its transport and logistics opportunities and discussed its potential to become a financial hub at the IX European Economic Congress in Katowice, Poland, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) press service reports.

Kazakhstan’s delegation briefed the conference participants on the country’s transport infrastructure and the creation of favourable conditions for implementing logistics and investment projects. The conference sessions also discussed Kazakhstan’s development as a financial and logistics hub.

“The transport and logistics infrastructure on the Kazakh-Chinese border at the Khorgos-Eastern Gate SEZ [special economic zone] and the Kazakh-Chinese terminal in the port of Lianyungang act as consolidation centres for cargo flows in the transport-logistics chain that connects the largest poles of Eurasia’s economy through Kazakhstan’s territory,” said Sergei Anashkin, executive director of KTZ Express, a subsidiary of KTZ national railway company.

The Kazakh delegation, which also included the representatives of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and the Damu Business Development Fund, participated in the congress together with some 6,000 delegates from African states, China, India, Japan, Vietnam and the states of the Arabian Peninsula.

The event included debates on economy and public life, priority issues of the European economy, establishment of trade contacts and implementation of joint projects.

As part of the congress, the Kazakh delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki. The participation of Polish business circles in EXPO 2017, as well as cooperation in the transport and financial fields were discussed at the meeting.

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Astana taxi companies form single association, large unified service

Tue, 2017-05-16 02:39

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana’s taxi companies have formed into a single association called  Astana Taxi and will now have a uniform taxi design, tariff’s and point-of-sale for card payments.

Photo credit: astana.gov.kz

Hundred of car keys were handed over to taxi companies, such as Taxi Zhebe under the Zhebe brand and Autotrans Hozu (Eco taxi), according to the press service of the capital’s city administration.

“The lowest fare from Eco or Zhebe taxi operators was 750 tenge (US$2.37) before, it will be 500 tenge (US$1.58) now,” Deputy Akim (Mayor) of Astana Malika Bekturova said.

The project addresses safety and convenience for residents and visitors of the capital by increasing the amount of a legal carrier vehicle, according to the press service.

Getting 200 more cars ready and launch is currently underway as part of the project. More taxi vehicles are to be obtained prior to the opening of EXPO 2017, including 300 new cars and 300 units from working taxi companies.

All participants of this programme have a signed agreement with Astana’s city administration, where terms for drivers’ training, abidance by all statutory regulations for a car’s appearance, technical condition and single fares rates are shown.

Cars are assembled in Kazakhstan, in accordance with an official instruction of the head of state for supporting the domestic automotive industry and creating a single taxi service in Astana, Almaty and other regions.

The press service of the akimat noted that the project’s second stage and additional services will be implemented in Astana by September. Additional 300 taxi cars will begin their work and free Wi-Fi will be provided for passengers inside cabs.

The new taxi service will also offer a single call centre, a convenient mobile app, Astana Taxi, and taximeter inside every taxi vehicle.

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Nazarbayev signs law defining borrower protections

Tue, 2017-05-16 02:33

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed May 6 a debt collection act and related amendments regulating how collection agencies can pursue borrowers and other elements related to debt collection.

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz

“The draft law focuses on protecting the rights of borrowers. … The law defines the rights and obligations of all parties down to a time when a debt collector is allowed to contact a debtor and the type of primary information he or she is to be given,” Anatoliy Glukhov, head of the association of micro lenders said during the draft law consideration at the Mazhilis, Tengrinews.kz reported.

Earlier it was reported that deputies of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) approved amendments to the debt collection act during the second reading.

According to these amendments, debt collectors can now interact with debtors only from 8 a.m.  to 9 p.m. during workdays and are not allowed to contact them during weekends and holidays.

In a similar vein, an provision was made to prohibit a lender from charging a late debt payment fee during the period of debt recovery from debt collection agency as well as prohibit demanding compensation accrued on specified period.

Mandatory fixation of an interaction with debtors by a debt collection agency through the use of audio and video equipment will also be introduced.

It is not allowed for two debt collection agencies to perform debt-collecting pertaining to one open amount.

The legislation seeks to increase efficiency and safety in the work on debt collection, protection of debtors’ rights and interests from illegal actions by debt collection agencies, regulating debt collection and increasing its transparency.

As announced at the Mazhilis, the work on the document has been done in close cooperation with the deputies, drafters and general public. The standings of both creditors and borrowers were taken into consideration in the draft law.

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