Nazarbayev’s leadership story published here

By Kim Yoo-chul


Nazarbayev's leadership story published hereOne event on Sunday captured a neighborly relationship between Korea and Kazakhstan, made possible through mutual respect despite the geographical distance.

Their respect is based on Korea’s successful economic model and Kazakhstan’s bold effort to remove its Soviet legacy and become nuclear-free.

That was why the biography of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev was published in Korean and an event to mark the occasion was held Sunday in Seoul with a press conference with the British biography author.

“It’s true that the Kazakhstan President has a lot of charm, charisma and “It’s true that the Kazakhstan President has a lot of charm, charisma and good sense of humor. I wrote the biography

Jonathan Aitken

to tell his story,’’ said Jonathan Aitken, the biographer in a meeting with reporters in a Seoul hotel, Sunday. Brit Aitken is a former member of Parliament.

“My purpose is to make a wider audience know him. I’m very pleased that this book has now been translated into Korean,’’ he said.

The biography is entitled, “Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan.’’ The publication event was helped by LG Group.

An LG official said that the two countries enjoy mutually beneficial relations. Kazakhstan has seen a steep rise in per capita income to $10,000, now with an eye on the $20,000 mark, the threshold Korea has just crossed.

“Our ongoing project in Kazakhstan has seen substantial progress thanks to the healthy partnership between LG and Kazakhstan. Details for financing for the project and others are underway without disruption,’’ said LG Chem CEO Kim Bahn-suk, one of the senior LG officials attending the event.

The company plans to build a $4.2 billion petrochemical plant in Kazakhstan. This is also the biggest project since its independence 20 years ago.

LG Chem will hold a 50 percent stake with Kazakhstan’s state-run United Chemical (UCC) being among its partners.

For the writer, the Kazakhstan President has a lot of interesting points to write about, something that would delight any biographer.

Nazarbayev was briefly a steel worker and he transformed Central Asia’s top oil producer to achieve over 10 percent in GDP growth between 2000 and 2007, though its economy is slowly recovering from the global economic downturn.

He has served as president since 1989. But Aitken is still insisting that Nazarbayev is a “popular and compassionate leader,’’ who “does have a real heart for society’s most underprivileged people,” a rebuttal to some outside critics.

He was reelected in 1999 and 2005 with a stunning 95 percent of the vote.

The Kazakhstan government didn’t pay Aitken, though the book is generally positive about the nation and its leader. Interestingly enough, the biography is not for sale.

He believes that the Kazakhstan President isn’t a “dictator.’’ Rather, according to his views, Nazarbayev is an autocratic head of government, but sensitive to all kinds of pressures and criticisms in a way that dictators aren’t.

“If there are interesting historical figures in Korea, yes. But not for right now as Thatcher is keeping me quite busy and that’s enough currently,’’ said Aitken when asked by reporters if he plans to write a biography for high-profile Koreans.

Those at the event included Kairat Umarov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan; Kazakhstan Ambassador to Korea Dulat Bakishev; Kim Jae-shin, deputy minister for political affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Moon Jae-do, vice minister of international affairs at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Kazakhstan delegates led by Nazarbayev are currently here for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit that includes top officials from 53 countries.

An LG Chem official hoped that any help rendered from the publication event would be taken as a token of friendship.

The biography of the Kazakhstan President was translated into six other languages.