GOVERNMENT Weekly REVIEW. XVIII session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization. French President arrived in Kazakhstan. Kazakh Prime Minister visited Kyrgyzstan.


Rizvana Sadykova

This week was full of many important international events that took place in the capital city Astana. First of all Head of the State Nursultan Nazarbayev took  part in the XVIII session of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization in the Palace of Peace and Harmony.

Over 140 delegations from 120 countries of the world took part in the General Assembly’s session, which is held for the first time in Eurasia. 80 tourism ministers from different countries of the world are among the guests. In his speech Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that Kazakhstan is the first country of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which was honored to hold such forum. Share of the tourism sphere makes up 10 percent of the volume of the world GDP. Almost a quarter of a billion workers are engaged in this sphere. The tourist revenue reaches USD 4 trln in the global scale. The tourist business ensures over USD 800 bln of tax revenues to all states of the world. Over a decade Kazakhstan’s economy increased from USD 400 per capita to USD 8.500 in 2008 as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced it at the opening of XVIII session of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The Head of the State emphasized that 140 ethnos live in Kazakhstan; every ethnic group has opportunity to maintain its culture, traditions and language. The President paid attention to that at present interest of foreign tourists to Kazakhstan grows. According to marketing research, about 14 mln tourists from Europe and Asia plan to visit Kazakhstan in the nearest future.

As it is known, Kazakhstan expects big tourist flow ahead of the VII Asian Winter Games planned for 2011 in Astana and Almaty. According to the President, holding of Asian Games will become a powerful incitement for tourism development in our country. The total income from tourism amounted to KZT 74 billion in 2008 that is by 17% more as compared to 2007.

Kazakh Minister of Tourism and Sport Temirkhan Dosmukhambetov was elected chairman of the 18 session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization. “I am convinced that Kazakhstan possesses unique opportunities and natural resources for sustainable development of tourism and that our young country, forcing the process of the development of the national tourism industry, will use the experience of countries that have already passed this way successfully”, T.Dosmukhambetov said.

On October 6 President of France Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Astana with one-day official visit. Secretary of State – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev, Minister of Economy and Budget Planning Bakhyt Sultanov and Mayor of the capital city Imangali Tasmagambetov met the high guest at the Astana International Airport. The President of France was acquainted with the master plan of the capital in the Palace of Independence. “Kazakhstan’s role in ensuring regional security is of great importance. France considers Kazakhstan to be its political partner. “Kazakhstan plays a very important role in ensuring stability in the region. We need you in regulation of the crisis situation in Afghanistan and Iran, building new relations with Russia, in struggle against extremism and in solution of all critical situations in the region – in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and Ossetia conflicts”, he said.

Within the framework of the high official visit Kazakh-French business forum which gathered representatives of both countries business circles was held in Astana. Making a speech N. Nazarbayev welcomed those present French businessmen to take part in implementation of Kazakh projects. “France is one of the world leaders in the field of engineering and nuclear power industry and we can learn a lot from French experience,” he said. The economy ministries, business circles and commerce and industry chambers of the two states should continue cooperation. “We are ready to pass technologies and there is no taboo for us in this sphere. We strive for long-term mutually beneficial cooperation.  Of course we are interested in raw materials, but we have the world’s best manufacturing enterprises”, the French guest noted.

According to N. Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan still follows the policy of sustainable investment climate, which allowed to attract USD 93 billion of direct foreign investments over the years of the country’s independence and ensured economic growth. This is the first loan extended within the credit line of the French Bank opened earlier. Its total amount is EUR 200 mln. The attracted funds will be directed to financing supply of Finnish equipment within the investment project on construction of a gas-turbine electric power station at Akshabulak deposit under the coverage of Finnvera export credit agency (ECA). It is worthy to note that this is the first deal of the Kazakhstan Development Bank with the participation of foreign ECAs since beginning of restructuring Alliance and BTA Banks.

Following the results of negotiations both leaders signed a number of documents in oil-gas, space, military and atomic spheres. “We agreed that the French side will take part in construction project of the export-oil-trunk pipeline. It is an extremely important project which is one of the principal artery of the transport system of the Kazakhstan’s oil to Europe”, – N. Nazarbayev said at the press-conference following the results of negotiations with N. Sarkozy. Among signed documents was a Memorandum on mutual understanding between Kazmunaigaz and SPIKAPAG Company on ‘Eskene-Kuryk’ pipeline. The document was signed by Chairman of Kazmunaigaz Kairgeldy Kabyldin and President of “Antrepoz Contracting” Dominic Bouvie. As is known ‘Eskene-Kuryk’ is oriented firstly at Kashagan deposit. According to Kazakh Minister of Energy and Mineral Recourses Sauat Mynbayev the amount of financing will be known after preparation of the project. “At the moment the limit amounted to USD 2.5 bln”, – the Minister said. He also informed that ‘Eskene-Kuryk’ pipeline will be Kazakhstan’s property. “We are ready for expansion of cooperation at oil-gas fields. Participation of AREVA in production of uranium fuel assemblies in Kazakhstan is also of big importance”, Kazakh leader N. Nazarbayev noted. According to President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan expects successful implementation of large projects with France, including projects in space industry with EADS Astrium, joint production of combat communications equipment, production of pharmaceuticals on the basis of a Shymkent enterprise. The Kazakh and French governments also signed the agreements on cooperation in study and exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes; on conditions of creation and use of the earth remote sensing system and space vehicles assembly and testing complex. A trilateral agreement/memorandum on the principles of development of Khvalynskoye deposit was signed by KazMunaiGaz JSC with Total and Gas de France. Documents on establishment of a joint enterprise for marketing were signed between Kazatomprom and AREVA.

As far as the issues of global and regional security concerned both Presidents came to a conclusion that Kazakhstan and France have common positions regarding Afghanistan. As Kazakh President said: “Speaking about security in Kazakhstan or any Central Asian country we cannot but omit the problems of Afghanistan, Iran and the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” French President had brought forward an initiative to convene a special conference on Afghanistan problems. His Kazakh counterpart supported the idea of convocation of the conference on Afghanistan. He also noted that during the private meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy the issues of bilateral relations, regional security, problems of Afghanistan and Iran were discussed. “We have common opinion regarding these issues”, the President added. Kazakhstan also backed the initiative of France to convene a special conference on Afghanistan. Upon the results of the presidential talks the Governments of Kazakhstan and France signed the agreement on transit of military property and personnel through the territory of Kazakhstan in the context of participation of the French Armed Forces in ensuring stability and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

Kazakh President also voiced support to the initiative of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on an establishment of a World Environmental Organization on September 22 at the UN Summit on Climate Change. “We took a keen interest in your proposal to create an effective mechanism for technologies transfer between the developed and developing countries. We hope for active cooperation with France in this direction”, N. Nazarbayev said.

This week Head of the State received Minister of Transport and Communications Abelgazy Kussainov. He reported on the results of the ministry’s activity from the beginning of the year and prospects for the nearest future. In particular, he touched upon the development of Kazakhstan’s infrastructure within the framework of implementation of the Transport Strategy of the Republic of Kazakhstan till 2015. He told about practical realization of the project on development of the international road transport transit corridor “Western Europe – Western China”. In whole it is planned to improve quality of 86% of principal roads and 70% of local roads within the program of development of the national road network for 2008-2012. In accordance with the strategy of railway transport development, construction of the railroad lines Uzen – border with Turkmenistan and Korgas-Zhetygen is going on. In the field of air transport the Ministry is holding measures on renewal of the legal framework, transfer to the international quality standards and establishment of cooperation with the European Union.

On Wednesday Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov during his working visit met with President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Igor Chudinov in Bishkek. Talking about intermediate results of the negotiations with the Kyrgyz side taking place in Bishkek Kazakh Premier noted “The issues concerning bilateral relations in trade-economic, water-energy and cultural-humanitarian spheres are being discussed”. The parties exchanged opinions on the issues of further strengthening of the entire spectrum of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Following the negotiations behind closed doors heads of Kazakh and Kyrgyz Governments told mass media about the agreements on water-energy cooperation they reached. According to the Kazakh Premier, the sides reached principal agreements on work of the energy systems with account of possible withdrawal of Uzbekistan from the unified energy system. “The agreement on parallel operation of the Kazakh and Kyrgyz energy system is a very important and principal issue for us”, the Kyrgyz Prime Minister emphasized. He also informed that the sides agreed on coal supply from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that would ensure stable functioning of Bishkek Thermal Power Plant.  Heads of the Governments discussed a wide range of issues of implementation of decisions made by the Presidents of two countries within the working visit of the Kazakh Prime Minister to Kyrgyzstan.  The parties negotiated the issues of energy security and economy, usage of water resources of Karkyra River, regulation of the Kazakhstan’s property rights and rental payments for the use of the land of Issyk Kul territory where resorts of Kazakhstan are located.