Opening Statement by H.E. Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the VIII Astana Economic Forum “Africa – the World’s Next Economic Driver”
May 21. MFA. Astana. Palace of Independence
H.E. Mr. Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Africa
H.E. Madam Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme
Excellencies,ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to welcome all of you today.
I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the prospects for cooperation between Kazakhstan and African states.
Kazakhstan is a young, modern, democratic state, which – in a little over two decades of independence – has achieved impressive progress and made a significant contribution to regional and global security.
Through our growing engagement in international affairs and in regional and international fora, Kazakhstan has gained significant experience on some of the most important and complex issues on the global agenda today. And now we believe the time is right – indeed it is our duty – to step up further and play a greater role in promoting international peace and security.
Kazakhstan has recently embarked on a new, long-term development plan – the 2050 Strategy. At the heart of this plan is the ambition to raise our nation into the top 30 most developed countries of the world by 2050.
Today, as we respond to the threats we face, Kazakhstan has proclaimed New Economic Policy – The Path to the Future (Nurly Zhol). It will be countercyclical in nature and will be targeted to the continuation of structural reforms in our economy.
A total of 200,000 new jobs will be created only at the account of construction of roads. And this means employment and growth of income of the population. Roads are lifelines for Kazakhstan. Life has always emerged and developed in our vast expanses around roads.
We know we will not achieve our bold ambitions on our own. Strategy 2050 envisions wide-ranging dialogue and cooperation with all countries interested in mutually beneficial partnerships with Kazakhstan, particularly in the fields of trade, investment, technology, innovation and expertise.
Expanding Kazakhstan’s relations with Africa has long been an ambition of mine and I am greatly looking forward to attending the upcoming African Union Assembly in Johannesburg in June of this year.
Kazakhstan became an Observer-state in the African Union in November 2013, and as the Foreign Minister of the youngest AU Observer Nation, I want to stress our commitment to strengthening relations between the Republic of Kazakhstan, the African Union and its Member States. We are confident that there are many opportunities to increase co-operation and expand partnerships between the AU and individual member countries and Kazakhstan.
The international community has recognized that Africa is a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique challenges. While considerable progress has been made at the international level to address the issues that threaten Africa, much more remains to be done in an urgent manner. Vulnerabilities in the energy, water and food sectors and the diminishing access to them must be overcome.
Today’s panel session has been specially designed to have an open discussion on this critical issues, sharing experiences and learning from each other, thus paving the way for Kazakhstan’s future collaboration with Africa.
Within the past twenty years, Kazakhstan has moved from being a recipient of aid to being a provider of humanitarian assistance – for example, we donated half a million dollars to Somalia during the terrible drought there in 2011. Kazakhstan has also made 50 000$ financial aid because of the humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic.
Kazakhstan also practically contributes to humanitarian efforts around the world, including in Africa. Our financial contributions to combat Ebola, made to the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) in the amount of $300,000 as well as to the United Nations Ebola Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN Ebola MPTF) in the amount of $50,000, demonstrates our commitment, in the face of this major health challenge, to help build Africa’s security and stability.
In 2014, Kazakhstan has also supported a joint project of the United Nations, African Union and CARICOM to commemorate victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade for the purpose of prevention of racism and racial discrimination. Allocation of money to this project was Kazakhstan’s message to the international community, reflecting its hopes for the better future for the humanity and commitment to the individual freedom, tolerance, respect for human dignity and human rights.
We are now establishing our own development agency – KazAID – which will focus on both financial assistance and knowledge transfer and we look forward to learning from your experiences as well.
We also stand for fruitful functioning of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund as an important tool for ensuring predictable, adequate and timely financing of international humanitarian operations.
The Government of Kazakhstan is launching a program of courses in the field of oil and gas industry, agriculture and medicine for a number of African countries in June of 2015. The Partnership Program will provide training, internships, field trips and workshops to give our partner nations access to the professional training and opportunities on offer at the leading educational institutions in Kazakhstan. About hundred students from African states are going to visit Kazakhstan this summer to join this program.
Kazakhstan fully supports the peacekeeping role of the UN. We are currently deploying military observers to four UN peacekeeping missions based in Western Sahara, Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia.
These are just some examples of the very real efforts and contributions we are making to development, peace and security around the world.
Much remains to be done to overcome the vulnerabilities faced, especially in the energy sector where Kazakhstan is leading a number of important initiatives which I believe can be of help to African nations.
Realizing that energy will have an increasingly large impact on our collective security in the future, Kazakhstan has chosen the theme of “Future Energy” for EXPO-2017, which will be hosted in Astana. The EXPO, along with other efforts, is our contribution towards implementing the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and will become a platform for presenting innovations in the global energy industry as well as an opportunity for countries to learn from each other.
We want and invite African nations to be closely involved in the Expo. That is why the Government of Kazakhstan hosted the African Future Energy Seminars in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana this July, which was attended by a number of representatives from your region. We want to make sure the Expo focuses attention on your issues and needs and brings real benefits to the members of African group.
Kazakhstan pays great attention to food and water security. Food security is one of top items on the agenda of both developed and poor countries. In that context the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at the 38rd Session of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Astana has put forward the initiative on the creation of food security system in the OIC space. Astana is going to become the host for the OIC’s food security headquarters in the nearest future.
Drinking water supply is one of humanities top issues in the 21st century. According to the experts, nowadays more than two billion people suffer from water deprivation. By 2015 half of our planet’s population is going to suffer from constant lack of water, where as in 10 years more than two thirds will be afflicted. Water is constantly becoming one of the most precious natural resources. 20th century was noted by several ecological crises, such as the lowering of sea level in Aral (Central Asia) and extreme draught in Sahal (Africa).
Which is why we stand firm on finding immediate solutions to all water-related problems.
As the world’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan is sensitive to the plight of geographically disadvantaged states. Countries without access to the sea are dependent on the goodwill of transit states, are threatened by conflict with neighboring exclusive economic zones, and often lack the natural resources necessary to provide security for their citizens. Kazakhstan would like to work with other development partners to help address LLDC’s shared challenges.
As a landlocked country facing significant geographical disadvantages, Kazakhstanunderstands the threats and challenges facing Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDC) in the African region. There is a lot we can learn from each other, which is our delegation is planning to take part in the LLDC summit in Zambia (June, 2015).
Since poverty and deprivation breed conflict, our efforts must also be directed at sustainable development of the continent as part of peacebuilding and recovery processes.
Africa’s economic growth and development in the last decade has been remarkable. So, too, has progress in Kazakhstan. There is much than can be achieved, for the benefit of all our citizens, by strengthening co-operation between our peoples and economies.
In its turn, the opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Addis Ababa in December 2014 with accreditation under the AU is a momentous event and a clear message about readiness of the Republic of Kazakhstan to comprehensive cooperation both within strengthening interaction with the AU and enhancing bilateral cooperation with African countries.
It is also clear that we need urgent joint action for the longer we delay, the more difficult and costly it will be to sustain current levels of well-being and prosperity. It is incumbent on all of us to ask ourselves: what are we doing to make a difference?
In short, we believe we have much to offer – individually to African countries (in terms of know-how, trade and investment), but also collectively to the global community: Our track record of multi-lateral engagement, our strong belief in addressing the water-energy-food security nexus, our commitment to non-proliferation, as well as our support for conflict prevention and mediation.
By hosting today’s event Kazakhstan wanted to demonstrate the values and ambitions it shares with Africa and its commitment to strengthening links with African States. I would like to reaffirm that Kazakhstan is interested in comprehensive and long-term cooperation with the African group and its member states.
It is our hope that this panel session will offer exchanges and new learning among countries and participants, through productive deliberations.
Kazakhstan is committed to joining the efforts of the global community in order to explore new ways of building a more environmentally friendly and energy, water and food secure world.
This is why we have put ourselves forward for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2017-2018, the election for which is in 2016. Food, water, energy and nuclear security are main pillars of our campaign – these issues which I hope resonate with your nation’s priorities.
I would like to assure you that as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Kazakhstan will champion causes that are dear to the African group, and will work to promote the interests of your countries and your continent.
We therefore ask you for your support – and promise that you can count on ours in the future.
Thank you very much for your attention.