The Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan discussed the Caspian agenda
Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov met with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tleuberdi in Nur-Sultan on Tuesday, where a meeting of foreign ministers in the Central Asia–China format is taking place.
During the conversation, the parties discussed regional policy issues, exchanged views on topical international issues. The most important topic of the talks was the Caspian issues and the holding of the 6th meeting of the heads of the Caspian states in Turkmenistan in 2022, according to the website of the Turkmen Foreign Ministry.
Rashid Meredov and Mukhtar Tleuberdi assessed the prospects for increasing bilateral trade and economic cooperation, as well as the interaction of the two countries in the regional context. In particular, attention was paid to the importance of maximizing the use of land and sea transport infrastructure in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan New Geopolitics and Its Version of “New Silk Road” – “Bright Road” Strategy
By Daniel Szkarupski and Vakhtang Maisaia
The step landmass of today’s Kazakhstan was a home to nomadic people for a very long time, governed by numerous external forces, for example the empire of the Mongols, the Russian Empire and later on the Soviet Union these nomads were used to being ruled by others rather than to self-govern its territory. This unfortunate trend was broken after the collapse of the USSR when the Republic of Kazakhstan was proclaimed. Kazakh people had a little time to celebrate though as the new challenging times were before them. From the step nomads occupied only with agriculture Kazakh people had to take the role of the host of their own land in the new, unknown, world order that lied ahead.
Each state had to find its own place in the new design of the Eurasia space. For Kazakhstan the formal and planned beginning of this journey was year 1997 when a strategy Kazakhstan 2030 was introduced. Its main goals were to restore an order after the collapse of the Soviet system by transforming into the market economy, preparing an entirely new social system but most of all creating a new Nation in terms of so-called “Noosphere” (Near Sphere), a Nation free from the grasp of foreign influences which was bound to go its own way. This was a strategy outlined during the disturbing times following the downfall of the soviet empire. The most visible symbol of the present day Kazakhstan way to the future emerged in 2012 when the then president Nursultan Nazarbayev in his address to the Nation outlined the Strategy “Kazakhstan 2050” presenting a far-reaching and multidimensional strategy which was bound to guarantee that Kazakhstan will be a prosperous country in various spheres of political existence.
To very first idea which comes to a mind is the geopolitical position between two superpowers, Russia and China, and further a huge European market, this gave Kazakhstan a chance to take a role of the east – west corridor, a role they decided to take without any hesitation. Just two years after announcing Strategy 2050 the authorities published a “Нұрлы Жол” / Bright Path plan to stimulate its economy by modernizing the existing infrastructure and create new roads, railways, ports, airports and IT infrastructure. The estimated budget was nine billion dollars. The major reason behind this initiative was to link with One Belt, One Road programme especially when it comes to the railway modernization. The main aim of the Astana was to serve as a gateway to Europe for the People’s Republic of China. The goal of being a buckle for the One Belt One Road initiative can be marked as achieved, Kazakhstan used its favourable geographical situating to its advantage and it worked perfectly as the Bright Road programme was not just a wishful thinking. Both Kazakh and Chinese officials realized that route through Kazakhstan gives more security and stability than the alternative route through the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring and the offensive of The Islamic State, which both make the region unstable till the the present, broke out. The circumstances were almost ideal for the Government in Astana and this ended up in a dynamic cooperation. Wave of international financing started floating to Kazakhstan from various institutions, for instance, Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the total number of projects carried out in Kazakhstan on 2020-10-05 reached 32. As it can be read in the outline published by the United States International Trade Administration the programme cover a variety of sectors including Architectural, Construction and Engineering Services, development of roads, railways and ports. What is particularly interesting is the case of airports as the number of such facilities with automated control systems is planned to rise from three to fifteen by the end of 2025. All this measures were implemented to strengthen the position of Kazakhstan as a main hub between the Asian space and European market. The first results are already visible in the official statistics of Bureau of National statistics of Kazakhstan, the number of operating railways dropped in 2011 to 14 892 kilometers, however in the following year it raised to 15 333 kilometers and was slowly but constantly increasing to the value of 16 635 km in 2019. The expansion of railway system connecting PRC and Republic of Kazakhstan is not slowing down even during the COVID pandemic as the new railway connecting China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with Nursultan was opened March 13, 2021.
With the development of infrastructure, the second strategical direction of expanding the trade by exporting should be an easy task, yet this was not a case in this particular area of development. According to statistics by the World Trade Organization there was a continuous growth in value of the export however since 2013 a constant drop can be observed, the decline ranged from 84,700 million dollars to 36,685 million dollars in 2016, a slight improvement occurred in the two-year period preceding the outbreak of COVID-19 to drop again when the pandemic started. This drop may put a strain on a formidably ambitious plan of the ex-president Nazarbayev, in his vision place Kazakhstan would be on the list of thirty most developed countries in the world in just thirty-eight years. The COVID -19 outbreak is bound to delay those plan as it had a deteriorating effect on both global and local economies alike.
Much stress was put on economics and building the welfare of Kazakh, however, this point was not the only goal set in the aforementioned document, politicians in Astana realized that after Bolsheviks imposed a Russian cultural code in their homeland a tactic to counter the effects of the Soviet Russia policy has to be implemented. The main effect of the USSR’s ulve over Eurasia was making a Russian language dominant in this region, changing this situation by 2025 was one of the milestones presented in the main document by Nazarbayev. The whole idea of restoring a national Kazakh diversity and tradition was directly named as creating a New Kazakhstan Patriotism. Despite the plan to adjust itself to the wide trend of globalization the government thrives in the concept of New Kazakhstan Patriotism based on non-communist origin till the present day.
Being a largest landlocked country beside Russia in what sir Halford Mackinder described as Heartland required a lot of intelligent and long distance planning, on one hand Kazakhstan was strongly connected with Russia through the seventy years of the Soviet dominance in that region, on the other, it faced being a fully independent country on the border of two pan-regions, that is, Russian and Japanese as the Haushofer presented it in his works although in the XXI century it should be called rather a China pan-region as the shift of political and cultural power occurred in this area. Putting a currently dominating political and cultural center of power aside, Kazakhstan quickly realized that isolation is not an option, just as the states in Central Europe realized full security depends on NATO and to some extent on the European Union the eastern people decided to join new international organizations of both military and civil nature such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations. Such a wide range of alliances clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Kazakh’s state is based on multilateral relations.
A quick look at the map and yet another important issue can be observed, the geographical position is crucial not only in trade but also in defence, Kazakhstan position on the map makes it buffer zone between Russia and regions which show an instability in comparison to the Kazakh’s state. Losing such a “soft underbelly” as Churchill called similar phenomena in Europe would open a way for a potentially hostile forces to both European and West Siberian Plains, such a threat combined with growing tension with NATO alliance would shake the entire Russian defensive system grounded in favourable geography which saved Soviets during World War Two when they evacuated their industry behind the immense wall of the Ural Mountains. This gives the Kazakhstan authorities a leverage on Russia as they may be crucial to many major players in the world.
With the initial success of the Bright Road strategy in the field of infrastructure and not having too much of a success in the field of export, the government in Nur-Sultan decided it will not only serve as a hub between bigger players but also it has to build its own regional power. Allowing foreign investors to enter their market resulted in taking yet another step in ensuring a growth of the Kazakh’s economy as well as its attachment to the global supply chains, a perfect example of such a cooperation occurred on March 26, 2021 when a factory of KIA was opened in Kustanay in the presence of the then Prime Minister Askar Mamin, thanks to this factory and cooperation between KIA and KAMAZ PTC the government is showing the realization of their grand strategy in practice as the increase of welfare and industrial development are considered one of the key branches of the “Kazakhstan 2050” and “Нұрлы Жол” strategies.
Encouraging big, international capital to invest in Kazakhstan was one of the steps to boost its economy, however, the government set out a special position for small and medium-sized enterprises, the strategy assumed that those will constitute 50 % of GDP till 2021, as it could be observed this part of the strategy was not achieved as planned, the increase of small and medium sized companies is visible, as it moved form 10,5 percent in 2005 to nearly 32 percent in 2019 showing that the Kazakh Government takes the realization of the Nazarbayev’ s plan with a great dose of persistence even as the pandemic continues. The recent meeting of the state Commission of Economic Growth clearly indicates that the state is going to continue the strategy to aid the native companies survive by deferring tax, bank loans and microcredits payments during the Covid 19 crisis in order to help the native economy get back on track after the virus is contained in the region.
Implemented strategy and programmes bound to carry it out were originally oriented to the east and west, nevertheless, they may not be the only directions which Nur-Sultan is having in mind, recent visit of Roman Sklyar at XVI meeting of Intergovernmental Kazakh-Tajik Commission on Economic Cooperation clearly indicated that the cooperation between Kazakhstan and its smaller neighbors is to be maintained and developed, it is obvious that in the minds of Astana’s decision makers it is their country that will play a leading role as a regional power. Going even further, Kazakhstan authorities turn their eyes into the Middle East, no strategic document concerning this vector of expansion was released, and however, the recent visit to United Arab Emirates may indicate that Kazakhstan is planning to expand in the axis south – north as well. In addition to existing geopolitical position of Kazakhstan a new potential way of advancing is likely to occupy the thoughts of politicians in the Eurasia, including Mamin’s Government, namely the Northern Sea Route which is strongly advertised by Russia, opening a new sea route is something that has not happened on such a scale since the great geographical discoveries of XV and XVI centuries. The recent incident in the Suez Canal served as a trigger to yet another wave of promoting this new, cold sea road as an ideal alternative for sea routes widely used in the XXI century.
To summarize all of the above, both the “Strategy 2050” and “Bright Road” initiative proved to be a well-designed document which evaluated the geopolitical potential properly and outlined the directions in which the new, independent Kazakhstan, should proceed in the XXI century. It cannot be denied that certain aspects of the plan were not achieved, nevertheless, the persistence combined with the ability to adjust to the dynamically changing circumstances occurring in the Eurasian space paved the way for the Kazakhstan to be a self-governed regional player which uses its geopolitical advantages in a variety of the spheres of the country’s current political existence and further development.
Winning over countries: Astana Ballet will tour in Georgia for the first time!The Astana Ballet Theatre is going on tour to Georgia. For two days, on November 14 and 15, the capital collective will present a contrasting and simultaneously exquisite program, which includes “Salome” and “A Fuego Lento” one-act ballets, as well as the “Heritage of the Great Steppe” concert program, at the Zakaria Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre in Tbilisi.“The tour in Georgia is very significant for us, it is a huge responsibility to perform on the famous stage for the first time, we want to show the high quality of ballet skills. We approached the choice of the tour program with special attention, and selected our main direction – modern and neoclassical ballet, as well as the pride of our repertoire – the national divertissement, acknowledged by the Kazakhstani and foreign audience. We hope that the creativity of the dancers and the entire theatre collective will remain in people’s hearts for a long time, and we will look forward to meeting with the audience,” said Alexandr Sovostyanov, director of the theatre.It is worth noting that today Astana Ballet is one of the leading choreographic collectives of the Republic of Kazakhstan and has thousands of admirers all over the world. The theatre conducts active touring and concert activities both in the country and abroad: its dancers performed at the most prestigious venues in Beijing and Shanghai (China), Paris (France), Vienna (Austria), Seoul (Korea), Budapest (Hungary), Baku (Azerbaijan), New York (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Warsaw (Poland), Minsk (Belarus), Brussels (Belgium), Milan (Italy), Monte Carlo (Monaco), and Dubai (UAE).On the first day, “A Fuego Lento” neoclassical ballet by Ricardo Amarante to the music of L. Schifrin, A. Piazzolla, C. Gardel, and S. Kosugi will be presented to the connoisseurs of high art. This is a liberal stretch of the choreographer’s imagination about love and desire. Each piece of the presented one-act ballet is a choreographic miniature with the elements of the most vigorous and sensual dance – tango, in which a special role is given to a virtuoso technique, genuine temper, and sincere feelings. After all, the only things that tango does not stand are dissimulation and falsehood, since there is no more reliable “lie detector” for our feelings and emotions than the embrace of a loved one...On the same day, in the second part, the audience will be presented with an amazing performance “Salome” themed on the play by Oscar Wilde to the music of Fazil Say and choreographed by the chief choreographer of the theatre Mukaram Avakhri. The biblical story in the author’s interpretation will allow the spectators to immerse themselves into the vivid world of feelings, and the complex contrasting images of the main characters will provide an opportunity for the audience to lift the veil of mystery of the human soul. The choreographer asks eternal questions about the struggle between dark and light, but leaves them unanswered, offering everyone to make a choice for themselves. The performance culminates in the dance of young Salome – an episode of extraordinary popularity thanks to artists, sculptors, and composers who captured it in their creations.On the second day, the capital collective will present the “Heritage of the Great Steppe” national divertissement staged by Honoured Figures of Kazakhstan Aigul Tati and Mukaram Avakhri. A unique collection of dance miniatures, which harmoniously combines ethnographic material and modern choreography, but simultaneously retains a sense of composition and unique originality of the national dance, is unexceptionally included in the theatre’s tour program. Aesthetics, spectacularity, and unique artistic images everlastingly sink into the heart and delight viewers around the world.The tour will take place with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Uzbekistan doubled cargo transportation through the ports of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in 2022
In January-September 2022, Uzbekistan increased cargo transportation through the ports of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan by more than two times compared to the same period in 2021 – up to 701 thousand tons. About this, with reference to the Deputy Minister of Transport of the Republic of Uzbekistan Zhasurbek Choriev, RIA Novosti reports.
"According to statistical information, in relation to the 9 months of last year, the volume of cargo transportation of Uzbekistan with the participation of the ports of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan has more than doubled this year, namely from 337 thousand tons to 701 thousand tons," Choriev said during a briefing on the eve of the summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTG). The meeting will take place in Samarkand on November 11.
Choriev recalled that at the meeting of the Ministers of Transport of the Turkic states on October 27-28 in Tashkent, a memorandum of cooperation was signed between “Uzzheldorcontainer” JSC and the ports of Aktau and Kurik in Kazakhstan. "The full–fledged activity of the project of the electronic exchange of permit forms of the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey has also been launched," the Deputy head of the Ministry of Transport said.
According to him, during the OTG summit it is planned to sign two important documents initiated by the Uzbek side: the agreement on international multimodal transport between the member states of the organization and the program of cooperation in the field of transport.
The Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (Turkic Council), established in 2009, decided to change its name to the Organization of Turkic States at the Istanbul summit in November 2021. The organization includes Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Hungary participate as observers.
October 20, the final screening of Kazakh films was held within the framework of this event
October 20, the final screening of Kazakh films was held within the framework of this event. For two days, the visitor could visit the place and see the realistic, life-like and multi-starrer films that will find great admiration and appreciation in the eyes of the world's visitors. The mentioned event, which was held for two days, made its modest contribution to the great cause of mutual understanding and friendship between Georgia and Kazakhstan.
As we know, on October 19, another significant and joyful event of cultural development was held between Georgia and Kazakhstan. Specifically - Days of Kazakh cinema in Georgia, which will last until October 20. The films shown here can clearly transform the audience into an improvised performance. It should be noted that the films shown here are quite popular in the world community. Today's event was attended by the actors themselves, who received various positive impressions from the audience's point of view.
POLITICAL CONSULTATIONS BETWEEN TURKMENISTAN AND THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN
On October 4, 2022, political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan were held in the format of a videoconference.
The Turkmen side was headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan V.Hajiyev, and the Kazakh side - by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan E.Konuspaev.
During the consultations, a constructive exchange of views on the bilateral agenda took place, the level of political and diplomatic dialogue between the two countries was considered, as well as the progress in the implementation of previously reached agreements. Noting the key role of contacts at the highest and high levels in the development of bilateral relations, the parties discussed the organization of the state visit of the President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov to the Republic of Kazakhstan.
There were also discussed aspects of preparing and holding important international events in Kazakhstan in October this year.
The importance of a significant date - the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan, celebrated on October 5, 2022, was emphasized.
A high level of interaction within the framework of international structures was noted.
The diplomats voiced the mutual readiness of the parties to continue building up regional cooperation. In this context, the special significance of the IV Consultative Meeting of the Heads of States of Central Asia in the city of Cholpan-Ata, as well as the VI Summit of the Heads of the Caspian States in Ashgabat, was stressed.
In frames of the talks, the parties paid attention to the current state and prospects for cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, noting a solid potential for joint work.
Furthermore, the parties considered issues of cultural and humanitarian cooperation. Interest was expressed in developing partnerships in the areas of science, education and healthcare.