Mercredi 21 Août 2019  
 

N°101 - Premier trimestre 2013

La lettre diplometque
  Éditorial
Kazakhstan
  Les énergies renouvelables au coeur de l’Expo 2017
 
  Un partenariat stratégique dynamique
 
  Le Groupe sénatorial d’amitié France-Asie centrale : un acteur dynamique des relations franco-kazakhstanaises
 
  Pour l’amitié entre le Kazakhstan et la France : le champ parlementaire
 
  Un partenariat économique renforcé
 
  « Nous voulons être un véritable acteur du développement économique et social du Kazakhstan »
 
  Air Liquide s’implante au Kazakhstan
 
  Une coopération étroite dans le secteur aérospatial
 
  Eurocopter conforte son partenariat industriel au Kazakhstan
 
  L’agriculture kazakhstanaise : un potentiel à exploiter
 
  Promouvoir l’image et la culture kazakhes
 
  Le Kazakhstan à la poursuite du rêve de l’ultra-modernité
 
  Mémoire du Kazakhstan
 
  Les initiatives culturelles globales du Kazakhstan en harmonie avec les valeurs de l’Unesco
 
Lituanie
Libye
Philippines
Gabon - Diploprofil©
opinion
Coopération internationale
Formation et Enseignement supérieur
 
La lettre diplometque
La lettre diplomatique Haut
     Kazakhstan
 
  S.E.M / H.E. Nourlan Danenov

Promoting peace and prosperity through innovative diplomacy

Two decades after its independence, Kazakhstan has one of the most promising economies in Central Asia. Despite having as a resource almost all the minerals on the Mendeleev’s periodic table, the country has chosen to also be present in high value added industries as aerospace and renewable energy. H.E. Nurlan Danenov, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to France, will describe President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s diplomatic initiatives which are aimed at giving Astana a central role in international affairs and will analyze the challenges to the 2050 development strategy.

 

The Diplomatic Letter: Mister Ambassador, Kazakhstan has not stopped stepping up its presence on the international scene over the past two decades, and is bidding for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. What is your view on your country’s position in the concert of nations today? 

 

H.E. Nurlan Danenov: Indeed, Kazakhstan has announced that it is applying for a seat as a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council for that period. As you know, as soon as it declared its independence, our country closed Semipalatinsk Test Site (“The Polygon”) and dismantled the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, to show the whole world that it is serious about its peace policy and its aims to build regional and global security. 

Astana is still one of the capitals that are leading and inspiring the nuclear non-proliferation movement, and an impartial approach to disarmament across the board. Kazakhstan has offered to host an international nuclear fuel bank to supply countries that need it for peaceful purposes. This could reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. 

Over the past few years, Astana and Almaty have become platforms for constructive and productive dialogue on a number of problems and challenges. I would like to remind you that our country successfully chaired the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010 and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011. Foreign policymakers often refer to our Eurasian State as a «powerhouse for regional stability”. It is at the crossroads of a splendid mosaic of civilisations, and serving as a “living bridge” between the West and East.

The fact that religious extremism is escalating in our modern world has prompted our country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev – a Head of State and policymaker who is fully aware that religion is gaining prominence in society today – to offer to host a forum for world and traditional religions in Kazakhstan’s capital. The major faiths and religions had been organising these gatherings before. What Kazakhstan’s President has in mind is genuine dialogue between world and traditional religions based on the core values they share and deep mutual understanding, in the hope that it will open up promising prospects for two-way cooperation and to help to overcome terrorism, extremism, violence, fanaticism and the other harmful manifestations we are seeing today. The goal is to promote religious dialogue, as a concept and channel to settle conflict, in order to counterbalance the methods involving violence and terror, in interfaith and interethnic relations. The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions takes place every three years (2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012). In 2013 we will be celebrating this initiative’s 10th anniversary. 

 

T.D.L.: You have just raised a very important issue, given the persistent tension between several States, especially in the Near- and Middle-East, and Asia-Pacific. Kazakhstan is pushing for nuclear disarmament via ATOM and hosted talks on Iran’s nuclear programme when they resumed in February and April 2013. What, in your view, did those exchanges between delegates from Iran and the 5+1 countries achieve? In light of your country’s experience on this front and its plans to host an AIEA-backed international uranium enrichment centre, where do you see a way out of this crisis? 

 

H.E.N.D.: Escalating tension and exacerbating conflict – especially when it comes to nuclear weapons – is not just a regional threat: it is a global threat. 

As you know, during the From Nuclear Test Ban to Nuclear Weapons-Free World International Conference on 29 August 2012 – the International Day against Nuclear Tests –, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the launch of the ATOM (for Abolish Testing: Our Mission) international project. Kazakhstan’ Head of State urged all people of good will around the world to support this project. Whoever so wishes may sign the online petition on http://theatomproject.org/en to call governments worldwide to stop nuclear tests for good and embrace the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as soon as possible.

As you have mentionned it, at the end of February and beginning of April 2013, two rounds of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme took place in Astana between delegates from the E3+3 countries (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) and Iran.

At the end of those meetings – which diplomatic circles now refer to as Almaty-1 and Almaty-2 –, the parties issued official statements about their respective assessments. The differences between those assessments notwithstanding, participants were overall optimistic about the next steps in the negotiation process. 

Settling the issue over Iran’s nuclear programme is a key issue for global stability and security. It takes a lot of time to reconcile parties’ positions when negotiations are so complex and so critical in the international community’s eyes. The decision to examine the various proposals and agreement to push ahead with the negotiation process were two of the positive outcomes in Almaty.

The Republic of Kazakhstan was not a party to those negotiations or directly involved in them. But our country is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with pushing for nuclear non-proliferation, and willing to do everything within its power to diplomatically settle the issues revolving around Iran’s nuclear programme, for the sake of stability and security in the region and around the world. We also received and much appreciated the thanks and praise for organising the talks from all the delegations that had taken part. 

 

T.D.L.: Uzbekistan withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in 2012. Where can you see regional consensus on security issues heading next? How can cooperation between Astana and Tashkent deepen beyond their shared views on water resource management in Central Asia? 

 

H.E.N.D.: We all know that the international community’s concerted effort is the only option to defuse threats and tackle challenges today – including the propagation of terrorism and extremism we mentioned earlier. No national or even regional organisation can effectively address threats that have no country borders or identity, single-handedly. We are aware of that in Kazakhstan. That is why we are actively cooperating with several international organisations that are fighting terrorism, starting with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), CSTO and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). These organisations are also working hand in hand with each other (exchanging information, sharing feedback and building consensus). The SCO and CIS also have their own specialist antiterrorist centres. 

There are initiatives to strengthen the CSTO’s antiterrorist muscle. One key step in that direction was the Collective Rapid Reaction Force, which encompasses constantly alert forces and resources from the Organisation’s collective security system. Their mandate covers providing military security as well as taking part in operations to foil international terrorism. The CSTO has drawn up a list of the organisations deemed terrorist and extremist in its member countries. Relevant organisations are advised to take this list into account if they take part in the fight against terrorism and extremism, and to exchange information on issues that touch on mutual interests. The struggle against terrorism, separatism and extremism has been and will remain the SCO’s main goal. A series of founding documents to that end have been adopted within this Group. The SCO Member-State cooperation programme to curb terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2013-2015 kicked off at that Organisation’s 12th Summit, in Beijing, in June 2012. 

The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), which was established in 2002 and is headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is one of the kingpins in efforts to enhance cooperation and interaction among SCO Member State bodies in charge of eradicating these “three evils”. 

Regarding your second question, I would like first to underline that Kazakhstan considers Uzbekistan an important strategic partner in Central Asia. The entire region’s economic development, and Central Asia’s security and stability, hinge heavily on close ties between Astana and Tashkent.

We are actively developing trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian relations between our two countries. Uzbekistan is more than a neighbouring country with similar culture and traditions: it is one of our key political and economic partners in the CIS. 

We support Tashkent’s efforts to cement stability and security in the region, and we have said we are ready to join forces with all Central Asian countries to take on challenges and threats jeopardising security. 

One of the top priorities on our bilateral-relations agendas is to build consensus and settle disagreements over using the region’s water resources together. Experience these past few years has shown that dragging feet instead of mending differences over water and energy is short-sighted and futile. The heightened risk of seeing disputes over water and energy resources escalating into conflicts in Central Asia means we need to find down-to-earth bilateral and then multilateral agreements in order to create an efficient mechanism to harness trans-boundary rivers in a sensible and mutually acceptable manner.

 

T.D.L.: Kazakhstan has pledged to support the transition strategy leading to NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan looking at 2014. Besides providing logistic backup for withdrawal operations, how will Kazakhstan be helping to rebuild Afghanistan?

 

H.E.N.D.: Kazakhstan is keen on seeing Afghanistan develop stably and sustainably. We consider that the international community and the UN need to play a more active role in efforts to settle this hard-hit State’s politics and rebuild its economy, hand in hand with the Afghan Government. Kazakhstan agrees with people who believe it is up to authorities in Kabul to assume the bulk of the responsibility for reform and for using external financial assistance smartly, under strict international community supervision. How the situation in Afghanistan evolves further down the road will depend on the extent to which that country’s most important stakeholders contribute to rebuilding their country.

Back in 2001, when he addressed the accredited diplomatic corps in Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev made a case for settling the issues in Afghanistan peacefully, and added that a coalition of States fighting against international terrorism alongside the international community should fight the causes of terrorism rather than just its consequences. As our President rightly said, an entire generation has grown up in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Those young people have seen nothing but war and narcotic plantations all their lives. They have no education or civilian occupations. That is why this country needs to rebuild its economy, needs a new generation of specialists, and needs a UN-backed coalition government. 

Kazakhstan is still supporting Afghanistan every way it can. We have agreed to train 1,000 Afghan students in our universities, we are sending humanitarian aid, and we are building areas for socialising. We are principally supplying flour, vegetable oil and other food, and importing fruit and building marble.

The Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC) has only been up and running for a few years but it has already run a considerable number of operations and is prominently supporting efforts to stem the drug trade. 

Many States around the world are concerned about plans to withdraw the international coalition’s force from Afghanistan in 2014 and about what will happen there afterwards. That was one of the main issues at the Ministerial Conference on the Istanbul Process in Almaty on 26 April last. 

Kazakhstan’ borders are much closer to this unstable area than those of our western partners. We are very worried about ongoing terrorist and extremist activity in Central Asia only months before International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contingents pull out. 

Cooperation between the Republic of Kazakhstan and NATO, it is important to point out, is based on the Partnership for Peace (PfP) framework document signed in 1994. Kazakhstan’s top priority as regards cooperation with NATO is to train peacekeeping units with a view to establishing operational compatibility. In practice, this involves building national peacekeeping capabilities, taking part in joint exercises, and pooling experience planning, running and backing up every aspect of peacekeeping operations.

Kazakhstan is keen on operations involving NATO’s latest programmes and cutting-edge experience, which will strengthen our national defence and security potential and deal with challenges and threats undermining regional stability.

But we are not only interacting with the Alliance on the military front and by teaming up with ISAF. We are also working together on scientific programmes and civil emergency planning.

I would like to point out that military interaction is also one of the Kazakh-French strategic partnership’s key components. In 2009, our two countries signed an intergovernmental agreement on military equipment and personnel in transit via the Republic of Kazakhstan, for the French armed forces’ involvement in efforts to stabilise and rebuild the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The agreement amending and completing it, which was signed last year, provides that the French Republic’s armed forces’ equipment will travel through the city of Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan.

Leading French companies providing new technology have become quite actively and organically involved in efforts to develop Kazakhstan’s military and industrial complex, and a series of joint projects are unrolling successfully as we speak. 

T.D.L.: The G-Global initiative that Kazakhstan kicked off in February 2012 to find a way out of the financial crisis illustrates its foreign policy’s trailblazing drive. What has that initiative achieved, a year down the road? Your country suggested a Muslim G10 when it was chairing the OIC in 2011-2012, so what will it have to say about international economic governance reform at the upcoming G20 Summit it has been invited to attend with Russia? 

 

H.E.N.D.: On 15 December 2011, during his address at the solemn event commemorating the 20th anniversary of Independence, President Nursultan Nazarbayev tendered a new template for multilateral interaction for interested countries, international organisations, expert circles and the international community, based on the Astana Economic Forum. That template is called G-Global, and it is an electronic Bretton Woods of sorts. 

G-Global is a multifunctional platform that provides the environment that the international expert community needs to exchange interactively, openly and publicly on the global economy. Its main focus areas are:

- Economic stabilisation and structural reform as the basis for economic growth and jobs;

- Strengthening the financial system and financial integration to fuel economic growth;

- Improving international financial architecture amid globalisation;

- Enhancing food-supply security and mitigating food-price volatility;

- Supporting sustainable development and green growth, and curbing climate change.

In January 2012, the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists on-lined a smart network resembling the G-Global internet communication platform on http://groupglobal.org. So far, it has attracted over 1,000,000 visitors, and more than 30,000 users in 150 countries are now contributing on a permanent basis. It has 21,000 registered users and 7,200 visitors per day. 

In May 2012, more than 40 leading schools of economics around the world joined the G-Global communication platform, contributing over 20,000 expert papers, books, debates and projects, which in turn attracted more than 115,000 user comments. 

The best suggestions made it into the Astana Economic Forum’s Open Letter for G20 Countries’ Governments, which was sent to the G20 Presidency in Mexico in 2012. It included views from experts, lecturers and young scientists in 40 countries. More than 70 recommendations were sent by delegates from various continents (in the US, Argentina, Belgium, Spain, Estonia, Hungary, the UK, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Singapore, etc.), from international organisations, and from leading business schools including the West-Ost Institute of Berlin, Club of Madrid, New Bretton-Woods Committee, Cambridge University, Yale University, ISC Intelligence in Science, International Union of Economists, Saint Stephen University in Hungary, and others. 

The World Anti-Crisis Conference will be held during the Sixth Astana Economic Forum, which will take place from 22 to 27 May this year under the UN’s aegis. An Open Letter for G20 Countries’ Governments will be drafted based on those organisations’ discussions.

Kazakhstan has been officially invited to the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg this September. We are preparing the initiatives we want to table for the countries in this club. Our Head of State’s ideas cover the thorniest of the issues that trigged the world economy’s imbalance, and which the media have since covered extensively. Another important aspect is that there are no alternatives to the integration process in the pipeline, in Eurasia and indeed around the planet. 

 

T.D.L.: During its presidency of the OCI in 2011-2012, Kazakhstan announced its project to set up KAZAID to channel development assistance. How would you like to see cooperation between emerging economies and developing countries intensify?

 

H.E.N.D.: I would like first to remind you that our State is taking part in UN-sponsored international projects to fuel development with voluntary donations and by contributing to trust funds tackling specific issues touching on the environment, the population’s needs, healthcare, women’s rights, landlocked countries, stemming the drug trade and so forth. Most of Kazakhstan’s financial, humanitarian and other aid is going to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Palestine, Somalia and other OCI Member States.

In 2011, it contributed in excess of US$ 2 million. In 2012, our Republic’s voluntary contributions earmarked for development assistance via international organisations added up to over US$ 2.5 million. In total, Kazakhstan has channelled almost US$ 100 million into humanitarian and development assistance. 

During its term chairing the OIC, Kazakhstan offered to create KazAID, a development assistance and technical support agency. Its main goals are to: 

- Help to eradicate poverty and nurture sustainable economic development ;

- Build trade and economic cooperation with donor countries, integrating national markets.

 

T.D.L.: Even though Kazakhstan’s economy still relies heavily on hydrocarbons, the theme at Expo 2017 will be “Future energy”, meaning “Green energy”. That says something about your country’s development goals. Tell me about potential for renewable energies in Kazakhstan and what you are planning to do to harness it. 

 

H.E.N.D.: When we talk about global security, we mustn’t lose sight of energy security. There is a lot of debate about this issue in international circles today. Many countries on every continent are facing this problem and thinking about what they need to secure their energy supplies and national economies’ sustainable development. That is precisely why Kazakhstan suggested “Future energy” as the theme for Expo 2017. We wanted to tell the international community about the substance and aims underlying our national project, and did so in 2012 in the special edition of your La Lettre Diplomatique. And we would like to thank you for your trusting cooperation. 

The Republic of Kazakhstan has extensive potential on the renewable energy front. It is a vast country, it is sunny many days a year, wind is abundant and hydraulic resources are ample. So Kazakhstan has a wide variety of options to harness renewable energy, and to supply its people and fuel its economy with clean power.

Our country’s President set a target for alternative and renewable energy development under our Green Economy initiative: by 2050, those sources will need to cover at least half of Kazakhstan’s overall energy consumption. 

Last January, the Government adopted an action plan involving a series of measures to develop alternative and renewable energies over 2013-2020. By 2020, the goal is to operate renewable capacity to generate 1040 MW, including 13 wind farms, 14 hydropower plants and 4 solar power plants. 

Monitoring data shows that power production in renewable facilities is growing every year: for example, those facilities generated 450 million kWh in 2012, i.e. 6% more than in 2011. 

No fewer than 25 renewable plants, including the ones in Bolotov, Rojdestvenskaya and the rooftop solar panels at the Eurasian National University, have been built in our Republic to date, and five small hydropower plants, generating approximately 20 MW in total, are now running on mountain rivers in Almaty Province. 

We will be completing 12 other projects, including a wind farm, a solar power plant and four hydropower plants, in 2013.

We are also building a series of projects, including the first windmill tranche in Ereymentaou, which will generate 45 MW and put our country’s total wind farm capacity at 300 MW, this year. This farm will power Expo 2017.

Several renewable projects will be included in our country’s industrial development map and use the world’s latest technology breakthroughs. 

 

T.D.L.: What are you expecting from Expo 2017?

 

H.E.N.D.: The landslide in Paris on 22 November 2012 shows that the international community has realised that we are making progress. It is the first time such a prominent event will take place in a CIS country and among our southern neighbours.

By voting for Astana, the international community has granted us an enviable opportunity and we have a duty to use that opportunity as productively as possible. We have taken on a big responsibility and will do everything we need to do to make sure this event is an unqualified success. Kazakhstan has been actively deve-loping partnerships with neighbouring countries and the western world for a long time. Our foreign policy’s main forte has always been its multi-vector approach. We hope that involving all Bureau of International Expositions member countries in Expo 2017 and in the ramp-up will stretch our cooperation to new geographies in fast-growing continents, i.e. Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

The ripple effects from an exhibition in that league will not only benefit the big business players: they will also profit sectors that are playing significant roles fuelling our capital’s development, i.e. the tourist, hospitality, service and transport (including ecologically clean transport) sectors, and a variety of SMEs. 

This exhibition will be a national project. So it will need to have a powerful multiplier effect across our country and the region as a whole. We are expecting substantial investment to develop infrastructure. We will be building the Smart City, a cluster of polyvalent halls and buildings, in Astana. It will be in a rapidly-developing district in the capital, near Nazarbayev University, to interlink technology, science and research. After Expo 2017, those facilities will blend into the capital’s urban infrastructure (as they did in Paris, for example). Most of the buildings are designed for long-term use. 

 

T.D.L.: What are the next steps on the Green Bridge partnership initiative that Kazakhstan tabled at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012?

 

H.E.N.D.: Kazakhstan was actively involved in the June 2012 Rio Conference agenda. It for instance triggered initiatives to discuss and adopt the Global Eco-Energy Strategy and the Interregional Partnership Programme between Europe and Asia – the Green Bridge –, which is the first concrete step towards implementation. 

The substance of these proposals, which President Nursultan Nazarbayev monitored closely, is essentially geared towards optimally meeting requirements for energy resources and other natural resources in every country around the world by the middle of the 21st century. 

The Green Bridge programme’s objectives involve: 

- Building national, regional and interregional stewardship;

- Creating information infrastructure to support the partnership and education;

- Promoting green technologies and endeavours, by circulating available information about best practices and examples of support for green activities;

- Setting up financial and economic mechanisms to support the green economy;

- Establishing standards for the green economy.

The Green Bridge is a hands-on mechanism to channel the international transition towards a green economy by stimulating technological progress, advancing environmental management and improving the legal, economic and institutional environment. All that will build the momentum that a new clean industry needs to develop. 

Starting in 2020, the goal is to set aside carbon primary energy sources for future generations by using renewable energies. By 2050, the goal is to halve the amount of energy consumed per gross worldwide product (GWP) unit and provide the conditions to maintain that energy intensity indicator at that level. 

Central Asia is already facing a number of environmental challenges, including water resource shortages and energy inefficiency. The maths shows that the green economy can open the door for Kazakhstan to improve its energy efficiency by 40 to 60%, cut water resource consumption by 50% and slash industrial consumption by 30 billion tonnes. At the same time, the government is looking at exciting opportunities in the green industry, spanning organic farming, eco-tourism, renewable energy, and developing a fish-farming industry that will generate US$ 1 billion a year. 

 

T.D.L.: President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Vladimir Putin spoke of plans to sign a new Friendship and Cooperation Treaty this autumn, when they were in Moscow on 8 February 2013 discussing Kazakhstan’ and Russia’s Joint Action plan. How is the strategic partnership between your two countries going to evolve down the road? How is dialogue about Baikonur Cosmodrome between Kazakhstan and Russia coming together? 

 

H.E.N.D.: Our Head of State ranked relations with the Russian Federation at the top of our foreign-policy agenda very shortly after our country’s independence. President Nursultan Nazarbayev confirmed that in his Address to the People of Kazakhstan in December 2012, and is happy to see that Moscow sees Astana as one of its key partners. 

Last year, Kazakhstan and Russia solemnly celebrated the 20th anniversary of their diplomatic relations and the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. Both our countries look back on those two decades as an historical period marked by radical changes cutting across the economy, politics and social awareness. The Declaration on Everlasting Friendship and Alliance for the 21st Century that these two countries have signed sets the tone for relations between Kazakhstan and Russia for years to come. 

We are also working together on a new founding document: a Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Alliance Cooperation that will establish a new framework for our close ties and interaction, in light of realities in the 21st century. This document will cover all the key guidelines shaping our bilateral partnership in all the existing founding documents. 

Kazakhstan’s stand regarding Baikonur Cosmodrome has not changed. The outcome of the top-level exchanges at CSTO and Eurasian Economic Community meetings, and at the Eurasian Economic Commission meeting in Moscow on 19 December 2012, show that Nouroustlan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin fully understand the importance of keeping Baikonur as one of the symbols of our bilateral cooperation’s success. 

Kazakhstan is planning to become more involved in space-related projects at Baikonur Cosmodrome and to enhance the quality of its own space capacity – and it is planning to do both side by side with Russia, not at its expense. It would be ingenuous and irrational for us to miss out on the opportunity to work hand in hand with a world-class space power such as Russia – and even more so on our soil. That is why we want to harness the full potential there to fuel Kazakhstan’s economy. The two Heads of State have asked their space agencies to draft a comprehensive bilateral agreement to lay down the rules for using the Cosmodrome together, tap into its scientific and technical potential, build shared missile complexes, and train Kazakhstani managers. The goal is more productive cooperation for both sides. 

 

T.D.L.: Your country opened a Customs Union with Russia and Belarus on 6 July 2012, and is keen on ratifying the CIS Free Trade Agreement. What advantages are you expecting to derive from that economic integration process? What hurdles do you still need to negotiate on the road to the Eurasian Economic Union and Common Economic Space looking at 2015?

 

H.E.N.D.: As you know, the integration process within the CIS is moving forward. In October 2011, the Heads of State of eight of the eleven CIS countries signed a free-trade agreement (CISFTA). This agreement will entail cancelling import and export duties on a large range of goods. This agreement also states “exclusions”, i.e. a list of goods that do not qualify for agreement terms. Experts, however, concur that this fundamental agreement will provide the basis for trade and economic relations between our countries. 

Today, six of the eight countries that signed CISFTA had ratified it. They are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Russia and Ukraine. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have not yet completed the ratification process, but analysts expect them to do so in mid- 2013, and the Treaty will take effect at that point.

In September 2003, the Presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement to create a Common Economic Space (CES) in order to further economic and political integration. 

In 2006, the decision was made to push ahead with the Customs Union based on the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec), in light of developments on the CES front. The Customs Union has been up and running since 1 July 2010 and the figures these first few years show that this Union makes sense because trade between the countries in it has increased substantially. At the same time, certain important aspects of the Union have not yet been settled: energy resources and other important issues have remained outside its scope. 

It is important to point out that concessions or subsidies are invariably positive from a strategic perspective and negative from a tactical angle. The lack of experience with the new steps towards economic integration among these countries can also be a problem on the road to the CES. There are huge disparities between economic and social development standards in the Customs Union’s Member States, and questions about establishing a CES have not yet been answered. 

The fact that a supranational body, the Customs Union Commission, has been running the Eurasec Customs Union since 1 January 2010 is particularly encouraging. Until then, efforts to establish supranational bodies in the post-Soviet area had proven unfeasible. 

 

T.D.L.: On 14 December 2012, Kazakhstan’s Head of State presented his 2050 Strategy to rank you country among the world’s 30 most developed nations. Besides the decentralisation law that should be in force this summer and opening the National Development Agency, what new measures is he planning to take on the economic governance front and what specific measures are in the pipeline to promote entrepreneurship? 

 

H.E.N.D.: Our country’s robust economic growth is bringing new challenges. These include further streamlining industrial policy, supporting efforts to modernise production technology, and accelerating innovation implementation. Many of these concerns gravitate around aims to improve economic competitiveness by providing the additional conditions that investment needs to thrive, because past experience did not deliver the expected results. This spans a wide variety of issues, ranging from energy efficiency to labour productivity and on to infrastructure and regional development. 

In January 2013, the Head of State kicked off plans to establish the National Development Agency to take in all the State-run development and financial organisations. One of the reasons that led to that decision is the plan to improve the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund’s efficiency. The new agency will first of all funnel long-term investment in areas and sectors that private banks and financial institutions are reluctant to move into or cannot per-se. 

This February, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan drafted a bill to streamline development organisations, financial bodies and economic expansion agencies. That bill states exactly what the future organisation will be called: the National Management Holding and “National Development Agency”. Its main task will be to manage its stakes in public development organisations, public companies and other legal entities it owns or has been entrusted with managing. The list of companies is being drafted as we speak. Most of them will probably be transferred to the Samruk-Kazyna Fund as non-strategic assets. Establishing a single development agency will put us in a position to modernise Kazakhstan’s economy more efficiently, and use financial resources more transparently to take trailblazing measures to spur our country’s economic growth.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan has asked the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund to transfer non-commercial development organisations to the National Development Agency. But that does not mean that the goal is to disband Samruk-Kazyna.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell La Lettre Diplomatique readers who are interested in Kazakhstan’s development prospects that they can read all about the 2050 Strategy in French on our Embassy website, www.amb-kazakhstan.fr.

 

L.L.D.: Harnessing natural resources is still attracting about two-thirds of investment, but your Government ranks diversifying
Kazakhstan’s economy at the top of its list of priorities. What key projects is Samruk-Kazyna funding to accelerate your country’s industrial development in other sectors? What is it doing to promote technology transfer? Looking at the bigger picture in general and at the vast transport corridor between Western Europe and Western China in particular, where are large-scale infrastructure projects opening up opportunities for foreign countries? 

 

H.E.N.D. : Building the first integrated petrochemical complex in Atyrau Province (Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries Inc.), Kazakhstan Electrolysis Plant, and Atyrau Petroleum Refinery are a few of the largest industrial projects that the Kazakhstan Development Bank (a Samruk-Kazyna division) is financing. The National Agency for Technological Development was established specifically to support technology transfer and has a substantial resource base to do so. It is cooperating fruitfully with the Franco-Kazakhstan Centre for Technology Transfer. Setting up photovoltaic production capacity in Kazakhstan is one of the most important projects. This involves a new process to manufacture high-quality photovoltaic panels using Kazakhstani crystalline silicon that was fine-tuned with French public-sector labs. This project was also financed by Kazatomprom, a public company (and Samruk-Kazyna division).

One of the President of Kazakhstan’s main goals is to make the most of our country’s transit potential by building it into a top-tier logistics centre and creating powerful transport hubs. Our country will be investing over US$ 20 billion in road infrastructure alone through the end of 2015, and the bulk of that will go to the Western Europe-Western China project. This year, the plan is to start using 806 kilometres of that motorway, which will be more than 2,000 kilometres long. Building and using this new corridor will solve a number of big problems and give Kazakhstan an additional competitive advantage. Trucks form China will reach Western European cities in 10 days, instead of 45 days by sea and up to 14 days by rail – not counting loading and unloading operations, which also dent profits. More than 80% of the goods in the EU travel by truck, and they will be able to reach China’s large cities in 10 days starting in 2015. This is opening up very exciting prospects for transport and logistics companies, and for companies servicing trucks and catering to passengers along this new transport corridor. 

 

T.D.L.: Following President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s official visit to France on 22 November 2012, French Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Laurent Fabius was in Astana with executives from leading French companies on 1 March 2013. How do you explain the buoyant business relations between France and Kazakhstan, and what sectors will it be diversifying into next? 

 

H.E.N.D.: I would also like to mention another top-level exchange and milestone in our relations: Mr Asset Issekeshev, Kazakhstan’s Vice-President and Minister of Industry and New Technologies, visited France on 6 and 7 March 2013. He jointly presides over the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation between France and Kazakhstan, and co-chaired that Commission’s 10th meeting with French Foreign Trade Minister Ms Nicole Bricq on 7 March. 

The past few years have indeed seen bilateral dialogue solidify and gain considerable momentum. We exchange on a regular basis at every State level. The top-level agreements we have signed are rolling out step by step. The strategic partnership with France that our Head of State introduced is stretching to encompass new shared industrial projects, new technology and expertise transfers, new large-scale direct investment, and more training for qualified Kazakhstani specialists, every year. 

In 2012 alone, three large French-Kazakh plants were commissioned to assemble helicopters, electric locomotives and photovoltaic panels. 

Cooperation between France and Kazakhstan has grown into an entirely new dimension. We are seeing a “second wave” of industrial and technological partnerships, which is attracting large, medium and small businesses, regional economic agencies, and development agencies. 

I assume that our French partners’ growing interest in Kazakhstan’s economy and their keen understanding of top-priority industrial and technological cooperation reflect President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s and the Kazakhstan Government’s consistent and methodical industrial innovation policy. A large number of prominent French investors have said that they view our Head of State as the main reason for optimism regarding Kazakhstan’s stability, determination to honour its agreements and further our country’s modernisation strategy. 

We have plans to further improve the quality of bilateral relations. This includes the French season in Kazakhstan and Kazakh season in France in 2013 and 2014. Our job is to open a French École des Mines branch in Astana, start direct flights between Astana and Paris, fully involve France in Expo 2017 and the demonstration on the Third Industrial Revolution’s breakthroughs, and compellingly showcase further potential for both our countries in agriculture and other sectors.

We are also working on extending cooperation into regional spheres, and integrating French regions’ competitive advantages – from economic, political, cultural and human perspectives – into the ‘circuit’. For example, we are building a joint plant to manufacture high-tech titanium products in Auvergne. Some large companies in the Rhône-Alpes region are planning to transfer experience and knowledge to Kazakhstan with a view to developing winter sports and tourism. One of Europe’s largest technology parks, in Southern France, is preparing to sponsor a technology park in Kazakhstan. There are also plans to extend city twinning between our two countries. Lorraine – the Vosges Department in particular – is especially keen on cooperating with Kazakhstan. The French-Kazakh GeoEnergy centre, which specialises in traditional and alternative energy research, was established in Almaty by Université de Lorraine, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and Satpaev Kazakh National Technical University in 2010 and has been operating successfully since. 

Lastly, I would like to point out that the key factor that will steer our bilateral relations to their future success is loyalty on the part of our French friends and supporters in the French Administration, Parliament, regions, business world, and academic and cultural circles.  

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