2017 was a significant year for Kazakhstan marked by a number of events of seminal importance for the development of country. The President His Excellency Mr.Nursultan Nazarbayev set in motion a large-scale political reform pursuing a substantial redistribution of powers from the executive to the legislative branch.
In his annual address to the nation, my President also announced five main priorities of Kazakhstan’s third stage of modernization aimed at ensuring a new model of economic growth and the country’s global competitiveness.
Another important program started this year is the State Strategy for spiritual renewal (“Ruhani Jangiru”) with one of its results being the switch to Latin alphabet to facilitate Kazakhstan’s development.
“ASTANA EXPO-2017” international exposition under the title “Future Energy” was one of the year’s most important events highlighting achievements of 115 countries and 22 international organizations in the sphere of sustainable energy and reduction of humanity’s impact on the environment. More than 3 million people visited the exposition. Romania took an active part in “EXPO-2017” in Astana, presenting there a unique project – a laser from Magurele, which was among the top five most interesting exhibits selected by the exhibitors.
In 2017 Kazakhstan started its membership in the United Nations Security Council contributing to the deliberations, discussions and solution of the most important issues of the global agenda. Our country chairs UNSC committees 1988 (Taliban) and 1267 (ISIL) while making important contributions to many other key topics that come to the attention of the Security Council. In January 2018, Kazakhstan will chair the UNSC, calling attention of all UN member-states to the construction of a world free of conflicts and weapons of mass destruction.
Apart from the EXPO, in 2017 Astana hosted a number of high-profile international events including several rounds of talks focused on ending the Syrian civil war through a gradual build-up of safe zones across the war-torn country. Astana peace process made it possible to stop hostilities, bring to the negotiation table representatives of the Syrian government and opposition forces and boost the broad UN-backed political negotiations in Geneva.
On January 1, 2018 Astana International Financial Centre will start operating which will turn the capital of Kazakhstan into an international business hub. This is especially important as in 2018 we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Astana which embodies the socio-economic and political success of Kazakhstan during the years of independence.
Kazakhstan’s economy continues to develop dynamically having attracted 250 billion US dollars over the last 12 years. The already mentioned Third modernization program focuses on five top-priority areas: accelerated technological modernization, improvement of the business environment, macroeconomic stability, ensuring productive employment and improving the quality of the human capital.
Our country remains high up in the international ratings. In the World Bank’s 2017-2018 Doing Business rating Kazakhstan is 36th among 190 countries. The Government continues to implement a number of important industrial development programs and improves the investment climate harmonizing it with OECD and other international standards.
This year, we celebrate 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Romania. I would like to note that Romania was one of the first countries which recognized Kazakhstan’s independence.
During this short historical period, our states have achieved significant progress in all fields, including political, trade and economy, cultural and humanitarian areas, as well as multilateral collaboration.
Kazakhstan and Romania enjoy regular political dialogue; friendship groups are active in the parliaments of both countries. There is also a close coordination of our efforts in the United Nations and other international fora. Moreover, Astana and Bucharest are willing to promote each other’s interests in their respective regions. Political consultations at the level of ministries of foreign affairs, meetings of intergovernmental commissions on trade and science are held on an annual basis.
In July, 2017 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania H.E. Mr. Teodor Melescanu visited Kazakhstan. The visit was of historical importance for the bilateral cooperation as the head of Romanian diplomacy met the Prime – Minister, his Kazakh counterpart and key members of the Parliament, and visited the Karaganda region for talks with the Romanian diaspora.
The favorable background of the political dialogue between our countries has a positive impact on the bilateral economic cooperation. Kazakhstan and Romania have developed strong cooperation in the trade and economic dimension showcased by the growing commercial turnover. In the first 7 months of 2017 goods turnover between our countries amounted to 567 million US dollars, which is 53% more than in the same period of 2016.
We consider Romania as a key partner in Eastern Europe and on the Balkans. Kazakhstan is extremely interested in using its transit potential to facilitate freight traffic between Asia and Europe along the route “Western Europe – Western China”, “Black Sea-Caucasus-Caspian Sea”. In our opinion, Romania, being the “southern gateway” of the European Union, can occupy an important place in the implementation of Kazakhstan’s long-term plans.
We regard Romania as a “regional center” for the export of Kazakhstani oil, as evidenced by the fruitful activity of KazMunaiGas International, which has made a significant contribution to strengthening the energy security of Romania.
At the same time, we need to diversify economic relations to include other areas of interest for Kazakhstan and Romania – information technology, agriculture, tourism, research and innovation, and cultural cooperation, which could lead to a widening of our relationship not only in the economic sector but also in other areas.
For this purpose, we pay great attention to the sphere of education. At the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the level of the universities, we have mobility programs that allow us to fund the presence of professors and students from one university to another. Thanks to diplomatic efforts, a lecturer’s office on Romanian Language, Culture and Civilisation has opened at the State University of Karaganda, being the only one of its kind in Central Asia.
December is a special month for our countries as Romania celebrates its National Day on December, 1 while Kazakhstan’s Independence Day is celebrated on December, 16.
Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to congratulate all of us on these important dates. I am confident that friendly and mutually beneficial relations between Kazakhstan and Romania will continue to grow strong in the coming years.