France, Kazakhstan committed to boosting cooperation in education, innovation, envoy says

ASTANA – To mark the 25 years of diplomatic relations and 10 years of strategic partnership reaching a milestone in June, Kazakhstan and France are seeking to expand existing affiliations with new ones on the horizon. Education and innovation are among key areas, according to French Ambassador to Kazakhstan Philippe Martinet.

French Ambassador to Kazakhstan Philippe Martinet.

Of the 310,000 foreign students studying in France, only approximately 600 are Kazakh.

“Education is very important to us,” he said in a recent interview with The Astana Times.

“Starting this year, we have been working with the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) chain and we are almost about to complete the selection of students for preparatory classes in France. These (preparatory classes) are not like in Kazakhstan. This is called classes préparatoires in French (Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles),” he added.

Although only six Kazakh students will be selected this year to participate in the project, it is an opportunity to immerse in one of the most competitive environments, as the workload in such schools is considered among the world’s highest. NIS, among the top schools in Kazakhstan, are also part of the project.

“In France, we have been in talks with the Ministry of Education over the past several months to reward learning the French language, because the situation is not very good in Kazakhstan in terms of this. There is an agreement to support French language teaching in up to 100 schools across Kazakhstan,” said Martinet.

The number of French language teachers in Kazakhstan, he noted, is down from 1,000 ten years ago to the current 250. As part of the agreement with NIS that have French classes, the schools will welcome French interns as teachers.

The two governments are committed to building new educational partnerships. The agreement endorsing the new Abai Verne scholarship programme was signed April 19 by the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

“Ninety scholarships will be allocated for master students and 10 for doctoral students. The programme welcomes everyone regardless of major. We very much hope to encourage all to start learning the French language, because one needs a concrete reason and motive to learn French,” he said.

Graduate students will be trained for 10 months from September through June, while doctoral students will have a three-year programme with six months – September to February – spent in French universities each year.

“Our goal is to have people in Kazakhstan who know France and the French language and are willing to develop ties and help all who want to do new projects between our countries,” he noted.

The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan University campus in Almaty is another important educational project between the countries.

“The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan University needs to be reviewed. We would like the research component to be stronger and students to study the French language more, which is not the case now. So, we are in the process of reviewing the university, what is good and what is not,” he said.

Innovation, too,  has been a “big priority for the French government.”

“We can assist in creating an ecosystem for innovations. We already see the results. The policy did not start yesterday, but 10 years ago with different instruments. We have a lot of start-ups proposing interesting innovations, especially on climate change,” he said.

Kazakh students in the field will also be eligible for the Make Our Planet Great Again programme, said Martinet. French President Emmanuel Macron announced the programme last year to invite U.S. researchers and scientists to work in France following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Currently, a new type of industry for sustainable development and reversing climate change is on the agenda. In this area, we soon want to propose around 10 new grants that will be focused on teaching all environmental disciplines. This is a very broad range,” said Martinet.

“Aside from grants to attract American scientists to France when the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement, Kazakhstan will be the first country to have such a grant programme for masters,” he added.

Kazakhstan lacks experts in the field, a critical factor amidst the growing importance of the climate change issue and signs of climate change worldwide.

“The winter in Kazakhstan and Europe was very unusual this year and the reasons are known. We know this is due to the [situation on the North] Pole and movement of air masses, which is not normal. This is a symptom of climate change. That blizzard in Astana last January is a beginning. The key issue is how to adapt and faster minimise the impact of everything we do so that it will not get worse,” he noted.

Martinet indicated the political climate is very good.

“The understanding of international systems for France and Kazakhstan are almost similar,” he said.

Economic cooperation, however, reached a “certain plateau,” he added. Though the trade turnover totalled $3.3 billion in 2017, growing 38.5 percent within a year, there is a significant imbalance.

“We need to highlight that we are not satisfied with our trade indicators, because we have a huge imbalance. The situation, however, is not getting better; on the opposite, it is getting worse. This is why we really want for joint enterprises like Eurocopter, Galam and Kazakhstan Engineering to receive more contracts to boost development. This will be important to develop our relations,” said Martinet.

France is the third largest investor in Kazakhstan with the volume of investments reaching $13 billion. French companies remain steadfast in their willingness to invest in the nation’s economy, but doing so is not that simple.

“As in the past, there are French companies that are willing to invest in Kazakhstan. If we look at foreign rankings, the country is in a quite good position. In the Doing Business report, Kazakhstan ranks 36th. There are formal classifications, but there is also a reality and in reality, doing business in Kazakhstan is not always easy and simple,” he noted.

Approximately 130 companies with French capital work in Kazakhstan. The enterprises include the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) that built the Galam joint venture complex to assemble and test spacecraft in 2010; Eurocopter; Total, involved in developing Kashagan, Kazakhstan’s largest offshore oil field in the Caspian Sea; Alstom; Thales Group and KATCO, created by Kazatomprom and the French Areva group to mine uranium deposits. Areva has been regorganised and rebranded Orano earlier this year.

Since he arrived in Kazakhstan last October, Martinet had a chance to travel to other Kazakh cities: Kostanai, Semey, Uralsk, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Oskemen, Karaganda, Zharkent and Khorgos.

“Calling Kazakhstan a Central Asian country is not the most correct thing, in fact. There are people of different backgrounds with different roots – Ukrainian, Caucasian, Korean. There is such a mix of cultures,” the ambassador said.

Kazakhstan is an “unknown land” for the majority of French people, he added. In contrast to its neighbours, the nomadic past of the Kazakh people left very few historic and cultural artefacts. It is a country with so many beautiful places that remains to be discovered by the French: high mountains in the east – Martinet has trekked up to the top of Mount Kumbel, toured  mysterious korgans in Taldykorgan, a mosque in the Chinese Buddhist style in Zharkent, Russian style streets in Uralsk, the fortress of Akyrtas, the tombs of the great ancestors and mystics in Turkestan and Taraz.

“When thinking of visiting Central Asia, the French would think of Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan,” he said. “They should think Kazakhstan.”






Israeli-Kazakh economic cooperation can be expanded, says Israeli official

ASTANA – April 10 marked the 26th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Kazakhstan and Israel. Bilateral relations have been friendly and fruitful; however, economic cooperation can be expanded, said Deputy Director General and Head of the Euro-Asian Division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Ben-Zvi during his recent visit to Kazakhstan.

Deputy Director General and Head of the Euro-Asian Division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Ben-Zvi.

Kazakhstan is a secular state but culturally part of the Islamic world and a member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 1995. But this poses no obstacle to harmonious relations with Israel, he noted.

“Kazakhstan is not the only country we have relationships with in the region, and all of them are moderate Muslim countries. This fact has no influence on our excellent relations and I do not only mean five Central Asian countries, but also Azerbaijan, for example. For 26 years, we have had very good relations with Kazakhstan and we politically do not see any problems. Obviously, we do have sometimes a difference of opinions, but that is not an issue,” Ben-Zvi said.

However, economic cooperation between the two countries could be closer.

“If I had any kind of criticism, it would be because we do not have enough of economic relations. We buy energy resources from Kazakhstan; still, we need to think about other ways to increase our economic exchange. That is the point that we need to press in the future. Otherwise, Kazakhstan and Israel are in very good relations,” he added.

With science and technology being one of Israel’s most developed sectors, advances in medicine, education and agriculture are among priority areas for Kazakh-Israeli cooperation.

Every year around 60 Kazakh specialists visit Israel under the MASHAV training programme in fields such as agriculture, education, management, medicine and public health, rural and urban development.

“We are well known for our expertise in those fields and we work hard through the embassy to bring Kazakh specialists to Israel for an extensive programme of trainings. More than a thousand people have gone through the programme since its establishment, came back, applied the knowledge here and provided sound advice,” Ben-Zvi noted.

“The important thing is that we are not offering a model to copy; we are speaking about adapting our experience for local conditions, not adopting [it],” he added.

Currently, the two countries are negotiating issues of double taxation.

The Deputy Director General of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs came to Kazakhstan to discuss bilateral relations.

“I am in charge of our relations with the post-Soviet region and we have a practice of political dialogue with each country. During the visit, I met with Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to go through all the aspects of our bilateral relations and do a brush up after the intergovernmental commission meeting in Israel last year,” he said.

This year has been intensive and fruitful in terms of cultural exchange between Israel and Kazakhstan. Bands from Israel participated in an Almaty Jazz festival and the Israeli bands Quarter to Africa and Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis performed during the Spirit of Tengri festival. Also, the Israeli embassy organised a performance by Vertigo contemporary ballet troop at the Astana Ballet, which was not only dedicated to the celebration of 70 years of Israeli independence but also to the 20th anniversary of the Kazakh capital.




Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал аграриев активно использовать земли сельхозназначения

22 Июня 2018 21:57 176

АКТОБЕ. КАЗИНФОРМ – В ходе поездки в Мартукский район аким области Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал сельчан активно использовать земли, выделенные для растениеводства и животноводства, передает корреспондент МИА  «Казинформ» со ссылкой на пресс-службу акима области.

Бердыбек Сапарбаев встретился с руководителями хозяйств и тружениками села.

«Надо эффективно пользоваться землями, выделенными вам для развития сельского хозяйства. Больше не будет даваться срок в три года для ее освоения. Теперь, если за год земля не освоена, она будет возвращена в государственную собственность. Возвращенные гектары будут выделяться хозяйствам, умеющим работать с землей. Для тех, кто хочет заняться скотоводством, хочет сеяться, мы дадим землю и окажем поддержку», – предупредил сельчан аким области.

Следует отметить, что в последние годы площади посевных земель в области растут на 7-10 тысяч гектаров ежегодно.

Бердыбек Сапарбаев рекомендовал руководителям хозяйств заниматься выращиванием овощей, развивать животноводство и пчеловодство.

В ходе поездки по району аким посетил молочно-товарную ферму ТОО «Айс». Здесь был презентован проект «Milker» по заготовке кормов в виде кукурузы и люцерны для скота на общую сумму 2,5 миллиарда тенге. Товарищество закупило всю необходимую сельскохозяйственную технику. На втором этапе планируется создать молочно-товарную ферму на 1600 голов КРС стоимостью 6 миллиардов тенге.

Также аким области осмотрел ход работ по прокладке 11 километров линий электропередач и 12,5 километра водопровода от реки Илек для обеспечения водой орошаемых земель на территории Каратугайского сельского округа. Продолжилась рабочая поездка главы области посещением палаточного лагеря «Байтерек», где отдыхают 100 детей.

Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал аграриев активно использовать земли сельхозназначения

Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал аграриев активно использовать земли сельхозназначения 
Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал аграриев активно использовать земли сельхозназначения 

Аким области также побывал в ТОО «Ремонтник», ознакомился с ходом текущего ремонта на автодороге в направлении Мартук – Байторысай протяженностью 30,5 км.

В селе Мартук аким области принял участие в открытии парка «Бақытты бала».

«Глава государства Нурсултан Назарбаев создает все условия для развития молодежи, детей. Наша задача – продолжить эти благие начинания. Поэтому у нас в рамках программы «Рухани жаңғыру» воплощается в жизнь проект «Бақытты бала». За пять месяцев реализации этого проекта было сделано немало хороших дел, одно из них – парк «Бақытта бала», – отметил Бердыбек Сапарбаев.

В завершение встречи аким области вручил 20 учащимся сертификаты на поездку в столицу и принял участие в посадке деревьев на аллее, посвященной 20-летию Астаны.

Бердыбек Сапарбаев призвал аграриев активно использовать земли сельхозназначения 



Responsibility. Initiative. Intermediation. Kazakhstan’s efforts in European security matters and OSCE

Kazakhstan’s engagement in European security matters is a remarkable story of taking responsibility, demonstrating initiative and taking on a moderating role in Central Asia, between the East and West of Europe and beyond the European continent. Kazakhstan has performed impressively in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Kazakhstan’s 2010 OSCE Chairmanship set signals that are still detectable.

Dr. Frank Evers.

Being open, taking responsibility

Right from its application, Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship of the OSCE demonstrated a self-confident understanding of the right and duty to make use of this important European security platform. As early as 2003, Kazakhstan had already announced its candidacy. As a country with a multi-vector foreign policy, located between major actors of Europe and Asia, Kazakhstan saw itself as well-positioned for this.

In 2010, it was the very first time that a Central Asian state had taken the OSCE Chair. For this reason alone, it was a trendsetting step at a time when the OSCE was already in a difficult situation and Kazakhstan and a number of states were being criticised for their way of understanding OSCE norms and commitments – particularly in the OSCE Human Dimension. There were heated arguments over these issues and over the interference of the OSCE in the internal affairs of these and other states. Disputes during the so-called OSCE reform discussions in 2005-2006 had ended without significant results. Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the conflict in Georgia had ultimately aggravated the tense atmosphere in OSCE-Europe in 2008. In this situation, Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship turned out to make a skilful contribution to resuming political discussions with each other again – at least, temporarily. Under the umbrella of the so-called OSCE Corfu Process, Kazakhstan moderated a brief, but unique, open-minded brainstorming period. Although it ended shortly afterwards, it left behind a feeling for what could be politically possible in Europe.

On a different level, Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship was an indication of the country’s clear sense of responsibility for the interlinked components of security in the OSCE. Notably, this implied the openness of its leadership to discussing Kazakhstan’s interior developments with the entire OSCE family – not really a natural concomitant in foreign relations. Conceptually, this opening reflected the government’s goals to simultaneously modernise the country along three tracks – the national economy, the political system and the national identity. It was certainly an important experience for a number of civil society actors and civil servants and, above all, for the community of Kazakhstan’s diplomats, who had the chance and duty to deal intensively with Europe’s political thinking and acting during the Chairmanship. Between 2007-2009, the Centre for OSCE Research (CORE) in Hamburg had the pleasure of conducting a series of chairmanship training courses to prepare many of them for their tasks. Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship represented an intense intellectual exchange with elites and societies from different parts of Europe, which is one of the particular added values of the OSCE.

Being innovative, setting accents

Kazakhstan is a contributor to mutual understanding of Asian issues in Europe and European issues in Asia. While it makes no secret of its criticisms of various sides of the OSCE, this has never prevented it from making active contributions and shaping the organisation’s agenda. During its Chairmanship, the Kazakhstan delegation led – very professionally – a year of lively East-West discussions in the framework of the OSCE Corfu Process. The declared objective of Corfu was to rebuild trust between the states. Apparently, this goal could not be achieved. At the same time, Kazakhstan, as a country between two continents, set a number of new accents in these discussions and in the OSCE itself.

Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship gave Central Asia an active part in the political picture of the OSCE. As German State Secretary Gernot Erler put it, it encouraged the Central Asian states “to conceive of themselves as active ‘co-owners’ of the organisation, not merely as addressees of its policies.”

On the other hand, Central Asia and its agenda were anchored in European political thinking more deeply than ever before. European heads of state and government paid tribute to the increased significance of Central Asia and, specifically, to Kazakhstan’s role when they came to the OSCE Astana Summit. No other country but Kazakhstan would have been able to arrange such a major political OSCE event at this particular point in time. Apart from this political symbolism, Astana was also a good place for them to give the OSCE a new geopolitical description of the “most inclusive and comprehensive regional security organisation in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian area.” Undoubtedly, this recognised worldwide shifts of economic and political gravity towards Central Asia and Asia.

The “vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, rooted in agreed principles, shared commitments and common goals,” which was formulated in Astana, clearly exceeded the-then current political feasibilities as did the non-adopted Astana Framework for Action.  Even so, they triggered discussions across Europe and created reference points for later dialogue.

Finally, the Kazakhstan OSCE Chairmanship brought a renewal, not the abolition or reduction of the OSCE human-dimension principles and commitments. Thus, this particular component of security still remains a given fact in political Europe. Then again, the way to practically handle the participating states’ commitment to common responsibility over their internal affairs is subject to current discords in the OSCE. The open-ended reflection process on the participation of civil society organisations in OSCE events and the other disputes over the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) are evidence of this.

Finally, Kazakhstan has also been innovative in its cooperation with the OSCE within the country. At present, the OSCE runs the OSCE Programme Office in Astana that has a history of changing formats, mandates and names. For years, Kazakhstan seems also to have considered other options for interacting with the OSCE. Kazakhstan’s neighbours and friends follow, with great attention, these considerations about thematic or other forms of future co-operation.

Moderating between the sides, contributing to mutual understanding

In many regards, Kazakhstan is a rising moderator and promoter of regional co-operation in Central Asia, between various players of the European continent and beyond. This also corresponds with the country’s purposeful development towards the ambitious goal of reaching the top 30 of the most developed nations within the next three decades.

Kazakhstan has a unique standing in many international formats, such as the OSCE, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Kazakh-initiated Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Through Kazakhstan, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2017-2018, Central Asia has been represented there for the very first time in UN history.

Kazakhstan is a nuclear-weapons-free state, plays a role in nuclear disarmament and is the initiator of a four-part plan of action on nuclear disarmament. It looks to take an active place in these processes.

Kazakhstan played a visible role in OSCE mediation efforts in the 2010 crises in Kyrgyzstan, while international organisations and major states largely refrained from undertaking measures. Currently, Kazakhstan is the host for the International High-Level Meeting on Syria – the peace-negotiation format in Astana that includes the Syrian government and opposition groups; Iran, Russia and Turkey as guarantor states and the UN, the U.S. and Jordan as invited observers. Here, Kazakhstan is accumulating sophisticated know-how in international conflict mediation that could be of particular interest to the OSCE. There is now a remarkable pool of leading Kazakhstan politicians and diplomats with the respective experience and skills.

It is widely known that Kazakhstan initiated and has hosted the triennial Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions since 2003. Leading OSCE representatives have participated over the years in this innovative, inter-faith dialogue process, the participants and topics of which are relatively new to the OSCE. To some extent, the congress in Astana nourishes OSCE discussions on specific matters such as the interdependence of religion, tolerance and non-discrimination, mutual respect and security, not to mention preventing violent extremism and radicalisation. Kazakhstan, as a country with a predominant Muslim population, is in an excellent position to spread OSCE know-how in the Asian and Muslim world. While the sixth congress is scheduled for October 2018, the secretariat of the congress in Astana would also be a valuable interlocutor for the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions that, right now, is leading discussions on the interplay between religion and security in the OSCE context.

When thinking about Kazakhstan’s future contributions to the OSCE, a significant role could be envisioned in mediating and interpreting between Europeans and Asians with a view to mutually understanding the ongoing security debates in the OSCE, on the one hand, and in the CICA, the SCO and the CSTO, on the other hand. Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and a neighbour of China, with its growing influence, that currently is intensifying efforts to connect with the world along its “Belt and Road Initiative.” Europeans perceive Kazakhstan as a knowledgeable interlocutor that is well-connected and has experience in both directions. Within the Central Asian region, the matter of regional economic connectivity is another subject of growing importance. We can only hope that these fruitful directions in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy will continue and even grow in the future.

The author is deputy head of the Centre for OSCE Research.



Kazakhstan to allocate $69 million to develop areas surrounding Almaty

ASTANA – Kazakhstan will allocate 23.6 billion tenge (US$69.38 million) to develop the areas around Almaty until 2020, Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov announced during a recent government meeting.

Photo credit: etoday.kz.

Development of the Almaty agglomeration that occupies 9,400 square kilometres is envisioned in the interregional plan until 2020, said Suleimenov. The document includes 67 measures, 11 of which are funded by the national budget.

“Almaty is characterised by a high concentration of human capital and financial resources, education and research potential, developed infrastructure ensuring access to national and world markets,” said Suleimenov.

The idea to boost the development of the city’s surrounding areas was first voiced by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2013.

He then instructed the government to focus on developing not only the country’s major cities, Astana and Almaty, but also its other big cities and, several months later in his 2014 state-of-the-nation address, he said Almaty, Astana, Aktobe and Shymkent should turn into urban centres of the country.

“The agglomeration includes nearby towns, such as Talgar, Yesik, Kaskelen, Kapshagai as well as Yenbekshikazakh, Zhambyl, Ili, Karasai and Talgar districts. It (agglomeration) has a population of 2.9 million people,” said Suleimenov.

Almaty is a home to 1.8 million people, he added.

Suleimenov outlined three tasks that the government and the city administration seek to address in developing the surrounding area of the city. These include territorial and institutional development of the agglomeration, its economic positioning at national and regional markets and infrastructure development of Almaty.

In the development of Almaty and its agglomeration, Nazarbayev stressed two objectives in urban planning that included reducing the effect of Almaty’s rapidly growing population along with addressing its transport and environmental problems and develop the city and its agglomeration as an innovative and industrial growth centre of the nation’s economy.

One of the measures included establishing an industrial zone in the Alatau district with a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly production.

“The industrial zone in the Alatau district occupies an area of 500 hectares and 390 of them will house plants that will produce construction materials, furniture, engineering equipment, food and pharmaceuticals. The industrial zone is divided in six industrial sectors,” said First Vice Minister for Investments and Development Roman Sklyar.

“The work was conducted to develop the services sector, including eco tourism. For example, these include events meant to develop and promote national nature parks such as Sharyn, Altyn Yemel, Ile Alatau and regional resorts, such as Alma Arasan,” noted Suleimenov.

The agglomeration should be developed as a “multifunctional region,” said Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev.

“The development of the Almaty agglomeration should seek to turn it into a multifunctional region with a competitive economy, high quality of life and environment, address interaction between akimats (local administrations) of the city and the region in terms of planning territorial development of the region, population and migration,” said Sagintayev.



FC Astana to face Montenegro team in early UEFA Champions League match

ASTANA – The Swiss city of Nyon recently held a toss-up of the first qualifying round of the 2018/19 season UEFA Champions League. Kazakhstan’s champion FC Astana will face Montenegro’s champion FK Sutjeska Niksic. The first match will be July 10-11 in Astana, and a return match will be July 17-18 in Montenegro.

Photo credit: inform.kz.

If FC Astana beats Montenegro, Astana will face Danish champion FC Midtjylland. The second round matches will be July 24-25 and July 31-Aug. 1. If FC Astana reaches the second round, they will play at home.

“Even if our opponent is not well-known among Kazakhstan’s football fans, no one should have an illusion.We have a serious opponent. Everyone knows that FK Sutjeska Niksic gave one of the best Montenegrin footballers of all times Mirko Vucinic, who showed up in A.S. Roma and Juventus F.C. FK Sutjeska is the defending champion of Montenegro, and the national football team of the country recently beat the national football team of Kazakhstan in the qualifying round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a goal difference of 8-0. The Balkan football teams are always careful, aggressive and have technically trained players. The training staff of FC Astana are to learn more about the opponent in a short time, and I am sure of a two-match game. FC Astana has never played against a club from Montenegro, and the matches will be of great interest to spectators,” said Sayan Khamitzhanov, president of FC Astana.




Kazakhstan, Brazil sign agreements on extradition, legal cooperation

ASTANA – Kazakh and Brazilian officials signed June 20 in Astana a treaty on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, extradition and the transfer of convicted persons.

Photo credit: prokuror.kz .

“Kazakhstan and Brazil need legal cooperation in criminal and civic matters, particularly in issues like extradition, recovering assets, exchange of prisoners, and the arbitration enforcement. All the legal means which makes the relationships more modern are in a particular interest within the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Justice Ministry of Kazakhstan and Brazil,” Brazilian Justice Minister Torquato Jardim told The Astana Times.

Jardim and Kazakh General Prosecutor Kairat Kozhamzharov signed the agreements that will create the legal framework for cooperation between law enforcement agencies in combating crime and protecting citizens’ rights.

The agreements allow procedural actions on criminal matters on the territory of another state, extradition of wanted fugitives, transfer of imprisoned citizens sentenced in another state to serve the sentence in their homeland.

“Contemporary world of electronic media suggests the legal areas should be as modern as technology is modern. Therefore, direct communications, certification of documents by ourselves will help to overcome long-held traditions of judicial relations and will speed up the legal processes,” said Jardim, who was visiting Astana for the first time.

The minister highlighted the importance of information and intelligence cooperation to combat emerging issues as transnational organised crime.

“Organised crimes are universal and very quick to adapt. They do not know legal system and the only way governments can match their speed under the law, by the law, and for the law is to improve and minimise bureaucracy between governments,” noted Jardim.

“By making the relationship and intelligence transnational, exchanging information and documents in a good and quick manner, the international community can combat organised crime,” he added.

“Five major challenges that our governments face are world drugs, arms trade, human trafficking, robbery, and terrorism. Four of five of these come under the same umbrella, they are operated by the same group of the organised crime community. Thus, we have to share personnel, intelligence, means of communication and operation to deal with these five challenges,” continued the minister.

The countries need to accommodate legal practices, judicial traditions, and legal systems. The first part of this exercise falls on the shoulders of governments, he added.



Minimum subsistence costs in Kazakhstan rise 14 percent in one year

ASTANA – The subsistence minimum in Kazakhstan reached 26,468 tenge (US$77.8) in May, increasing 14 percent increase within a year, reports finprom.kz. The figure in May 2017 was 23,218 tenge (US$68.26).

The subsistence level corresponds with the population’s minimum consumer basket of goods and services, including food products (55 percent) and non-food products (45 percent), according to the Kazakh law.

The highest subsistence level in Kazakhstan is in the oil rich Mangystau region with 32,300 tenge (US$94.96). Next is the country’s capital Astana, where the figure totals 30,600 tenge (US$89.96), followed by the country’s largest city Almaty with the subsistence minimum reaching 29,900 tenge (US$87.9).

The report indicates the figure increases on average by 9.7 percent each year. Between 2012 and 2017, the subsistence minimum rose 7,000 tenge (US$20.58) from 16,800 (US$49.39) to 23,800 tenge (US$69.97).

The subsistence minimum for children was 21,435 tenge (US$63). The figure reached 31,440 tenge (US$92.43) for men and24,968 tenge (US$73.4) for women.

Basic necessities for retired and elderly people cost 24,753 tenge (US$72.77), said the report.

Within the subsistence minimum structure, spending on meat and fish account for 19.8 percent, dairy and eggs – 15.3 percent, fruits and vegetables – 10.5 percent, bread and grits – 7.3 percent and sugar, tea and spices – 2.1 percent.






Kazakh government to change method of assigning basic pensions

ASTANA – Beginning July 1, the Kazakh government will change the method of assigning basic pension payments. The figure will depend on the duration of the individual’s participation in the pension system, reported the Government for Citizens press service.

The base pension will be appointed only if a citizen reaches the general established retirement age. The changes will affect newly emerging and established pensioners whose payment will be recalculated from the base pension.

The basic pension payment is currently 15,274 tenge (US$44.75), which is 54 percent of the subsistence minimum. The amount is the same for all pensioners, regardless of income and seniority.

Under the change, the basic pension payment will be recalculated depending on the number of years a person has participated in the pension system. The new number will include solidarity experience before July 1, 1998 and accumulated experience after this date.

If a citizen worked and made deductions to a single accumulative pension fund for 10 years or less (or did not work at all), the basic pension is set at 54 percent of the subsistence minimum. For each working year, the basic payment increases by 2 percent over 10 years. For example, with 20 years of employment experience, the size of the basic pension payment will reach 74 percent of the subsistence minimum; 30 years – 94 percent. If a pensioner worked 33 years or more, the size of the basic pension will be 100 percent of the subsistence minimum, or 28,284 tenge (US$82.90).

Years of pensionable service will include work years before January 1, 1998, including time periods during which mandatory pension contributions were paid; while caring for children under 3 years old or those who are disabled (childhood to 16 years) or living with a spouse who is a military servant, special agency employee or diplomatic worker.

The recalculation of the basic pension payment will be made automatically to all recipients. Citizens will not need to go anywhere and provide additional documents and statements.

The single pension system was destroyed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan was the first of the Commonwealth of Independent States to implement pension reform in 1998. The state used the Chilean pension system as a prototype for its system.

Since January 1, 1998, all working citizens have been required to deduct 10 percent of their accumulative pension fund income for individual pension accounts. Grigoriy Marchenko and Daulet Sembayev, the chairmen of the National Bank in the 1990s and 2000s, developed the pension reform.



Kazakh Foreign Ministry praises North Korea – United States summit

ASTANA – The Kazakh Foreign Ministry praised in a recent statement the June 12 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Photo credits: Twitter Donald J. Trump .

“We regard this summit as an important historic event. It will promote the trust between Washington and Pyongyang and will contribute to the normalisation of relations between North Korea and the international community,” the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Kazakhstan is a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council and supports building a world without nuclear weapons. The country supports a continuation of negotiations between North Korea and the United States toward North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and encourages all concerned parties to support the negotiation process.

Astana supports Pyongyang’s desire for denuclearisation and urges North Korea follow Kazakhstan’s nuclear disarmament example. Kazakhstan abandoned the world’s fourth largest nuclear potential and closed one of the world’s largest nuclear test sites. The country continues to seek global nuclear non-proliferation regime by supporting the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, among other efforts.

The first and historic United States  – North Korea summit took place at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12. The dialogue began with a handshake between the two leaders whose countries have technically been at war since 1953.

In addition to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, they discussed bilateral relations and the recovery of soldiers’ remains.