Development of Kazakh-Croatian cooperation

A reception on the occasion of the Independence Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the participation of Croatian government officials, businessmen and public figures and heads of foreign diplomatic missions was held in Zagreb, the press service of the Kazakh Embassy to Croatia informs. Originally posted to inform on 13.12.2013:

Addressing the guests at the reception, charge d’affaires of Kazakhstan to Croatia Tolezhan Barlybayev noted under President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s wise leadership Kazakhstan has successfully overcome hardships of the last decade, formed as an independent state, created market economy, infrastructure and civil society institutes.

It was also said that the “Kazakhstan-2050” Development Strategy has mapped out a new route for the country to enter a new stage of its historical development. Strong nation, stability and sustainable economic growth securing the gradual promotion of living standards in Kazakhstan are indispensable in achieving the goals outlined in the strategy.

“Croatia’s accession to the EU has opened up new opportunities for the development of Kazakh-Croatian cooperation. Despite the fact that trade turnover between the two countries has doubled last year and reached $300 million, it still does not correspond to the potential of our economies,” the embassy’s press release reads.

Video materials, photo albums and books about Kazakhstan were presented at the reception. Big photo show themed “Modern Kazakhstan” of the Croatian amateur photographer from Zagreb organized on the eve of Kazakhstan’s Independence Day has sparked intense public interest.

$250 mln to be invested to construction of tourist facilities for EXPO-2017 Astana

$250 million dolalrs will be invested in tourist facilities to be constructed for Expo 2017. This will help bring more people to Kazakhstan for the expo. Originally posted to on 26.11.2013:

The investment for $250 million is offered to be allocated for the construction of tourist facilities in Astana for the EXPO-2017 international exhibition, Managing Director of the Horwath HTL and one of the developers of the master plan Miroslav Dragicevic said during the presentation of the master plan, CA-News reported, citing Novosti Kazakhstan . 

According to Director of the Kazakhstan Industry Development Institute Karlygash Altaeva, the final version of the master plan will be ready in December. She also said that the master plan includes construction of 10 objects such as a water park, scientific and educational town, Steppe Civilization ethnic complex that will show tourists everyday life of nomads. She added that the working group has also developed tour-packages for tourists. 

Karlygash Altaeva noted that the aim of the constructions is to attract tourists to the EXPO-2017.  

Kazakhstan will join 30 developed world economies

President of the Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao has expressed confidence that Kazakhstan will join the 30 developed economies in the world. Originally posted to Inform on BNews 24.10.2013:

“Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and I have discussed 2050 vision, according to which Kazakhstan is aimed to enter the 30 developed economies in the world. I believe that Kazakhstan can achieve this by promoting the diversification of the economy, using the proceeds from the resources of a prudent manner, ensuring good governance , strengthening the institutions in order to promote the efficiency of the private sector,” the Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao said at a briefing.

He noted that the ADB will continue to provide support to Kazakhstan by providing funding for infrastructure, small and medium enterprises.”

Eurasian Economic Commission prepared new agreement about Protection of intellectual property

The Eurasian Economic Commission has prepared an agreement on coordinating actions to protect rights to intellectual properties in the Customs Union. The draft document has been approved by the Eurasian Economic Commission Board and was published on the EEC website on 30 October. Originally posted to BNews on 31.10.2013:

The agreement specifies violations of rights to intellectual property as the turnover of infringing merchandise, violations of intellectual property rights in the Internet, violations of copyright and neighboring rights. In turn, the turnover of infringing merchandise is explained as manufacturing, distribution or other usage, import, transportation or storage of merchandise resulting from intellectual efforts or the means of individualization that violates exclusive rights to such results or such means, BeITA reports.

The draft agreement provides for coordinating actions of the Customs Union member states in preventing, detecting, and investigating violations of rights to intellectual property as well as the improvement of the operation of authorized agencies in this sphere. The document also envisages harmonization and improvement of laws of the Customs Union member states for protecting rights to intellectual properties in the Customs Union.

In line with the agreement the authorized agencies of the Customs Union member states will share information about concrete facts regarding the violations of rights to intellectual property, information about persons involved, reports about the transportation of said merchandise from one country to another resulting in the violations.

The Eurasian Economic Commission Board requests all the Customs Union and Single Economic Space member states to perform the intrastate adjustment of the draft agreement by 1 December. 

Nazarbayev’s 2050 Strategy outlines modernizing reforms for Kazakhstan Exclusive

Today’s Kazakhstan is a country in constant flux. From the architectural transformation of its capital city, Astana, to the greening of its oil-based economy and the high tech overhaul of its healthcare and education systems, rapid modernization has afforded the average citizen a standard of living few could have imagined during Soviet times.

Indeed, in the 21 years since independence, Kazakhstan’s soaring economic growth has given rise to a relatively large and increasingly prosperous middle class–one well connected to the outside world and with aspirations of achieving a far greater quality of life than the generation that preceded it.

No one knows this better than Kazakhstan’s president, who in his State of the Nation address to Parliament last December outlined a plan for building on the country’s impressive gains by focusing on a set of ten social and economic priorities—part of the so-called “Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.” A comprehensive approach, the strategy aims to bring the Central Asian republic into the ranks of the world’s most developed countries by the middle of the 21st Century.

In his speech, Nazarbayev underscored the importance of innovation as a driver of Kazakhstan’s economic development and diversification, the core focus of a ten-year initiative launched in 2010. But he also placed unprecedented emphasis on the need for social reform, urging Parliament to adopt policies that not only protect the welfare of the people, but also promote self-betterment and individual initiative, helping Kazakhs overcome what he later called “the inertia of paternalism.”

Not satisfied with the pace of Parliament’s response, the President echoed those calls for reform six months later in a column he penned for Kazakhstanskaya Pravda. “Social issues cannot be postponed until later,” he wrote, reminding readers that the “care of every Kazakhstani is at the center of my attention” and that of vital importance to the country’s development is finding a “balance between economic success and the provision of public goods.”

Titled “Social Modernization of Kazakhstan: 20 steps toward a Society of Social Inclusion and Employment,” the column is a paean to the virtues of hard work and civic participation. But it’s also a scathing critique of the ideology of consumerism; warning of the perils of “wild capitalism,” the President pointed to the “work less, earn more” mantra of consumer societies, which he said spawned “massive social dependence in the developed world” and cited as “a main cause of the global economic crisis.”

Consumerism has turned out to be a ruinous course for countries around the world, the President said, and for Kazakhstan he proposed an alternative way forward—what he calls a “Society of Universal Labor.”

“All the value of world civilization, all the economic and cultural wealth, is created by human labor, not by virtual financial institutions,” Nazarbayev wrote, describing his plan as “practical,” “pragmatic,” and premised on the belief that in today’s global competition, labor is the “decisive factor.”

Which is to say that for all of its mineral riches and vast reserves of oil, Kazakhstan’s most valuable resource is its people. By instilling in them industriousness and a sense of self-reliance, Nazarbayev believes that the state can help prepare Kazakhs for a future in the new innovation-driven economy, unleashing people’s creative potential and empowering them to act and organize on their own behalf.

“Kazakhstan is opening a new page in its own development,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov on a visit to Brussels last March to mark the 20th anniversary of relations between Kazakhstan and the European Union and to formally announce the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. “Our vision is to bring Kazakhstan into the group of 30 most developed countries in the world, and when we say developed we mean from all aspects of life: economically, politically, and from the point of view of democratic and civil institutions.”

As Idrissov later told Tengrinews, Kazakhstan’s English-language news site, the President’s message should serve as a call to younger generations of Kazakhs not to squander what previous generations have managed to build and to take the country forward with “a more professional approach.”

Of course, stating the vision is one thing; implementing is quite another. Critical to success, Nazarbayev said, is the establishment of an “effective system of state management,” including a corps of experts across ministries and at each and every level of government. Also important, he added, is that the reforms be carried out on a national scale and at a measured pace appropriate to the sector in question.

“There should be no rushing ahead,” Nazarbayev told readers. “All changes in the social sphere should correspond to the level of development of Kazakhstan’s economy.”

Those changes run the gamut from amendments to the legislation governing education, housing and other social issues to the establishment of a health insurance system and the development of innovative measures to expand access to information technology. All are important parts of the package, and the President was careful to address each in detail. But one issue in particular, he said, merits the country’s utmost attention.

“Without a doubt, the most urgent matter of social modernization is to create an effective model of social-labor relations,” the President wrote, adding that such a model should be based on a partnership between state, private and professional associations. In recent years, Kazakhstan has done much to promote job creation, namely through the Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development Program designed to diversify the country’s economy and make it more competitive in the global marketplace.

That program has largely been a success, having led to the creation of thousands of new jobs since it was launched in 2010. As the President stated in his speech to Parliament, plans are in place to create another 1.5 million jobs by 2020, mainly through targeted support for rural-based entrepreneurs. But just as important as job creation, he said, is job seeking on the part of would-be workers. “We see that not all unemployed people seek work,” wrote Nazarbayev. If Kazakhstan is to be a competitive nation, he added, “We need to get rid of this mentality! Young people must develop new skills.”

Strengthening the legislative framework around labor also remains a pressing priority, said the President, who noted that though the country had adopted a Labor Code in 2007, the provisions regulating relations between employer and employee are often overly complex and difficult for employees to understand. One provision in particular, he said—a stipulation that new employees undergo an unpaid probationary period—had been used by unscrupulous employers to justify hiring help for a fixed term only to fire the worker without pay after the job was done. “It is nothing but exploitation of our country’s youth!” the President boomed, adding that upon further investigation, this injustice was found to be within the employer’s legal rights.

Equally outdated, the President went on, is the legislation on trade unions, which he called a “key partner of the state” in the sphere of labor relations. Absent any reference to the concept of a “social partnership,” he said, the law, which was adopted in 1993, hamstrings labor organizations in forging collective agreements, robbing them of the ability to prevent and settle disputes and conflicts. In fact, he said, owing to its Soviet inspired charter, the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (FTU), the country’s largest trade union, does not even comply with current requirements.

“We must take decisive steps to modernize the labor movement, especially the FTU,” Nazarbayev wrote, stressing the need for “an efficient, multi-level mechanism” for settling labor disputes outside of court and for provisions in the Labor Code that would hold companies liable for such things as late payment of wages and failure to comply with collective agreements.

Perhaps the most visible sign of how far Kazakhstan has come in its drive to modernize society is the tremendous growth of information and communications technology (ICT). Since 2011, for example, the number of Internet users in the country has more than doubled—reaching 8.7 million—while a slew of new initiatives in e-governance have set out to digitize the delivery of state services and simplify business procedures for domestic and international investors.

The challenge, now, said Nazarbayev, is to develop a strategy for implementing those e-government services at the regional, town and district levels. Meanwhile, he said, the state should continue to expand access to information over the web through additional contributions to the digital archives of the Kazakh National Electronic Library (KAZNEB) and the modernization of the Kazakh media.

According to Darkhan Mynbay, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Culture and Information, a number of measures aimed at the latter are already underway, including work on a new draft code of journalistic ethics, updating the one first developed in 1997, and a plan to publish “professional portraits” of real working people. One example, he said, are Kazakhstan’s Olympic medal-winners “who by their hard work and talent have brought honor to our country.”

No less urgent, Nazarbayev went on, is the need for new legislation regulating public events. “In the 21st Century, social employment means much more than just employment,” Nazarbayev wrote. “Social employment also takes the form of public events organized by local authorities jointly with members of society.” Bicycle demonstrations, chess tournaments, city marathons, sports competitions, agricultural festivals, youth theater performances: these have an important role to play in enhancing social life, he said, and he called on all Kazakhstanis to take greater advantage of the country’s abundant cultural offerings, including the many theaters, museums and libraries opened over the past decade.

The past twenty years have seen striking change across Central Asia, and Kazakhstan has long stood out as a regional leader—not only in its economic ascendance, but also in the standard of living that growth has afforded citizens of the country. Now, having created the conditions for a middle class to grow and prosper, President Nazarbayev is calling on Kazakhs themselves to chart their own future—to work hard to improve themselves and to build a modern society that reflects the greatness of the country they call home.

Kazakh Parliament Steps up Government Transparency; Goes Online

The Majilis of the Kazakh Parliament has held its first online sitting today, according to President Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy calls for modernization of government, increased government transparency, and continued implementation of democratic reforms.

Opening the session, Speaker of the house Nurlan Nigmatulin emphasized the importance of the new format of work.

Kazakhstan Steps Up Government Transparency by Going Online

Kazakhstan Steps Up Government Transparency by Going Online

“From now on, plenary sessions of the Majilis will be held in online mode. On the official website of the Parliament, every Internet user now can watch firsthand how the work goes in the Majilis, what themes are discussed by the deputies of all parliamentary factions and how developers of bills defend their projects answering questions of the parliament members. Such format of work will help to make the work of the Majilis more transparent and open,” Nurlan Nigmatulin said.

Everyone who wants to know more about the work of the deputies and see how important for the country decisions are made have an opportunity to do it by logging on the Parliament website

Plenary sessions of the Majilis will be webcast live on the website every Wednesday at 10 am.