Kazakhstan

  • History of great famine in the Kazakh steppe

    The Kazakh feature film “The Crying Steppe” has been included in the long list as Kazakhstan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film in foreign language at the 93rd Academy Awards scheduled for April 25 this year.

    The film is based on real events that happened in Kazakhstan in 1920-30, when about 1.5 million – 3 million people of the local nation died of famine, a result of forced collectivization for Kazakhs who were nomadic livestock farmers as part of their culture.

    In Kazakhstan, it was dramatically aggravated by the decision to enforce in parallel a violent campaign of sedentarisation of nomadic cattle-breeders, which was the majority of Kazakh people before the 1930s. The Soviets confiscated cattle from the Kazakhs. By forcefully taking cattle from nomads, they doomed the Kazakh nation to extinction.

    The story centers around a berkutchi (eagle hunter) Turar and his wife Nuriya who try to save their family and other village residents from hunger.

    “The crackdown on free-thinking and the annihilation of ethnic culture and human values led to spiritual starvation and the killing of the soul,” Marina Kunarova, the director of the film, said, as quoted by goldenglobes.com.

    “The film raises the question of ‘why?’ Why did our forefathers have had to pay such a terrible price? And why, up until now, have we been afraid to admit what really happened and, instead, conceal our tragic history from the rest of the world?” she said.

    Kunarova is the first female director from Kazakhstan nominated for the prestigious award. The film was presented in November 2020 in Los-Angeles, the film also participated in the Golden Globe competition for Best Foreign Language Film Award.

    “(It is) the history of our people, our ancestors who died innocently. It all took us five years and two years of preparations. We are now on the long list. Now, the shortlist of Oskar will be announced at the end of February,” said film producer Yernar Malikov, as quoted by Tengrinews.kz

    The tragedy caused by the Great Famine in the Kazakh steppe has affected every modern Kazakh family, as well as myself. For example, my maternal grandmother Gaini told me that she lost her husband and small children during a time of famine.

    “I cried a lot and missed my dead children. It was scary to be alone in those years,” my grandmother told me.

    Left as a widow, she married my grandfather Bilyal, who at the same time stayed with two young sons, the youngest was two years old. My grandfather’s first wife died of hunger along with the newborn. Thus, my grandmother Gaini raised two sons from my grandfather’s first marriage. Then my mother was born. I – the author of these lines, belong to the second generation of Kazakhs, born from those who were able to survive the Great Famine in the Kazakh steppe.

    For Kazakhstan, the historical topic has become especially relevant today in connection with the statements of some Russian politicians about the alleged lack of statehood among the Kazakhs. In addition, this year this Central Asian republic is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence following the collapse of the Soviet empire.

    At the beginning of this year, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in his  article “Independence is the most precious thing”, where he outlined his program, said that today historical scenarios are in demand in the world film industry and that “Netflix, HBO and other large film companies are heading to Asia,” and Kazakhstan has a history of many important events that can form the basis of such films, for example, the history of the Golden Horde, one of the most powerful empires in the world.

    Tokayev noted that in the future, Kazakh film critics should pay special attention to the history of the country. He stressed, “we need to keep strong roots, not to break away from our national identity, culture and traditions” and that the younger generation should know the value of the country’s independence”.

  • At UN, Kazakhstan proposes multilateral biological weapons control system

    In light of the global pandemic, launching of a biological weapons control system is becoming more acute than ever, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at the General Debate of the 75th session of the UNGA “The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism” on September 23.

    “Kazakhstan proposes to establish a special multilateral body – the International Agency for Biological Safety – based on the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and accountable to the UN Security Council,” he said.

    The nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament crisis is looming right behind the pandemic. “Kazakhstan has been the role model of a responsible state by willingly abandoning its nuclear arsenal and shutting down world’s biggest nuclear test site.

    However, continuous erosion of the non-proliferation regime leaves us in a dangerous position,” he said.

    Kazakhstan urged all Member States to join its appeal to nuclear powers to take necessary and urgent measures to save the humankind from a nuclear disaster.

    “In this respect we appreciate an active role played by relevant UN institutions including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.  We believe that legally-binding negative security assurances should be given to every non-nuclear-weapon state. That is why we urge all P5 countries to ratify the respective Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaties, including Semipalatinsk Treaty,” he said.

    According to the Kazakh President, the international community needs to do more to combat the health crisis following the coronavirus outbreak.

    “Firstly, to build a strong global health system priority must be given to upgrading national health institutions through timely and coordinated support from developed countries and UN agencies,” he said. “Secondly, we must take the politics out of the vaccine. It is not too late for reaching a COVID-19 vaccine trade and investment agreement that would protect global production and supply chains. Thirdly, it may be necessary to revise the International Health Regulations to increase the World Health Organization’s capacity, and to develop national capabilities in preventing and responding to diseases. Fourthly, we suggest that the idea of a network of Regional Centres for Disease Control and Biosafety under the UN auspices be closely examined. Kazakhstan stands ready to host such a regional centre,” Tokayev said.

    Turning to the global economy, Tokayev urged the UN delegates to step up urgent concerted efforts for a truly global economic recovery. “I join the Secretary-General’s call on rescue package amounting to 10% of the world economy and share his view that the response to the pandemic should be based on a New Global Deal to create equal and broader opportunities for all,” he said.

    Tokayev called for the suspension of debt repayments by the poorest countries to help reduce uncertainty. International financial institutions need to implement innovative solutions like debt-to-health system swaps.

    “I hope that the upcoming High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development will produce concrete measures.  Landlocked developing countries have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 which has severely damaged trade and supply chains,” Tokayev said.

    As the current Chair of the LLDC Group, Kazakhstan has proposed a UN Roadmap to reinvigorate implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, he said.

    “The highest expectation of our people is practical deliverables within Agenda 2030.

    We need prompt and well-coordinated steps to get back on track for an accelerated SDG Decade of Action – probably the most critical decade of our generation.  The very basic target, zero hunger is to be provided unconditionally.  In this context, we note the importance of convening a Food Systems Summit in 2021,” he said.

    The Kazakh President said the Islamic Organization for Food Security, initiated by his country is ready to assist the international humanitarian campaign through the creation of food reserves. “We should renew our commitment to leave no one behind, especially women, youth, children, elders, persons with disabilities, disproportionately affected by the crisis. The largest disruption of education systems in history should be stopped from becoming a generational catastrophe. Civic engagement and private sector involvement are also critical for solving current pressing problems.  During past months we have witnessed strong solidarity all over the world through volunteering.

    To acknowledge the role of volunteers, I propose the United Nations to proclaim an International Year of Mobilising Volunteers for Development. In Kazakhstan I announced the current year as a Year of Volunteers,” he said.

    Turning to climate change, Tokayev said it’s an existential crisis for the world civilisation. “The climate emergency is a race we are losing. But the post-COVID recovery gives us unique opportunity to put environmental protection at the forefront of international agenda. We must unite around the UN’s six climate positive actions.

    Kazakhstan is very vulnerable to the various effects of the climate change. The tragedies of Aral Sea and Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, the rapid melting of glaciers, and desertification threaten not only Kazakhstan and Central Asian region, but also the entire world,” he said.

    Although Kazakhstan is highly dependent on fossil fuels and has a long way to go to meet Paris 2030 targets, the countru’s commitment to develop a decarbonised economy has no alternative, he said. “We will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030 through economic overhaul and industrial modernisation. And yet, in next five years we will plant more than two billion trees,” he said.

    Due to the immensely growing demand for confidence-building, Kazakhstan aims to transform Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia into a full-fledged organization for security and development in Asia, he said.

    Tokayev invited all countries to join the Code of Conduct for Achieving a World Free of Terrorism. “Kazakhstan was among the first to repatriate our women and children from war-torn Syria and Iraq. It was not an easy decision, but absolutely necessary one.

    It is our strong belief that the United Nations must lead the global effort to overcome the pandemic, accelerate recovery and improve prospects for global governance,” he said.

    Turning to the national level, Tokayev said Kazakhstan is determined to build an economically strong, democratically advanced and human-oriented “Listening State”.

    “Therefore, we conduct political and economic reforms that are expected to give a boost to the development of our society to meet up the expectations of our people.

    We have decriminalised defamation, adopted new laws on political parties and on the peaceful mass meetings,” he said, adding that the country has reduced the gender Inequality Index value by two times and have introduced a mandatory 30% quota for women and youth in election party lists. “We have helped 4.5 million fellow-citizens who temporarily lost their income during pandemic having allocated for this goal 1.1 billion dollars. Over a million people have received food and household packages. It was an unprecedented measure in our part of the world,” he said.

    Tokayev noted that regional cooperation has always been Kazakhstan’s main focus and commitment. Central Asia is undergoing rapid transformation through significant expansion of regional cooperation in various fields. “No doubt that a prosperous, strong and united Central Asia is beneficial both for regional and global stakeholders.

    As to regional stability, the rational use of transboundary water resources is instrumental. We thus propose the establishment of a Regional water and energy consortium,” he said, adding, “To coordinate development agenda in the region we intend to institutionalise a UN-led regional SDGs Center in Almaty”.

     

  • Kazakhstan President announces July 13 as National Mourning Day

    NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared July 13 as the Day of National Mourning for Kazakhs who died from coronavirus.

    “The virus continues to take the lives of our people. Someone has lost their father, brother, mother, sister … I express my condolences to the families of the victims. The death of each of the Kazakhstanis touches my heart. I declare July 13 as National Mourning Day for Kazakhstanis who became victims of coronavirus,”  Tokayev said, speaking in televised remarks on July 8.

    He recalled that the country’s authorities from the very first days took measures against the spread of coronavirus and introduced the state of emergency in March – April, which saved many lives.

    However, the president admitted that today Kazakhstan has a second wave of coronavirus.

    The healthcare system in Kazakhstan was not ready to fight back the coronavirus, an investigation will be conducted, Tokayev said. “I must say bluntly: the healthcare system was not ready to repulse this disease. On this issue we will conduct an investigation and learn from it. We will give an appropriate assessment of the actions of akims (mayors),” Tokayev said.

    He noted, unfortunately, due to non-compliance with quarantine measures and systemic errors of the former leadership of the Ministry of Health and the sluggishness of mayors in the field. “We are actually dealing with the second wave of coronavirus, coupled with a sharp increase in pneumonia,”  Tokayev stressed.

    He noted that the introduction of a new quarantine for two weeks from July 5 is the right decision. According to him, about 150 billion tenge ($1- 409 tenge) will be allocated to strengthen the fight against coronavirus, to treat Kazakhstanis, to buy tests and necessary drugs, as well as to buy equipment and stimulate medical workers.

    The President of the country noted that the situation with coronavirus in Kazakhstan remains serious, but compared to other states in proportional terms, the situation here is not better, but not worse.

    “The number of infected people in the world has reached 12 million people and the number of victims is growing,” Tokayev said.

    According to official data, 51,059 infections of COVID have been registered in Kazakhstan, 16,928 have recovered, 264 have died.

    According to Kazakhstan’s Health Ministry, the epidemiological situation related to the coronavirus pandemic in Kazakhstan is under control. The Government of Kazakhstan is taking all the necessary and timely measures to combat the epidemic, the ministry said.

  • Il Kazakistan riduce le forniture di gas alla Cina

    Il Kazakistan ha ridotto le forniture di gas alla Cina del 12-15%, fino a 18 milioni di metri cubi al giorno. L’iniziativa è stata presa proprio dalla Cina che ha inviato una lettera a KazTransGaz in seguito alla chiusura delle imprese cinesi e della loro incapacità di consumare le forniture di gas dell’Asia centrale. Kazakistan, Turkmenistan e Uzbekistan stanno discutendo una riduzione generale delle forniture di gas alla Cina perché quest’anno la domanda da parte di Pechino è diminuita a causa delle misure adottate per combattere la diffusione del coronavirus. Il Kazakistan ha annunciato di aver ridotto le sue forniture di gas naturale 20-25% dopo che PetroChina ha emesso una notifica di forza maggiore delle importazioni a marzo. Il gas dei paesi dell’Asia centrale arriva in Cina attraverso il gasdotto Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakistan-Cina che ha una capacità di 55 miliardi di metri cubi di gas all’anno.

    L’anno scorso, il Kazakistan ha esportato 7,1 miliardi di metri cubi di gas in Cina, l’Uzbekistan circa 10 miliardi e il Turkmenistan circa 33,2 miliardi.

  • Number of coronavirus-infected workers grows at Kazakhstan’s Tengiz field

    NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – There are 935 cases of coronavirus among the employees of 42 contractors at Kazakhstan’s giant Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan, the operational headquarters in Atyrau region said in a statement on May 20, adding that COVID-19 was detected in 22 camps out of 92.

    A disinfection was carried out in all centres while 1,725 ​​field workers are monitored in quarantine hospitals, the statement read. A special working group should determine measures to stabilise the situation with coronavirus at the Tengiz field, the statement added.

    Сhief sanitary doctor of Kazakhstan Aizhan Esmagambetova noted on May 20 that, due the increase of COVID – 19 cases at Tengiz, a government commission was sent to Atyrau region.

    Tengiz is the largest oil and gas field in western Kazakhstan, which is being developed by the Kazakh-American joint company TengizChevroil. The annual volume of oil production is 25-26 million tonnes.

  • EU and Kazakhstan launch high-level dialogue on economic and business cooperation

    The EU-Kazakhstan High-Level Platform of dialogue on economic and business matters held its first meeting on 1 July in Nur-Sultan, chaired by Kazakhstan Prime Minister Askar Mamin. The meeting was also attended by leading European companies and EU Heads of Mission led by the EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Sven-Olov Carlsson. “The High-Level Platform between the European Union, its businesses and the Kazakh Government is important for regular exchange of views,” Carlsson said in his opening speech.

    With the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and Kazakhstan have developed a framework for further strengthening trade and economic relations. The EU supports Kazakhstan’s ambitious reform and modernisation processes, including the improvement of the business climate.

    During the meeting, both parties discussed issues of common interest, including reducing technical barriers to trade, notably in the agro-food sector, as well as issues related to tax legislation. The European Union is Kazakhstan’s first trading partner and represents more than half of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan.

    The EU is Kazakhstan’s first trading partner and represents more than half of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan. The EU represents over one third of Kazakhstan’s external trade and over half of total foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan. With over 75% of oil exports going to the EU (representing approximately 6% of total EU imports), Kazakhstan is already the third largest non-member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries supplier for the EU. From the EU, Kazakhstan imports machinery, transport equipment and pharmaceuticals, alongside chemical products, plastics, medical devices and furniture.

    The EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, signed in Nur-Sultan on 21 December 2015 and provisionally application since 1 May 2016, aims at creating a better regulatory environment for businesses in areas such as trade in services, establishment and operation of companies, capital movements, raw materials and energy, intellectual property rights. It is a tool of regulatory convergence between Kazakhstan and the EU, with some “WTO plus” provisions, notably on public procurement.

    The next meeting is preliminary scheduled for autumn this year.

  • In Kazakhstan la XV Edizione dell’Eurasian Media Forum

    La XV edizione dell’Eurasian Media Forum si terrà dal 22 al 24 maggio 2018 ad Almaty, in Kazakhstan.

    Il Forum è stato fondato nel 2001 come istituzione non politica, il cui scopo principale è quello di fornire una nuova piattaforma per esaminare le questioni est-ovest, con il coinvolgimento attivo di personalità politiche, giornalisti e commentatori.

    L’agenda del 2018 affronterà una serie di questioni legate alle sfide globali, tra cui le attuali tensioni tra i Potenti della Terra, le riforme dell’Unione Europea, le fake news e i social media, le nuove tecnologie, i cambiamenti climatici e altro ancora. Il messaggio chiave di questa edizione sarà “Evoluzione”.

    Negli anni il Forum ha ospitato personalità di spicco del mondo accademico, dei mass media, della politica provenienti dagli Stati Uniti, dall’Europa, dall’Eurasia e dal Medio Oriente. L’Eurasian Media Forum è ormai un evento nazionale credibile e riconosciuto che offre  ai partecipanti l’opportunità di incontrare funzionari governativi di alto livello, giornalisti e delegati internazionali che garantiscono la pluralità dei punti di vista.

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