External News in Brief

Kazakhstan has been a reliable energy partner of the EU for a decade, Aurelia Bouchez, head of the EU delegation to the Kazakhstan, said at the 21st KIOGE 2013 Kazakhstan International Oil and Gas Exhibition held on Oct. 1-4 in Almaty. Addressing the event, Bouchez said that the EU is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner and 40 percent of its foreign trade falls to the EU. Oil and gas make up three-quarters of Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and Kazakhstan 20 years ago, bilateral cooperation in trade, economy, energy, transport, the environment and other areas has sharply increased, she said. “The cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union is based on a shared commitment to modernisation and innovation, including the transfer of high technologies and know-how in the oil and gas sector from European companies,” Bouchez said. According to Bouchez, there are many opportunities for business and both sides are very interested in their development.

The joint Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) peacekeeping exercise, Unbreakable Brotherhood 2013, kicked off at firing ground No. 255 of the Central Military District near Chebarkul town in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region on Oct. 7. Taking part in the exercise will be peacekeepers from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan and troops of the Special-Purpose Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, the special rapid response unit Rys and the special purpose police unit Zubr. The exercises brought together about 2,500 participants. The training ends on Oct. 11. Shooting exercises will be one of the important parts of the training. During the exercise, the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces will train to prepare and carry out peacekeeping missions in the collective security region. The exercise of the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces will be another practical measure designed to coordinate the activities of national peacekeeping forces. This is the first such exercise. Chief of the CSTO United Staff Lieutenant-General Alexander Studenikin attended the opening ceremony. He is in charge of the first stage of Unbreakable Brotherhood 2013. Peacekeeping is a priority area of CSTO activities in terms of collective security.

Construction of the Central Reference Lab of Kazakhstan’s Scientific Centre of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases in Almaty will be completed in September 2015. The lab will be launched under the aegis of the U.S. Defence Department. The project is worth over $102 million. The Pentagon finances the construction of the facility via the Defence Threat Reduction Agency. The laboratory is aimed at researching plague viruses as well as cholera, malignant anthrax and other dangerous infections and will study their spread and methods of prevention. This research is currently being performed by the Scientific Centre of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases, which has been operating since 1949. The new lab will replace the outdated laboratories and storage facilities of the centre with modern, earthquake-resistant facilities. The lab is being constructed in accordance with international security standards to prevent the release of the hazardous infections into the environment, as well as their theft by terrorists.

The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan will continue issuing visas to Kazakhstan citizens. The embassy and the general consulate are continuing their work, diplomats say. The issue of possible suspension of operations at the embassy and the consulate and the possibility that the embassy would not be able to continue issuing visas to Kazakhstan citizens were raised after the U.S. government suspended financing of federal services, essentially shutting down its government. On Aug. 1, 2013, the U.S. Consulate started issuing five-year visas to Kazakhstan citizens, the first people in Central Asia to receive visas of that length. During the past four years, Kazakhstan citizens applying for U.S. visas have no longer had to come to the embassy for interviews, but simply mailed their applications and documents. The visa procedures have not changed with the change of the visa term and consular fees have been lowered to $160.

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