National news in brief

Speaking at the sixth Congress of Judges of Kazakhstan in mid-November, President Nursultan Nazarbayev called for the intensification of reform efforts in the nation’s justice system, the Akorda press service reported. “It is necessary to intensify reforms of the legal system, especially those of its core components. Improving the competence of our legal system in all of its basic functions is one of the key tasks outlined in the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy. It is crucial to define priority directions and specific mechanisms of large-scale efforts to enhance the image, independence and effectiveness of the judicial system,” he said. The president said that judicial proceedings are unnecessarily drawn out and should be modernised.He charged the Government and asked the Supreme Court with creating a new civil procedure code. “The order of civil trials must be speedy and simple for both sides and focused on the application of advanced technologies,” the President said. He also said that education for judges should be improved and that the courts’ increasing case load is a concern that must be addressed. “In the 21stcentury, one of the most important criteria of national development is an uncompromising and effective judicial system. An independent and fair court is the core of the state,” Nazarbayev said.

Kazakhstan is planning to phase out military conscription and expects to have an almost entirely professionalarmy by 2016, First Deputy Defence Minister Col. Gen. Saken Zhasuzakov said. The number of draftees will be reduced gradually, he said. “This fall, we will dismiss 6,000 and draft 1,500people. In the spring of 2014, we will dismiss another 6,000 and draft another 1,500. That 1,500 will gradually be reduced to 500.” The ministry reported that 7,000 people in Kazakhstan had applied to become contract, or professional service members, this year, which is up from 5,000 in 2012. The country currently maintains a military force of over 100,000 active personnel. Official government sources say 67 percent of their current personnel are contract or professional soldiers.In the last two months, Defence Minister of Kazakhstan Adilbek Dzhaksybekov visited the U.S. and U.K. to discuss current and future military cooperation. With his colleagues, he discussed professional army recruitment and other aspects of the transition.

President Nazarbayev visited a number of facilities in Taraz during his official visit to the city on Nov. 22, the Akorda press service reported. Nazarbayev learned about archeological excavations in the 19th century town of Taraz, which is an archeological site of national importance. Archeological research thereis focused on the excavation of the citadel and the shahrestan of the town this year. The total area of excavations made so far is 2,550 square metres. Many artifacts have been found in the ancient settlement. Presently, the number of ceramic fragments exceeds 33,000 pieces. Of these pieces, 107 were preserved. Archeologists found 33 coins, 26 glass products and 5 bone artifacts. Funds worth100 million tenge (US$654,000) were allocated from the local budget for archeological research. The President also visited a monument for Tole Bi which was erected to celebrate his 350th birthday. The total height of the monument is 10.5 metres. The President also talked to city residents in the square in front of the monument. Nazarbayev also visited the “Zhurek” cardio-surgery clinics. He was familiarized with the surgical and medical departments of the hospital and its modern medical equipment. During his visit to the hospital, the President emphasized the importance of development of both public and private medicine.

Joining the World Trade Organisation will eventually result in restrictions being lifted on foreign capital in the telecommunications industry, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova said at a meeting of the Mazhilis on Nov. 15. To be exact, 2.5 years after accession to the organisation, restrictions on foreign capital in telecommunication companies exceeding 49 percent will be eliminated, except for in the case of KazakhTelecom, the state telecommunications company. Accession will also affect quality and service rates, Aitzhanova said. “Liberalisation of telecommunications and financial services will enhance the quality of these services and reduce prices for consumers,” she said. Five years after WTO accession, foreign banks will be allowed to open branch offices in the country, provided they meet Kazakhstan’s requirements, which include a minimum asset threshold.

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