Kazakhstan welcomed the holding of the presidential election in Ukraine on May 25 which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Astana said “ensured the expression of the will of the citizens of the country in the presence of observers from the OSCE and other international organizations.” According to the foreign ministry, “The vote was an important step towards the normalization of the situation in Ukraine. Kazakhstan hopes that the election will contribute to the development of a comprehensive national dialogue and the taking into account of interests of all political forces and regions of the country in the ongoing constitutional reform, as well as strengthen the peace and harmony in Ukraine. We respect the choice of the Ukrainian people and will consistently support the efforts of the international community aimed at strengthening political stability, consolidation of society, further economic and democratic development of Ukraine.”
A panel discussion on enhancing public participation in local self-governance with a particular focus on citizens’ involvement in developing and implementing local budgets took place on May 21 at the seventh Astana Economic Forum (AEF). It was co-organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s centre in Astana, the Embassy of Poland and the Polish Foundation for Local Democracy Development. Some 80 representatives of the Ministries of Regional Development and Economy and Budget Planning, local authorities, nongovernmental and international organisations and academia as well as AEF participants from various countries took part in the event to discuss the progress and challenges of the first stage of the reform of local self-governance in Kazakhstan. Experts from Kazakhstan, Poland and the United Kingdom addressed issues of budget development in rural areas as a key element of local self-governance. Participants in the discussion stressed the importance of the step-by-step decentralisation of the decision-making process in the country. They also noted the need to introduce an effective model of local self-governance based on best international practices, local traditions and the requirements of Kazakhstan’s current national legislation. The event was part of the centre’s long-term efforts to promote and support good governance.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama discussed key aspects of bilateral cooperation in trade and the economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian spheres on May 24. The parties also discussed current international issues. Nazarbayev noted that Kazakhstan has a strong interest in establishing relations with Albania. “In general, for our country, Europe is a major economic partner, but we have no special relationship with Albania. Unfortunately, between our two countries, the basic documents of economic cooperation have not been signed. I hope that your visit will begin negotiations in this direction. It is necessary to sign agreements on economic cooperation, mutual protection of investments, the avoidance of double taxation and a visa regime. This will create a foundation for the joint work of our companies,” the President said. Rama noted that the two countries have many cultural similarities. The Albanian prime minister agreed with the need to develop relations in economy and trade, taking into account the existing potential. He also noted the importance of establishing effective cooperation within various international organisations.
Kazakh Minister of Agriculture Assylzhan Mamytbekov called on Central Asian countries to use water resources consistently throughout the year at the Astana Economic Forum on May 22. “Cooperation between the countries of Central Asia in the use of water resources, especially transboundary rivers, is very important,” Mamytbekov said at a panel session entitled “Addressing the challenges in adapting agriculture to climate change.” According to him, the rational use of the Syrdarya River is very important. “Here, unfortunately, we do not always see consistent use. Countries that are in the upper reaches of the river use water resources as an energy source for electricity generation. However, the electricity is mainly needed in the winter, so this water, which generates electricity, falls into the sands of the Aral Sea and goes to waste. At the same time in the summer these countries accumulate water in tanks to use next winter as a source of energy,” the minister said. He noted that in circumstances where there is a deficit of water, “it is necessary to raise issues of modern technology, such as leveling rice fields or cotton fields or the use of vertical and horizontal drains.”
First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev met Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin on the sidelines of the international exhibition of arms and military equipment, KADEX 2014, in Astana on May 22. The sides discussed issues of bilateral cooperation in the military-technical, space and social spheres. They also discussed the use of test sites in Kazakhstan, implementing the road map for the shared use of the Baikonur Space Complex and the development of Baikonur town and the Akai and Toretam settlements. The officials noted the need to further deepen cooperation across the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.