Kazakhstan’s relations with countries of Latin America has seen a major expansion in recent months with mutual visits and exchanges. One such visitor recently was Ruben Dario Florez, Minister-Counsellor of the Colombian Embassy in Russia, concurrently accredited to Kazakhstan. He spoke to The Astana Times about the bilateral relations and his impressions of the country and of Astana.
Is this your first visit to Kazakhstan?
Yes, it is my first visit to Kazakhstan and my first impression of Astana.
What do think of our capital?
I am really amazed with the project of the city. It is a powerful project. I think this city and its architecture shows the dynamism and achievements of the economic and cultural spheres. Also, it seems to me that Astana combines different traditions and different cultures. These cultures are coming from the origins of the Kazakh culture, from the origins of your identity, since it is a young nation.
On the other hand, the desire of the Kazakh people for a dialogue with the East and the West can be perceived. In my view, it is successfully transmitted through the visual appearance of the high-rise towers, and through the new Astana Opera building. The city expresses the spirit of the modernity and the spirit of the antiquity of the nation.
I am honoured to be in the centre of the Eurasian space. Your President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, expressed a very deep thought when he built the capital here in Astana, because every nation in the world looks at its roots and strengthens them. But, on the other hand, it is open for dialogue with other nations and cultures. Affirming a desire for evolution is a very important factor in the modern world.
How do you know Russian so well? You speak it almost like your native language.
Firstly, Russian is a language of communication and unity, a means of dialogue in the Eurasian space. Secondly, it is a very graceful language.
Have you been studying Kazakh?
Yes, I have already started. The sound of certain letters attracts me, and certainly the concept of the Kazakh language talks about the identity of your culture.
Please tell us about current relations between Kazakhstan and Colombia.
In my view, our relations are at a very good level, so we can be proud and glad. Diplomatic dialogue is building on different levels, including cultural, political and economic [levels]. Each of these spheres of collaboration is a special achievement. The first export to Kazakhstan from Colombia was salsa dancing. I think that our Kazakh friends liked it.
Last year, we had a high-level political and diplomatic dialogue. The deputy foreign minister of Colombia Patti Londonio took part in a video conferencewith Kazakh diplomats. So, in my point of view, our relations have a great future. Mainly because Kazakhstan is open: open to other cultures in the same way Colombia is. Our nation has got Indian, Spanish and Afro-Colombian heritage. The Kazakh culture also has a mix of eastern cultures and ancient cultures. This makes a good foundation for our cooperation.
Another important point is the position and principles of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Tolerance, evolution, openness and intention for integration characterise your country. Kazakhstan recognised that modern world is multipolar. Colombia shares these positions with Kazakhstan.
As you know, Kazakhstan has proposed its candidacy for a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. Has Colombia determined its position?
At the moment, I cannot say; it concerns talks on a higher level. But from my perspective, I can see that there is a strong intention between the government of our country and the government of Kazakhstan to strengthen our dialogue and cooperation.