Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Ashikbayev, acting as a special envoy of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, visited several countries in Africa beginning on July 22.
During the visit, he went to Senegal, Côte d’Ivoireand Benin where he took part in the Ministerial Conference on New Partnerships for Productive Capacity Building in the Least Developed Countries (LDC). The purpose of the visits was to intensify bilateral cooperation and search for common ground, the expansion of political, economic, cultural and humanitarian contacts.
Kazakhstan believes that the opinion of African countries has important meaning when discussing global issues, especially in areas such as finding a way out of the protracted economic crisis, a more equitable global financial system, real assistance in solving the problems of unemployment, health, education and the environment.
Kazakhstan attaches great importance to South-South cooperation, which has great potential for addressing issues related to poverty eradication and economic inequality in the Least Developed Countries, especially in Africa, its officials say. The republic is interested in developing friendly and mutually beneficial relations with the African continent, including with Senegal, an important partner in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Astana is an active supporter of the cooperation of the OIC and the African Union in questions of conflict resolution in Africa, providing inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue, poverty eradication, illiteracy and in the combating of various diseases and epidemics.
During Ashikbayev’s to Senegal, while giving an exclusive interview to the African Press Agency in Dakar, he said the long distance between thetwo countries was not an impediment to the bilateral cooperation Kazakhstan is seeking to pursue with Senegal. The diplomat said that the motive of his mission was to further stimulate diplomatic and consular relations between the two countries.
Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Senegal began in 2008 when a Kazakh delegation headed by Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan and then Minister of Foreign Affairs Marat Tazhin took part in the 11th OIC Summit in Senegal in March 2008. On the sidelines of the summit, the parties signed a protocol on establishing diplomatic relations.
In Senegal, Ashikbayev met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mankeur Ndiaye.
Ashikbayev explained that shortly after independence in 1991, Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product per capita was $700. That number has grown to $14,000 in the last 22 years. He also expressed optimism that Senegal can achieve similar success through cooperation with Kazakhstan.
During the interviewwith the African Press Agency,the diplomat described the Israeli-Palestinian ongoing conflict as terrible and expressed the hope that the two sides could immediately cease hostilities and work towards a peaceful coexistence between two independent states.
On July 25, Ashikbayev also met with the Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire. At the meeting, Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister reported that Kazakhstan intends to build a partnership of friendship and cooperation in the long term, which will serve as a model for relations between Kazakhstan and countries of Western Africa.
The main purpose of the meeting was to promote Kazakhstan’s candidacy to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018.
“As you know, Kazakhstan announced its candidacy to become anon-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. Let me present toyou a personal message from President Nursultan Nazarbayev asking for your country’s support, said Ashikbayev.
“We are grateful to Côte d’Ivoire for the support of Astana’s candidacy to host the international specialised exhibition EXPO-2017, which is a testament to the high level of trust between our two countries,” he added.
Diplomatic relations with the Côte d’Ivoire were established May 25, 2009 during the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation in Damascus, Syria.
On July 29 in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, Ashikbayev took part in the Ministerial Conference on New Partnerships for Productive Capacity Building in the LDCs, which is an important platform for dialogue to enable interested countries, together with the private sector and civil society, to discuss important issues of development.
Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Benin were established on Sept. 13, 2011.
“We commend the active role of Benin as Chair of the Group of the Least Developed Countries and its contribution in promoting the interests of the LDCs at the United Nations and in other global forums,” said the diplomat.
“We believe that the conference will identify new and innovative partnerships to support the efforts of the LDCs to strengthen their productive capacity based on an analysis of the different factors that affect productive capacity in the LDCs, including the promotion of green and blue economies in terms of skill development, innovation and technological acquisition,” he added.
During the conference, Ashikbayev noted that Kazakhstan is making a significant contribution to the implementation of the agreements reached at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20 in 2012.
In accordance with the Rio+20 Outcome Document, The Future We Want, Kazakhstan has developed constituent documents of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme, which are based on the decisions of the Sixth Conference of Ministers of Environment, Economy and Social Protection in Asia and the Pacific (Astana, 2010) and the Seventh Pan-European Ministerial Conference titled, Environment for Europe (Astana, 2011).
Ashikbayev presented an active position for Kazakhstan in supporting a green economy and introduced to participants the Green Bridge Partnership Programme (GBPP), which was the only cross-regional initiative supported by the conference.
According to the Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs,the Green Bridge Partnership Programme brings together governments, international organisations and private businesses to find transnational solutions to sustainable growth. It is also intended to provide a platform to discuss and disseminate the best available green technologies and best green practices. Kazakhstan’s initiative has been supported by a number of countries. Last September at the International Conference on the Green Bridge Partnership Programme held in Astana, countries such as Germany, Finland, the Russian Federation, Georgia, Latvia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Montenegro signed the programme’s charter and joined the programme. Thus, political support was demonstrated for the official launch of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme. This year, Hungary signed the programme’s charter, while Spain, Sweden, Armenia and Bulgaria have expressed their readiness to join the programme.
“The internationally recognised Green Bridge Partnership Programme aims to combine the efforts of countries of the region, and beyond, to promote green economic growth with neighboring and more distant countries. The programme hopes to achieve this through international cooperation, technology transfer, knowledge sharing and financial support from major financial institutions and the private sector. We are of the firm conviction that the programme can contribute to the sustainable development of LDCs, and so warmly invite all those interested to join the programme,” explainedAshikbayev.
He also introduced at the meeting in formation concerning the upcoming international exposition EXPO 2017 in Astana. He said in his speech that the exhibition will serve to highlight energy and environmental issues and attract the world’s best expertise on energy-saving technologies and alternative energy solutions, with an emphasis on inclusiveness, social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication. EXPO 2017 will allow visitors to experience a future world with cleaner, affordable and reliable energy.
“EXPO 2017 provides a new horizon for the world with regard to its energy future with new potential and possibilities. Availing this opportunity, we invite all governments– the participants of this conference– to be with us at EXPO 2017 in Astana,” said Ashikbayev.
Ashikbayev concluded his speech by wishing the conference’s participants productive and useful deliberations, resulting in the elaboration of significant practical recommendations to contribute to green and blue growth in the Least Developed Countries.