Turkmenistanhas completed construction of part of the new Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, the Turkmen government reported after a government inspection of the railway project on July 4. The total length of the large-scale railway, which runs from the Kazakh steppes through Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert to the mountainous Gulistan province in the north of Iran, is 900 kilometres, 700 kilometres of which runs through Turkmen territory. The railway project has been underway since 2007, when a high-level trilateral agreement between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran was signed.
Creating a favourable visa policy aimed at realising the country’s tourist potential and attracting foreign investment by expanding the visa-free zone and improving visa and migration policy is one of the priorities of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Rapil Zhoshybayev told a July 10 Central Communications Service (CCS) media briefing. In 2012, visa procedures were simplified for 48 politically stable and economically developed countries, he reported, and in February, Kazakhstan unilaterally simplified visa procedures for for citizens of 28 EU member states. On June 12, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the unilateral introduction of a visa-free regime for citizens of 10 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Japan. Zhoshybayev reported that a special draft law had been developed in order to implement the project. Under the new law, citizens of these 10 countries may visit Kazakhstan for 15 days without a visa. “A visa-free regime will allow tourism to develop,” Zhoshybayev said. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations, creating favourable conditions for potential investors and foreign businessmen and attracting tourists to Kazakhstan.” There is also no limit on the number of visits an individual may make. “This will also allow Kazakhstan to actively develop the tourism sphere. Besides, a multiplicative effect is expected in the development of small and medium business, creating new jobs and income for the budget,” Zhoshybayev added.