DOHA – Kanat Saudabayev, Director of the Nursultan Nazarbayev Foundation for Culture, Education and Social Programmes and Dr. Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Muraikhi, Director General of the Qatar Development Fund, signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation Sept. 4 between the two foundations.
Saudabayev presented his counterpart with a project for construction of a rehabilitation centre in Semey for victims of nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk test site and those affected by radiation in one way or another.
“The project we are presenting to you today is of high importance and would make Qatar actively join the world process of non-proliferation and disarmament as well as positively reflect on your country’s image internationally,” Saudabayev said.
In turn, Al Muraikhi thanked the foundation director and expressed his deep interest in visiting Kazakhstan and the city of Semey in particular.
Both parties exchanged views on the possible implementation of this joint project and considered it as the first step of mutually-beneficial cooperation. Despite the differences in weather, the parties also agreed there are many fields of mutual interest for collaboration and much in common between the two countries. On the day the two met, for example, the temperature in Doha exceeded 45 degrees Celsius and the humidity, as usual, was very high, while the people in Astana are getting ready for five months of winter, when the temperature could drop to minus 45 degrees Celsius.
On the same day, Saudabayev met with Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar.
Foreign Minister al Attiyah underlined that the fact that one of the first visits Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the new Emir of Qatar, paid to Astana shows the priority of relations with Kazakhstan for the Arab country,.
“I truly respect President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakhstan as well and am confident that all the projects we put together will have positive results and further expand cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
Al Attiyah also emphasised the leadership of the Kazakh President in the international non-proliferation and nuclear threat reduction process and expressed the willingness of Qatar to take part in the joint project to construct the rehabilitation centre in Semey.
The parties underlined the priority of the project, as they are aware of the large number of people who are in need of medical treatment.
A total of 456 nuclear tests were conducted at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, causing suffering to 1.5 million people. The United Nations declared Aug. 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests, the very day in 1991 Nazarbayev shut down the Semipalatinsk test site, one of the biggest in the world. However, babies are still born with defects or other health problems.
The United Nations General Assembly, paying due attention to the issue, adopted a resolution in 1997 calling on member states for special economic assistance as well as highlighting the importance of international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation of the Semey region. In subsequent years, the UN General Assembly passed five more resolutions on the issue urging consistent international attention to the problems of the Semey area.