Diplomatic Dispatch

Dear readers,

During the almost four years that The Astana Times has existed, foreign ambassadors, diplomats and officials at the offices of international organisations in Kazakhstan have been among our keenest readers.

And we have sought to cover their work extensively, by launching a series of interviews with ambassadors, publishing their opinions and the opinions of visiting ministers and other high-level officials.

We intend to continue doing so, as we believe there are numerous great stories that remain untold.

Where we see an even greater untapped source of information is in the area of day-to-day activities of embassies and the interesting cultural, educational, economic and social events they engage in or help plan.

To fill the information gap, so to speak, we are launching a new mini-section called The Diplomatic Dispatch, which will cover exactly these sorts of stories. But we won’t be able to do it alone and we will only be able to do it properly if the embassies and our readers in general fill us in on what’s new and what’s happening in their lives in Kazakhstan.

So we would appreciate your feedback at [email protected]

With best wishes from wintry Astana,

Roman Vassilenko

Editor-in-Chief

P.S. Below is the first Diplomatic Dispatch.

Ambassador Shirish Soni welcomes the guests

Ambassador Shirish Soni welcomes guests at KAZGUU, during the opening of a new library in Astana

The Academic Diplomatic Club Takes Shape

The KAZGUU Academic Diplomatic Club was launched by Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mussinov on May 5, 2014. All heads of mission and diplomats were invited to join the club. Shirish M. Soni, ambassador of South Africa to Kazakhstan, was appointed chairman of the new club.

Since May 5, a series of lectures and seminars have been hosted at KAZGUU, benefiting the students and academics from many universities in Astana. Many heads of missions have delivered lectures and hosted seminars at the university. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov was invited to deliver a lecture on Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and role in multilateral organisations in October. The KAZGUU International Library project was also officially opened by Idrissov. Embassies based in Astana contributed books to stock the international library.

In discussions with heads of missions and stakeholders, it was decided to replicate the initiative in three universities in Almaty: Abylai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages, Al-Farabi National University and KIMEP University. Soni visited all three universities in Almaty on Nov. 17 and concluded very successful meetings with managers and academics there.

The initial discussions with the universities will result in an official launch of the initiative in Almaty and the preparation of a programme of seminars and lectures for 2015 – 2016. According to Soni, all the universities expressed openness to being fully involved in project and identified many areas for joint cooperation with foreign missions and international organisations.

2015 marks 70 years of the United Nations and, according to Soni, celebrations could be planned jointly with stakeholders to hold events to mark the anniversary, including lectures and seminars. In particular, students and academics can discuss the workings of the United Nations. He identified discussions on the Security Council as a topic that will generate a lot of interest in Kazakhstan during 2015.

Another topic identified during the meetings was BRICS. The 7th BRICS Summit of heads of state will be held in July 2015 in Ufa, Bashkortostan, in Russia. In keeping with the tradition set in South Africa during 2013, the BRICS heads of state will also meet with heads of states from the region.

It is intended that detailed consultations will be concluded by the end of December 2014 and the programme will be implemented during 2015 – 16.