Kazakh Flags to be Carried to North Pole

ASTANA – The first Kazakhstan ski expedition to the North Pole will carry three flags – the national flag, the flag of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK) which marks its 20th anniversary this year, and the flag designed specifically as part of the country’s bid to win a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2017-2018.

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The expedition is being organised by the Kazakh Geographical Society (KazGeo), with support from the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK), the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and Kazakhstan Bloggers’ Alliance. The news was announced by the three organisations at a March 19 press conference held in Astana.

“One of the expedition’s tasks is to popularise the assembly values abroad,” said APK Deputy Chairman Yeraly Tugzhanov. KazGeo announced their project was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of APK, as well as to support the country’s bid for the UN Security Council seat.

Chairman of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Committee for International Information Roman Vassilenko welcomed the KazGeo project. He noted that in 2013, President Nursultan Nazarbayev decided that the nation’s strengthened position within the international community would allow its contribution to regional and global security to move to a new level through its bid for the UN seat. Should the seat be granted, Astana will have the opportunity to promote its international initiatives from this important platform, where decisions are made that influence global peace and security, he noted.

At the end of the press conference, the expedition organisers were presented with the flags of Kazakhstan and the APK, as well as the flag specially designed for the UN bid. The team plans to fly from Almaty to Oslo on March 31 and then to Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. There they will finish preparations for the expedition, train in a base camp and conduct final equipment checks. The team will fly five days later to an ice runaway, where the ski expedition will kick off some 200 kilometres from the North Pole.

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The team estimates it will take seven to twelve days to reach its destination, with the need to surpass ice faults and ice pressure ridges (hummocks). The organisers hope that the expedition will help to highlight the achievements and core values celebrated by Kazakhstan as the country marks 550 years of nationhood, 70 years since the defeat of Nazism in the Second World War and 20 years of APK and the Constitution.

Additionally, the expedition will have a scientific component as Kazakh researchers will be taking DNA samples from residents in Norway for later study to determine the existence of common roots of the Norwegians and people in central Eurasia.

Earlier this year, Norwegian scholars travelled to various cities in Kazakhstan to collect DNA samples as part of a wider multinational research project also involving a leading Danish laboratory.

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