Cultural, Economic Cooperation with UNESCO, OECD Discussed during Top Level Visit to Paris

ASTANA – Gulshara Abdykalikova, Kazakhstan’s secretary of state, discussed potential avenues for expanding the country’s economic and cultural cooperation with international organisations during her visit to Paris on April 15–16.

11121492_630280037107902_1277772920556980734_oAbdykalikova, who is the highest ranked woman in modern Kazakhstan’s history, visited the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), where she met with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

The two officials noted the high level of cooperation between Kazakhstan and UNESCO, as well as Kazakhstan’s commitment to UNESCO’s goals and principles. As quoted by the press service of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bokova said she highly appreciates the support from Kazakhstan’s leadership in funding numerous programmes, as well as the country’s active participation in UNESCO activities.

Kazakhstan became a member of UNESCO in May 1992. The country attaches great importance to the implementation of programmes aimed at the promotion and protection of the national and world cultural and natural heritage and the promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence. The International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures 2013–2022 under the auspices of UNESCO, initiated by Kazakhstan, has been considered an important contribution to the promotion of harmony among cultures, civilisations and peoples.

The art of playing the dombra kui and the manufacturing techniques for making Kazakh and Kyrgyz yurts were included on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2014. Earlier, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi; the petroglyphs of the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly; the Silk Road and Sary-Arka, the steppes and lakes of Northern Kazakhstan; and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (Korgalzhyn, Alakol, Akzhayik and Katon Karagai) were also added to this list.

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During the conversation with Bokova, Abdykalikova outlined measures taken by the government of Kazakhstan to develop education, science and culture, as well as to ensure gender equality. Abdykalikova, a former head of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy, was instrumental in developing and implementing a national strategy for gender equality for 2006–2016.

She also briefed Bokova on the activities of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), a constitutional body comprising representatives of ethnic associations which is empowered to nominate nine deputies into the national parliament’s lower chamber. In April and throughout the year, Kazakhstan is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the APK, which was established in 1995.

In Paris, Abdykalikova also met with Director General of the Campus France educational agency Antoine Grassen, President of the Sorbonne Paris Cité Association of Universities Jean-Yves Mérindol and with Marek Halter, a public figure, who initiated the establishment of University Sorbonne-Kazakhstan in 2014. During these meetings, issues of the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan, the first French university in Central Asia, were discussed, and the parties agreed to organise this year the next Inter-University Forum in Paris or in Astana with the participation of the heads of leading universities of the two countries.

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On April 15, the secretary of state also attended a ceremony to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first book by Korkyt Ata and the 70thanniversary of UNESCO. As part of the event, the Symphony Orchestra of the Kazakh National University of Arts presented Korkyt’s famous works.Abdykalikova noted that the image of Korkyt is considered a golden bridge for the cultural and spiritual traditions of the Turkic people throughout Eurasia. She also added that “the book of Korkyt Ata is not only the heritage of Turkic peoples, but also the wealth of all mankind.”

The next day Abdykalikova met with Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Mari Kiviniemi and head of the Secretariat of Global Connections Marcos Bonturi. They discussed the dynamic development of cooperation in all areas, which includes, among others, the implementation of projects under the Country Programme Partnership between Kazakhstan and the OECD signed last January.

Abdykalikova emphasised the development of the social sphere in Kazakhstan, in particular, health, education, gender policy and the exchange of statistical data. She expressed an interest in the development by the Kazakh side of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President and the OECD.

“The development strategy for gender equality for 2006–2016 provides for the economic participation of women in SMEs and large infrastructure projects. Now, I can say that 50 percent of the SME sector is made up of women,” Abdykalikova said in the interview with EFE news agency. Abdykalikova also told the news agency that Kazakhstan has set a target of 30 percent for the representation of women in political decision-making posts, while 20 percent of its Parliament is already comprised of women.

While in Paris, the secretary of state also discussed the upcoming presidential election. “We expect more than 400 international observers to be present in these elections,” she told EFE, referring to the number of observers from the OSCE expected for the April 26 poll.

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