ASTANA – Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov hosted what should have been a traditional, but became the first-ever meeting with honorary consuls of foreign countries accredited in Kazakhstan.
During the session, Idrissov noted the special role honorary consuls play in establishing effective cooperation between Kazakhstan and other countries.
According to the “Dictionary of Diplomacy,” “honour” is a term which has often been associated with vital interests, as in the phrase “honour and vital interests,” has been used to indicate the matter in question is one with grave importance, he noted.
“You are active citizens of our country, to whom foreign countries have entrusted the promotion of their trade and economic interests with Kazakhstan; therefore, successful bilateral cooperation in various spheres in many respects depends on you,” Idrissov said.
There are currently 39 honorary consuls, including 32 citizens of Kazakhstan, who live and work in the country. Idrissov placed great emphasis on the role of the institute of honorary consuls, whose members have dual status: Kazakh citizenship and the confidence of foreign countries to promote their trade, economic and business interests.
“You, as citizens of Kazakhstan, are making your own contribution to the development of the country; but as honorable representatives of foreign countries, you are able to make a significant contribution towards the strengthening of the relations among our nations,” he noted. Idrissov also highlighted that traditional diplomacy has given way to modern, dynamic diplomacy concerned with economic policy questions.
The main purpose of the meeting was to establish close, direct contacts with foreign honorary consuls. Idrissov said the foreign ministry is ready to provide necessary assistance for the effective and meaningful work of honorary consuls and proposed creating regular exchange of information on priority projects and sectors of interest to foreign countries.
Kazakhstan is at an important stage of the country’s modernisation, which is based on the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and to which the Nurly Zhol programme has given significant impetus. The minister compared Nurly Zhol to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal enacted in the United States from 1933-1938, as both programmes were launched to combat financial and economic crises.
According to Idrissov, honorary consuls have an opportunity to use their positions as instruments of trust from the represented countries to disseminate information on the positive changes taking place in Kazakhstan and the achievements of the country. In addition, he stressed the importance of targeting direct contact with the foreign ministry and partners in the economic bloc, the national export and investment agency Kaznex Invest .
The minister urged participants to actively contribute to the arrival of foreign business delegations in Kazakhstan. He also stressed the importance of the collaborative effort to promote wider participation of foreign countries in the international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017 and the advancement of Kazakhstan’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2017-2018.
“Kazakhstan has much to offer on nuclear, water, energy and food security. Non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council will give the country a new status,” added Idrissov.
Sergey Tereschenko, a former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan who now serves as honorary consul of Israel, said Israel also practices this form of cooperation between the foreign ministries and honorary consuls in that country. He noted he and his colleagues were working to attract high technologies in agriculture, medicine and other fields from Israel and asked if it was possible to further facilitate the visa regime. In response, the minister said the list of visa-free countries will be expanded from the current number of 10 countries and said plans are underway to increase to 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) countries in advance of the creation of an international financial centre in Astana.
Nurlan Smagulov, a businessman with interests in retail and cars and the recently-appointed Honorary Consul of New Zealand, spoke about the great desire of New Zealanders to visit Kazakhstan. He also noted the popularity of higher education institutions of New Zealand, particularly in agriculture, because both countries have similarities in the fields.
In conclusion, the minister expressed hope that the format of the meeting will become a tradition in the future. Honorary consuls were also invited to the July 3 launch of the Diplomatic Business Club.