External news in brief

Kazakhstan’s Partnership for Peace training centre has earned the United Nations certification that will allow it to train and prepare peace officers from around the world. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, has signed the relevant document. The Almaty training centre was visited in December by representatives of the UN Peacekeeping Department, who evaluated its material and technical capability, instructors, programme content and compliance with UN standards. The centre offers language and specialised courses to teach students the principles, goals and basic practices of peacekeeping operations. Many graduates serve on peace keeping missions.

The Kazakh expedition In the Footsteps of Ancestors arrived in Jordan to study the legacy of mamluks and Kipchak tribes there. Scientists believe the tribes inhabited the country in the 13th century and played an important role in building relations between the Muslim and Christian world. The expedition visited the Ajloun and Karak castles. “This castle is a strategic object located in the south of Jerusalem and Damascus. Kipchak mamluks hailing from the Great Steppe ruled this territory. Our ancestors owned several fortifications in this area, and this is the most important for them. Sultan Beibarys ordered the construction of several towers in this castle,” said expedition head Sapar Iskakov. Before Jordan, the expedition visited India, Egypt, the United States, South Korea, China and Ukraine.

Kazakhstan will for the first time take part in the Tata Steel Chess tournament, one of the most prestigious and oldest events in the international chess calendar. This year’s tournament is being held from Jan. 11 to 27 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. Prominent Kazakh chess player Dinara Saduakassova, international master and women’s grandmaster, ranked 17th in the world among women, will represent the country at the tournament that has brought chess veterans and young talents together since 1937. She will compete in the Challengers group with 14 of the most promising chess talents from around the globe. “It is a great honour for me to receive an invitation to this elite tournament… and play against world’s strongest grandmasters. The average rating is quite high at 2,582. I hope I will be able to perform at my best and achieve the best result,” said Saduakassova.

Kazakhstan was ranked 57th in the Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) released by the Boston Consulting Group. The steppe nation was followed by Argentina (58), Russia (59), and Georgia (60). The ranking examined 152 countries based on data collected from 2007 to 2016 to analyse their performance in converting economic growth into well-being of their citizens. Well-being is analysed based on 10 dimensions grouped in three categories. These include economics (income, economic stability, employment), investments (education, health, infrastructure) and sustainability (environment, equality, a strong civil society, sound governance). Kazakhstan’s performance was highest in economic stability (86.9) and equality (89.3).

Open Asia Magazine and SOAS University of London organised a round table in London that explored Kazakhstan’s record as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council during 2017 and 2018. Among Astana’s central tenets were nuclear non-proliferation, peace in Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism. “Kazakhstan was able to steer the body to undertake its first high-level visit to Afghanistan since 2010, highlighting the links between security and development. With regard to non-proliferation, Kazakhstan was uniquely placed to tackle the issue. Having inherited the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, Kazakhstan gave it up for a seat at the international table and financial incentives, thus enabling it to present a positive model for approaches to North Korea which accentuate the carrot over the stick,” said Stephen M. Bland, award-winning author and journalist specialising on Central Asia. Shahid Qureshi, editor-in-chief at The London Post and expert on Central Asian affairs, emphasised the important role non-permanent members play by bringing different perspectives to the table.