Live Updates from Astana International Forum

ASTANA – As the Astana International Forum (AIF) opens on June 8, The Astana Times offers live updates from the opening ceremony and plenary session of the forum.

Photo credit: Assel Satubaldina/The Astana Times

13:00 – The plenary session has concluded.

12:55  – Alisjahbana called for increased cooperation in coping with global challenges. “There are global and regional issues that affect us all. This is especially true in the world where all aspects of our lives are economically socially and environmentally intertwined. 

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ESCAP. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

12:50  – In her formal address to the AIF, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), dedicated part of her speech to warning of the increasing disparity between countries’s development in different regions, particularly Asia.

Among the members of G20, the world’s major economies, eight are in Asia and the Pacific. Yet, the region is likewise very diverse with more than half of the countries being least developed countries, landlocked developing countries or small island developing states. (…) These countries have far fewer options to counter such exogenous shocks,” she said. 

12:45  – Referring to “unprecedented challenges” in the past two years, Schmid said “These are difficult times indeed for international organizations. Tensions are high, but it is vital to recommit to multilateralism.”

“Our work goes beyond dialogue in Vienna. We continue to do the real benefits every day, making a difference to 1.3 billion people, including in Central Asia. I come from Bishkek and Ashgabat before I arrived here and I can see it with my own eyes,” she added.

12:40  –  Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary General Helga Schmid’s adress reflected Kazakhstan’s important role in OSCE and recalled the Astana Summit back in 2010. She mentioned a Kazakh veteran diplomat Kairat Abdrakhmanov, who serves on an important role as OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.

12:35  –  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General, Audrey Azoulay thanked Kazakhstan and President Tokayev for opening the AIF to issues above and beyond economic cooperation. “Because international cooperation and sustainable financing of public goods such as culture, science, education are absolutely essential to shape our common future, but also shape just and sustainable economies and societies,” she said.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

12:30  – Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov commended cooperation in Central Asia in his speech. “Thanks to strong political will and actions of heads of state of the region, in recent years, a completely new atmosphere of mutual trust was created in Central Asia. This allows addressing even the most complicated regional issues, exclusively though dialogue and compromise,” he said.

12:24  – “Four: make sure that we don’t fragment financially the world, fragment the payment systems in a way that even if we want to integrate, no more we can. In other words, make sure that cross-border systems can talk with each other, can interact with each,” said IMF Managing Director Georgieva. 

12:23 – IMF chief’s third point was to highlight the importance of building gatherers for food and for medicine. “No restrictions when we talk about life-saving flow of goods and services,” she said. 

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

12:20 – According to Georgieva, trade in a multipolar world would be more integrated within regions and within clusters of countries, but it is important to integrate according to World Trade Organization (WTO) standards and rules.

12:17 – IMF chief offered offer several solutions to pragmatic multilateralism that can’t deliver benefits for the majority of the world’s people. One is to unite in the fight against climate change, pandemic, debt and artificial intelligence. “No country or region can succeed on its own,” she said.

12:15 – Speaking at AIF, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, expressed her concerns on a number of trade and foreign direct investment restrictions which have tripled since 2018. 

12:05 – Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željka Cvijanović dedicated her speech to emphasize the importance of multilateral diplomacy. 

“Functional multilateralism cannot exist without a proper environment. That is a system of multipolar balance of power where no actor or group of actors will be able to impose their own rules and attitudes on others and where the level of usual respect and communication is much higher than is the case nowadays,” she said. 

President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Sadyr Japarov. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

“Therefore in this globalized world, it is important to turn to a wider universal platform while at the same time encouraging all forms of regional cooperation,” added Cvijanović speaking at the AIF platform.

11:56 – President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Sadyr Japarov thanked President Tokayev for the invitation and stresses the rising importance of dialogue platforms like AIF in addressing key challenges like climate change and preserving biodiversity. He underlined the increasing importance of regional cooperation.

11:53 – In his concluding remark Tokayev said: “I am optimistic that constructive discussions over the next two days can move us toward potential solutions and further cooperation. Openness, tolerance and compromise are needed to foster meaningful conversation and cooperation.”

11:47 – The Middle Corridor linking China to the European Union, opens up new opportunities for trade and investment, said Tokayev. “This route will almost halve the time it takes to transport goods across the Indian Ocean.”

11:45 – President Tokayev used his platform at the AIF to invite global leaders for new business and economic partnership opportunities in Kazakhstan. 

“Last year, Kazakhstan’s exports increased by almost 40%. Although the energy sector still accounts for a large part of our GDP, our desire to diversify is strengthening. We are seeing growth in industries such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, metal processing, and engineering,” he said.

11:41 – “Kazakhstan has long been a crossroads between East and West, North and South. In many ways this forum corresponds to the culture and history of the great Eurasian steppe. Despite geopolitical turmoil, Kazakhstan continues to serve as the economic engine of Central Asia,” said Tokayev.

11:35 – According to Tokayev, the AIF acts as a global meeting of minds to identify the main challenges and crises, to confront them through dialogue in a spirit of mutual cooperation, to renew and restore a shared culture of multilateralism and to strengthen the voices for peace, progress and solidarity.

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11:32 – “Multilateralism, centered on UN values and principles, is not merely the most effective way to address challenges, it is the only path,” said President Tokayev. 

11:31 – Tokayev proposed to hold the Regional Climate Change summit in 2026 in Kazakhstan under the aegis of the United Nations.

11:30 – Climate change poses the biggest risks, according to Tokayev. He stressed the particular vulnerability of Central Asia to climate change and the rising risks from water scarcity. Water and climate change are closely linked.

11:27 – Tokayev dedicated part of his speech to speak about the reforms taking place in Kazakhstan that are unique for the region. “My credo is strong: law and order. This is a solid basis for building a just and fair Kazakhstan. We have reformed our institutions in a very short period of time, curtailed the powers of the presidency and fought corruption. Contemporary Kazakhstan is different from what it was several years ago,” he said. 

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11:25 – The President emphasized Kazakhstan’s strong commitment to diversification and sustainable economic development. He reminded the forum participants about Kazakhstan’s role in disarmament efforts, and its efforts to settle the Syrian crisis and tackle the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

11:20 – President Tokayev prioritized global cooperation in the face of challenges. “Just as the combination of geopolitical factors push us apart, we face a strong and clear imperative to come together.”

11:15 – Tokayev emphasized the importance of dialogue in a “spirit of mutual cooperation,” renewing and rebuilding a common culture of multilateralism. “In the period of unprecedented geopolitical tensions, promoting peace and prosperity for the many is of paramount importance,” he said. 

11:10 – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev opened the plenary session with welcoming remarks and expressed his gratitude toward the attending heads of states and executives of international organizations.

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