ASTANA — Kazakhstan and the State of Kuwait celebrated the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year. According to Omar Alkanderi, the Ambassador of Kuwait, who has been serving in Kazakhstan for over a year, Kuwait has supported Kazakhstan’s independence and sovereignty from the beginning.
In an interview with The Astana Times, Alkanderi discussed the Kazakh-Kuwait bilateral relations and the outcomes of the first Gulf Cooperation Council-Central Asian countries summit, held in July in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Kazakh – Kuwaiti bilateral relations
According to Alkanderi, the first visit to Kuwait in 1997 of the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the initial milestone in bilateral relations.
“Through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), our country assisted Kazakhstan with the construction of the Kazakh Agriculture Ministry during the creation of Astana as the capital,” Alkanderi said.
KFAED was also part of the water supply project to the Aral Sea region and assisted in establishing the International Atomic Energy Agency Low Enriched Uranium Bank
Both countries believe that nuclear energy should only be used for peaceful purposes. Alkanderi noted that Kazakhstan and Kuwait have a lot in common regarding how they tackle global issues.
“Kuwait and Kazakhstan share many similarities, including how they conduct their foreign policy. Both countries strive for global cooperation and collaborative solutions to global problems. They also serve as a mediator in conflict resolution between other countries,” he said.
Alkanderi said Kuwait convened three conferences of Syria’s donor countries, while Astana has played a significant role in resolving the Syrian conflict through the Astana Process conducted in the Kazakh capital till this year.
The ambassador mentioned Kazakhstan’s initiative to host the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which, in his view, facilitates a frank discussion of the necessity of interfaith communication and combating global terrorism.
Kuwait also became the 28th member of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced Kuwait’s acceptance during CICA’s sixth meeting in October last year. The ambassador expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan for this decision.
In the trade and economic sphere, Kazakhstan and Kuwait signed several intergovernmental agreements, including on trade and economic cooperation, the agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, and the memorandum on consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries.
“I want to note that we are in the process of completing the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. I am confident this will create a solid basis for further cooperation between the two countries,” Alkanderi added.
Cooperation within Gulf-Central Asia Framework
The ambassador noted that as the largest country in Central Asia, Kazakhstan can play a crucial role in building solid cooperation between the region and the Gulf countries.
“We had the idea to bring together the Gulf and the countries of Central Asia. This year, this idea was realized in July when the first summit of the heads of the countries of Central Asia and the Gulf took place. We have tremendous hopes for this intraregional cooperation,” Alkanderi said.
On the summit’s sidelines, President Tokayev met with Kuwait’s Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. They both stressed the importance of consolidating cooperation in all priority areas, emphasizing the massive potential for developing trade, economic, investment, and tourism ties.
According to Alkanderi, Kuwait anticipates closer collaboration between the countries of both regions and believes that this will significantly enhance communication on a global scale.
“At the last summit, we created a mechanism for cooperation at the interregional level. The summit will be held regularly now, with the next one in Uzbekistan,” he said.
Alkanderi pointed out that Kazakhstan has a strategic geographical location. The countries collaborate in many areas, including energy and food security. However, he believes that trade turnover is yet to reach its full potential. Kuwait is taking every measure to make it happen.
Regarding people-to-people exchange, Alkanderi highlighted that Kuwaiti citizens no longer require a visa to visit Kazakhstan, which has increased the flow of tourists and visitors. Direct flights between Kuwait City and Almaty facilitate the promotion of human exchange, the ambassador said.
“This allows our people to learn about the culture and the country and facilitates the promotion of economic cooperation,” Alkanderi concluded.