News Digest: Foreign Media on Kazakhstan’s New Government, Almaty Apples, Tazy Dogs at Élysée and More

ASTANA – The Astana Times has selected articles on Kazakhstan published in international media. This week’s foreign media digest covers Kazakhstan’s new government, birthplace of the apple – Almaty, two national Tazy dog breed puppies presented to Emmanuel Macron, and more.

Almaty apples. Photo credit: ipra.

Kazakhstan’s President names chief of staff as new premier

Kazakhstan’s President appointed his chief of staff Olzhas Bektenov to the post of Prime Minister following the resignation of the previous cabinet, reported Bloomberg on Feb. 6.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed an order filling the position after securing support from Parliament. Yerlan Koshanov, the chairman of the ruling Amanat party and leader of the lower house of Parliament, nominated Bektenov for the role, according to a statement on the President’s website.

Creative industries: leap towards sustainable development in Kazakhstan

Backed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Kazakhstan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Information and Almaty Management University (AlmaU) held a series of training sessions on creative industries on Feb. 5-7 in Astana, reported UNDP press service on Feb. 8.

Opening the event, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan, Katarzyna Wawiernia, emphasized the importance of creative industries for sustainable development.

“Creative industries account for more than 3% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and employ more than 6% of the working population. Kazakhstan has immense capacity in this regard. As we operate in various regions, we observe a wealth of talented young individuals with huge potential and vision. I believe that they are the driving force of Kazakhstan`s sustainable future,” she said.

Kazakhstan extends quota six months for transporting 100,000 tons of oil per month to Germany

Kazakhstan has extended its agreement to transport 100,000 tons of oil per month to Germany for six additional months, from January through June, reported Interfax on Feb. 6, citing the KazMunayGas (KMG) press service.

KMG said that its chairman of the board, Magzum Mirzagaliyev, met with Johannes Bremmer, the chairman of the board of Rosneft Deutschland (now under German federal government control).

“The parties discussed their main areas of cooperation, noting that in 2023, 993,000 tons of Kazakh oil (from resources belonging to Karachaganak Petroleum Operating) were transported via the Druzhba oil pipeline to Germany. This agreement was extended for six months (January-June 2024) with a transportation volume of 100,000 tons per month,” the release says.

It noted that Bremmer was highly appreciative, and expressed gratitude to the Kazakh side for the support it has provided.

Kazakhstan’s economy forecast to grow by 5.3% in 2024

In 2023, Kazakhstan began to focus on sustainable development. Last year’s economic growth was 5.1%, and in 2024, the government forecasts growth of at least 5.3%, reported The Times of Central Asia on Feb. 5, citing the Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service.

All major economic sectors showed positive dynamics in 2023: construction grew by 13.3%, trade by 11.3%, information and communication services by 7.1%, transport services by 6.9%, and industry by 4.3%.

Between January and September 2023, the volume of foreign direct investment totaled $19.7 billion, including more than $11 billion to non-resource sectors.

From January-November 2023, Kazakhstan’s foreign trade turnover increased by 2.2% and reached $126 billion, with exports exceeding imports by $16 billion.

Greyhounds from Kazakhstan: the Macron couple welcomed two new dogs at the Élysée

BFM TV, a French news broadcast television and radio network, published an article on Feb. 7 about two Tazy Greyhounds, a breed of Kazakh dogs, that were presented to Emmanuel Macron by his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his visit to Kazakhstan in early November 2023.

President Macron named the puppies Jules and Jeanne. They joined the company of the presidential couple’s black Labrador, Nemo, who was adopted from an animal shelter in 2017.

Jules and Jeanne were observed at the end of Emmanuel Macron’s press conference organized on Jan. 16 in the community hall of the Élysée. They rushed, accompanied by Nemo, into the next room, the ambassadors’ lounge, where Emmanuel Macron had gathered the members of the government, causing the latter’s surprise,” the article reads.

Did you know that all the apples we eat come from just one place in the world?

Germany’s Daswetter online platform published an article on Jan. 31 on the birthplace of the modern apple – Almaty.

“Around 8,000 years ago, Neolithic farmers grew wild apples in what is now Asia. Many believe that it comes from North America, but that is not true because it only came to America in the 15th century. The truth is that apples come from Asia, specifically what is now Kazakhstan, east of the Caspian Sea. The city of Almaty, located in the south of the country near the Kyrgyz border, is central to this history. Its name even means ‘father of apples’,” the article reads.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian biologist Nikolai Vavilov first discovered the genome of the apple in an apple orchard near Almaty, a small town whose wild apples are almost indistinguishable from the Golden Delicious (cultivar of apple) sold in supermarkets today. Vavilov visited Almaty and was astonished to see wild apple trees tightly intertwined and at irregular intervals – a phenomenon found nowhere else in the world, according to Russian and East European Studies.

Kazakhstan appoints a new government

Olzhas Bektenov is Kazakhstan’s new Prime Minister, but he will work with a similar ministerial team as his predecessor, according to the appointments that followed, reported The Diplomat on Feb. 7

“Bektenov, 43, has had a long experience in the country’s judicial system, having worked in the ministry of justice as well as in the anti-corruption agency. Most recently, since April 2023, he had served as head of the presidential administration, a powerful position in Kazakhstan’s President-centered political system,” the article reads.

Alongside Bektenov, only four ministers changed, despite earlier rumors that there would be a major reshuffle.

EU to invest 10 billion euros in Middle Corridor

An article released by the Rail Freight online platform on Feb. 8 reports that the European Union (EU) is allocating 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) for the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor. It has identified 33 infrastructure projects to be financed, including many rail projects. The EU hopes to create an alternative transport route that circumvents Russian infrastructure.

“The EU has identified 33 hard infrastructure projects to be financed alongside seven ‘soft’ connectivity projects, which include improvements in the legal, institutional and digital spheres. According to a study report, the EU identified northern, central and southern alternatives to the corridor. The central alternative has taken the EU’s preference as the most sustainable option, which leads to most infrastructure projects being centered around Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” the article notes.

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