Cameron Wants Stronger Kazakh Ties, Promotes Britain as Partner of Choice for Region

ASTANA – The United Kingdom seeks enhanced partnership with Kazakhstan in education, business, economy, energy, and climate change, said David Cameron, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, during his visit to Astana on April 24.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Kazakh Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu. Photo credit:The Astana Times.

“What I want to mark is it’s been 11 years since my visit here as Prime Minister in 2013, and to remark on the extraordinary progress that your country has made economically, socially, politically. It is really exciting coming back here to Astana and seeing how much has changed,” said Cameron in his opening remarks at the joint press briefing with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu.  

Earlier, Cameron and Nurtleu signed a historic Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the U.K. The agreement seeks to strengthen bilateral relations in key sectors, such as foreign policy and security, trade and investment, protection of intellectual property, energy and raw materials partnership, transportation, environment protection and climate change, banking and financial services, employment and social policy, science and education.

“This comprehensive agreement will be a significant step in taking political, trade and investment relations between Astana and London to new horizons. We believe our strong and mutually beneficial strategic partnership will continue to strengthen in all areas, from energy to rare metals, from ecology to education,” said Nurtleu. 

Speaking to journalists, Cameron said there has been “huge progress” in the educational sector over the past 11 years with British educational institutions established in Kazakhstan. He also announced the doubling of the scholarships for young people from Kazakhstan to study in the U.K.

The U.K. is also among the top 10 investors in Kazakhstan. According to Kazakh Minister Nurtleu, over the last twenty years, the volume of direct British investments has reached $17 billion.

“Last year, investments from Great Britain in Kazakhstan’s economy increased by 20% and amounted to $795 million. Currently, around 600 enterprises established with the capital of British business contribute to the development of the country. Among them are the well-known companies such as Shell, RioTinto, Ernst and Young, AstraZeneca,” he said.

Cameron said there are more opportunities for investment on the horizon, and that is where the focus should be.

“We’ve recently signed a partnership on critical minerals, and we have exciting proposals for British mining companies to be involved in that area,” he said.

“There is a lot more work I think we can do on small business. We’ve been talking about how to make sure we remove bureaucracy and barriers to small and medium-sized businesses becoming established here and working here,” he added.

We are here, so you have a choice’

Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan is part of a Central Asian tour. Prior to Kazakhstan, he visited Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. 

Speaking about the broader purpose of his visit to the Central Asian region, Cameron emphasized the desire for partnership with the region.

“I want to make a broader point about this visit that I’m making to the Central Asian republics this week and that is that we are not saying to Kazakhstan or any other country that you have to make a choice, or we’re asking you not to choose your partnership and trade with Russia or China, or with anyone else. We’re here because we believe you should be able to make a choice to partner with us in the way that is good for both our security and our prosperity,” said Cameron.

“The important thing for the U.K. is to say we want to be your partner: partner in education, partner on tackling climate change, partner in growing business, partner on giving young people new opportunities in your country. We don’t ask you to choose us or another power. We say we’re here, so you have a choice. That’s the spirit in which we come. Of course, in the case of Kazakhstan, where I came here 11 years ago, so much has been done on that agenda, but I’m quite convinced that the best still lies ahead,” concluded Cameron.

Cameron will spend two days in Kazakhstan to boost ties between the two countries.

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