Ambassador Yerkebulan Sapiev of Kazakhstan conducted a briefing for the media on 14 December 2021 in Ashgabat.
The focus was on the achievements of Kazakhstan during the 30 years of independence.
Here is the text of his speech:
Dear media representatives!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the beginning of my speech, I would like to cordially congratulate the distinguished President of Turkmenistan and the fraternal Turkmen people on the International Day of Neutrality!
I express my deep gratitude to all of you for participating in our event.
Today I would like to tell you about the socio-economic development of Kazakhstan, internal political processes, foreign policy, the main provisions of the Address of the President of our country, esteemed Kassym-Zhomart Kemelevich Tokayev to the people of Kazakhstan, about the events of the bilateral agenda of Kazakh-Turkmen cooperation, as well as plans for 2022.
1. In 2021, which was still difficult for the global economy due to the ongoing pandemic and quarantine restrictions, the economy of Kazakhstan maintained a steady growth rate. Following the results of ten months of this year, GDP growth was 3.5%.
The stable growth of production in the real sector has also been preserved. So, the volume of production of the manufacturing industry grew by 5.3%. Growth is noted in the production of locomotives and cars (59%), plastic products (36.5%), pharmaceuticals (33.6%), finished metal products (16.4%), mechanical engineering (19.5%), furniture production ( 11.8%), clothing (11.4%), building materials (9.3%).
Thanks to gradual quarantine reliefs, there is a recovery in business activity in the services sector with growth to 3.4% due to high dynamics in communications services (+ 12.9%) and trade (+ 9.5%).
The construction industry grew by 7.6%. For 10 months, 11.6 million square meters were commissioned in the country. m of housing, which is 7.9% more compared to the same period last year.
The gradual recovery of investment growth continued, reaching 2.5%, and excluding mining – at the level of 14%. High growth rates of investments in fixed assets were noted in construction (+ 120.6%), manufacturing (+ 78.6%), agriculture (+ 41.9%), trade (+ 31.4%), real estate transactions (+ 17.4%), financial activities (+ 12.1%).
Kazakhstan has a sovereign credit rating at the level of investment attractiveness from international rating agencies (S&P, Fitch and Moody’s).
In the Doing Business 2020 rating, Kazakhstan confidently entered the TOP-25 among 190 countries of the world, improving its position by 3 points. Kazakhstan ranks 4th according to the indicator “Enforcement of contracts”, 7th according to the indicator “Protection of minority investors”, 22nd according to the indicator “Registration of enterprises”.
In the UN International Telecommunication Union report on the Global Cybersecurity Index, Kazakhstan ranks 31st place.
According to the International Institute for Management Development, Kazakhstan ranks 35th in the World Competitiveness Ranking.
In the ranking of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Global Competitiveness Index, Kazakhstan ranks 55th.
In the Sustainable Development Rating published by the UN and the Bertelsmann Foundation, out of 165 countries, Kazakhstan took 59th place.
More than 24 thousand companies with foreign participation work in Kazakhstan (10.5% more than in 2020). Of these, 23.6 thousand are small businesses, another 314 are medium-sized, and 260 are large.
According to the results of the first half of this year the volume of direct foreign investments in the economy of Kazakhstan increased by 30.4% and amounted to USD 11.1 billion. In the context of industries, the highest growth was recorded in the manufacturing industry – by 57.2%, trade – by 45.8%, mining – by 27.1%, transport – by 20.4%.
On the territory of Kazakhstan, there are 13 Special Economic Zones of various sectoral focus, 31 industrial zones.
3. A favorable migration regime is being formed. The visa-free regime is valid for citizens of more than 65 countries of the world, including all countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
There are 24 airports (72 air corridors) in the country. There are 126 international and 289 domestic flights from the capital of Kazakhstan – Nur-Sultan, including to Frankfurt, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul. From the international airport of the city of Almaty, flights depart to more than 55 cities of the world.
The Astana International Financial Center is actively developing. For four years of active work, the Astana International Financial Center has registered about 600 participating companies. The taxes collected from them, as well as from their own earnings and constant cost reductions will allow the AIFC to reach self-sufficiency until 2023.
The Court and the International Arbitration Center have been established on the territory of the Center to resolve investment disputes on the principles of British law. Any investor, regardless of the location of his project in the country, can apply there for protection.
The transport and logistics infrastructure is being developed. Today, the length of public roads in the Republic of Kazakhstan is almost 100 thousand km, of which the republican network is 25 thousand km, the local network is 71 thousand km. In the period from 2021-2025 in the road industry it is planned to build and reconstruct 12 thousand km of roads of the republican network. Construction and reconstruction of 3.6 thousand km is underway. Overhaul and medium repairs covered 1.1 thousand km of roads. To date, 15 road projects are being implemented.
Kazakhstan accounts for 70% of all transit land traffic between China and Europe, while land transportation is 3 times faster than sea transportation (40 days – by sea, 40 days – through the territory of Kazakhstan).
An open skies regime operates at 11 major airports in Kazakhstan. Flights with the 5th degree of “air freedom” allow a foreign airline to carry out commercial passenger transit flights through the airports of Kazakhstan to cities of third countries, which makes it possible to increase the transit potential of Kazakhstan and increase passenger traffic through the airports of Kazakhstan.
Land transit corridors have been created. From East to West and from North to South, access to the markets of the countries of Europe, Southeast Asia, China, Russia, Turkey and the countries of the Persian Gulf is provided. One of these corridors is the Western Europe – Western China international highway. Cargoes from China are delivered to Europe via Kazakhstan in 10-15 days, while delivery by the Southern Sea Route takes about 2 months.
Kazakhstan has built a terminal in the Chinese port of Lianyungang, the dry port “Khorgos – Eastern Gate” on the border with China, increased the capacity of the ports of Aktau and Kuryk in the Caspian Sea with the ability to load up to 27 million tons per year. Kazakhstan supports the process of reviving the Great Silk Road and the mega-project “One Belt – One Road”, initiated by the PRC.
Kazakhstan is one of the largest grain producers and exporters. We have 26 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture. By 2030, the area of irrigated land will be increased to 3 million hectares.
This year, the grain harvest amounted to 16.4 million tons. As you know, within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Kazakhstan initiated the creation of an Islamic Organization for Food Security. Currently, 36 OIC states are members of this organization. At this time, Turkmenistan is also studying the issue of joining this organization.
Our country is actively developing the social sphere.
In the field of healthcare, services are provided in nuclear diagnostics, robotic kinesitherapy, tomotherapy and other high-tech services. 84 thousand cardiological operations are carried out in the country per year. 6 medical organizations are internationally accredited by JCI. Medical tourism is actively developing. Every year, foreigners from more than 45 countries of the world come to clinics in Kazakhstan for treatment. This year, the government has allocated $ 4.1 billion to finance medical care.
The international program “Bolashak” is successfully working in the field of education. More than 13 thousand of our citizens received free education in the best universities in the world. Of them 11 thousand are now working for the good of our Motherland in various sectors of the economy. More than 50% – holders of specialties of the humanities, social sciences, more than 30% – engineering and technical specialties.
In 2010, Kazakhstan joined the Bologna Process and became a full member of the European educational space. Today, there are 128 higher educational institutions in the country, 8 of them were included in the list of the best universities in the world with the rating “QS Stars Development Road map” for 2018.
4. All this would have been impossible to achieve without interethnic harmony and interfaith understanding in society. Our model of interethnic and interfaith development has long become the country’s international brand. I’ll explain why.
We have 126 nationalities and ethnic groups living in peace and harmony, speaking 23 languages, professing Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism and Judaism. About 100 secondary schools teach in Russian, Uzbek, Tajik, Uyghur and Ukrainian. In 108 secondary schools, the native languages of 22 nationalities are taught as separate subjects. The native languages of 30 nationalities are taught in 195 linguistic centers. 35 newspapers and magazines are published in 15 languages, of which the state finances the publication of 6 national newspapers. Radio programs are aired in 8 languages, and television programs in 7 languages. There are 14 Russian, Uzbek, Uyghur, Korean and German theaters, 820 ethnocultural associations.
We have a unique public institution that has no analogues in the world – the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan. It has a constitutional status and is a full-fledged subject of the political system. It elects 9 deputies of the lower house of Parliament – Mazhilis. These MPs represent the interests of all nationalities.
5. Today’s briefing is taking place on the eve of the main national holiday of our country – Independence Day, which we will celebrate in Kazakhstan on December 16.
On December 1, in Kazakhstan, we widely celebrated the Day of the First President.
Our First President – Leader of the Nation, dear Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, laid the foundations of state building. Under his wise leadership, Kazakhstan today has emerged as a successful, politically stable and dynamically developing state.
In 2019, N.A. Nazarbayev voluntarily resigned, showing a unique example of the political leadership of an independent country. As a result of the extraordinary elections of the President of the country, the respected Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev was elected the Head of State.
The strategic course of development laid down by our First President continues.
September 1 this year at the opening of the second session of the 7th convocation of the Parliament, Head of State K.K. Tokayev addressed a message to the people of Kazakhstan.
The President announced an increase in the minimum wage from January 1, 2022 from 42,500 tenge to 60 thousand tenge (from $ 100 to $ 132). Note that the minimum wage has not increased since 2018. This will directly affect more than a million people, and indirectly – all workers.
Tokayev expanded opportunities for early withdrawal of pension savings. He instructed to allow the transfer of a part of pension savings above the sufficiency threshold to an account in Otbasy Bank for the subsequent purchase of housing – this is a special bank created for housing investments.
The head of state pointed out a number of necessary reforms in the areas:
• agriculture (involve microfinance organizations to invest in small projects, increase the area of land for fodder production, expand farmers’ access to pastures);
• power engineering (to develop a peaceful atom in the country, the prospects for the production of green hydrogen are noted);
• public administration (a new body will appear – the National Geological Service);
• security (instructed to reboot the military-industrial complex and military doctrine);
At the same time, the Head of State ordered to build a thousand new schools across Kazakhstan by 2025.
Ladies and gentlemen!
6. The priority direction of foreign policy remains the active participation of Kazakhstan in the process of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. As you know, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. This is a significant contribution to strengthening global security.
Therefore, who else but us, to be at the forefront of the global movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Our country has suffered the bitterness of an ecological catastrophe from nuclear tests. For 40 years of activity, from 1949 to 1989, 456 nuclear tests were carried out at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. The power of all explosions was 2,500 times stronger than the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. According to various estimates, 1.5 million people suffered from nuclear tests.
In 2006, the Central Asian countries created a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Building a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.
Kazakhstan has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Our country contributes to the peaceful use of atomic energy and the strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Kazakhstan is implementing a unique international project to create the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium Bank. The Bank will store 90 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride, suitable for the manufacture of fuel for nuclear power plants. This uranium reserve is foreseen in case IAEA Member States are faced with the termination of traditional fuel supplies for political reasons.
7. Asia’s growing economic power requires a more integrated continental security architecture. Kazakhstan proposes to transform the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) into a full-fledged regional organization for security and development. In 2022, the CICA Summit is planned in Kazakhstan.
Global interfaith harmony remains the focus of our foreign policy. The capital of Kazakhstan regularly hosts Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. They contribute to the development of global interreligious dialogue, unification of the spiritual and moral potential of world religions, and prevent confrontation of confessions. As I said earlier, we have a rich experience of interethnic and interreligious harmony. The next VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will also be held in Kazakhstan in 2022.
Next year, the Republic of Kazakhstan is also planning the Council of Heads of State of the CIS member states and a number of other major events.
8. The policy of constructive and balanced interaction with strategic partners and all interested countries will continue. Kazakhstan has established diplomatic relations with 186 out of 193 UN member states. Currently, in the capital of our country there are 70 Embassies of foreign states, 21 Consulate
and 38 representative offices of international organizations.
Abroad, the interests of the Republic of Kazakhstan are represented by 66 Embassies, 2 Diplomatic Missions, 17 Consulates General, 11 Consulates, and 5 Permanent Missions to international organizations.
Kazakhstan is strengthening strategic partnership in all areas and areas with the Russian Federation. A multifaceted strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China is developing.
A long-term strategic partnership with the United States of America is deepening. In the spirit of constructive dialogue, cooperation with our major trade and investment partner, the European Union, is developing.
Interaction with the countries of Central Asia is being strengthened. Our countries are linked by strong ties of common historical and cultural heritage. A close and constructive political dialogue between all five countries of the region will contribute to trade, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian interaction.
In August this year, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan KK Tokayev visited the Avaza National Tourist Zone to participate in the Third Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia. The results of the meeting were noted by all participants as successful and fruitful. A number of events were brilliantly organized by the Turkmen side. Forum of Women Leaders, Economic Forum, Exhibitions of National Products and National Cuisines of Central Asian Countries. All this demonstrates the high dynamics of good-neighborly relations between the countries of the region and is a vivid evidence of the growing authority of Turkmenistan and its leader in the world, and the effectiveness of the policy of permanent neutrality.
9. From the first days of independence, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have established friendly and fraternal relations based on mutual trust and equal cooperation. Kazakhstan is interested in further expansion of political, trade and economic relations with Turkmenistan, as well as in strengthening interregional and cultural and humanitarian ties.
The level of political trust and cooperation between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is steadily growing from year to year. Our countries, based on a common history, similarity of cultures and common interests, always provide each other with mutual support in the international arena. This is evidenced by the state visit of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K.K. Tokayev to Turkmenistan, which took place this year at the invitation of the highly respected President G.M. Berdimuhamedov. Within the framework of the visit, fruitful top-level talks took place, as a result of which 20 bilateral documents were signed in various areas of cooperation.
The dynamics of bilateral trade continues to grow steadily. In 2020, the trade turnover between our countries amounted to USD 128 million. For the period January-September of this year, this figure has already exceeded $ 143 million, which indicates a steady growth in trade and economic cooperation.
It is necessary to note the successful activity of the Kazakh-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation.
Cross-border cooperation is actively developing. Much attention is paid to the potential of interaction between the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan and the Balkan velayat of Turkmenistan. In the future – the creation of a special border trade zone on the border of the two countries.
Road, rail and sea transport play a key role in the bilateral agenda. Our countries have a huge transit and transport potential for the operation of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, the development of the seaports of Aktau and Turkmenbashi in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation in the implementation of transit traffic.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have big plans to further strengthen cultural and humanitarian cooperation. Close contacts have been established between the educational flagships of the two countries. There are solid plans to expand cooperation in this aspect.
Kazakh-Turkmen relations are developing on the basis of mutually beneficial partnership and the principles of equality and mutual respect. There are opportunities for consistent expansion and deepening of cooperation across the entire spectrum of the bilateral agenda, as well as for moving to an even higher level.
Ladies and gentlemen!
At the end of my speech, I would like to once again congratulate the esteemed President of Turkmenistan on the International Day of Neutrality, wish him good health and success in his responsible state activities, and the fraternal Turkmen people – well-being and prosperity.
Once again, I express my sincere gratitude to all the guests for their participation. Happy New Year to everyone! I wish you good health and success in the New Year!
Thank you for attention! /// nCa, 15 December 2021