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Kazakhstan

Five Caspian Sea states sign landmark convention

AKTAU, Kazakhstan : The leaders of the five states bordering the resource-rich Caspian Sea signed a landmark deal on its legal status on Sunday in the Kazakh city of Aktau, easing regional tensions and potentially facilitating lucrative oil and gas projects.

The leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan signed the agreement on the status of the inland sea, which has been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union rendered obsolete agreements between Tehran and Moscow.

The host, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said before the signing that the leaders were “participants in a historic event.”

“We can admit that consensus on the status of the sea was hard to reach and not immediate, the talks lasted more than 20 years and called for a lot of joint efforts from the parties,” Nazarbayev said.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose country was seen as driving the deal, said the convention had “epoch-making significance” and called for more military cooperation between the countries on the Caspian.

Sunday’s summit was the fifth of its kind since 2002 but there have been more than 50 lower-level meetings since the Soviet breakup spawned four new countries on the shores of the Caspian.

The deal goes some way to settling a long-lasting dispute on whether the Caspian is a sea or a lake — which means it falls under different international laws.

While the convention refers to the Caspian as a sea, provisions in the agreement give it “a special legal status”, Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin told Kommersant daily earlier this week.

The Kremlin has said the convention keeps most of the sea in shared use but divides up the seabed and underground resources.

Iran, who ended up with the smallest share of the sea under the terms of the convention, is viewed as a potential loser in the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the convention “a major document” Sunday but noted that it does not bring an end to all disagreements over the sea.

“Today we have a framework for actions in the Caspian Sea which was not the case before,” Rouhani said in comments translated into English.

“But there are other issues to deal with in other meetings.”

Nevertheless, Rouhani hailed a stipulation in the convention that prevents non-Caspian countries from deploying military forces on the sea.

“The Caspian Sea only belongs to the Caspian states,” he said.

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Kazakhstan

Kazakh president approves new Kazakh alphabet based on Latin script

ASTANA:The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has signed a decree approving a new Kazakh alphabet based on Latin script, Ak Orda, the official workplace of the President of Kazakhstan, said.

Nursultan Nazarbayev has laid out a timeline to switch the country’s writing system over from the Cyrillic to the Latin script.  The change should be fully effective by 2025.

Recall, Nursultan Nazarbayev signed an executive order on October 27, 2017 telling his government to prepare the Kazakh alphabet for a transition to Latin letters from Cyrillic ones by 2025.

“The government of Kazakhstan is to set up a national commission to change the Kazakh alphabet to Latin script; organize a gradual switch to Latin script by 2025,” the document circulated to state media read.

Kazakh president authored an article, on April 12, 2017 in the state-run newspaper Egemen Kazakhstan (Independent Kazakhstan) under the title “Looking into the Future: Modernization of Public Conscience.”  In his article, the president, in particular, suggested changing the current Kazakh alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin.  The whole process, he declares, needs to be finalized by 2025.

A special commission was set up on April 13 to working on creating “the most appropriate” variant of the Latin-based script for the Kazakh language.”

Meanwhile, some experts consider that the move is seen as an effort to emphasize Kazakh culture and distance the country from Russia.

The Latin alphabet was used in Kazakhstan between 1929 and 1940, when Soviet authorities decided it was time to switch back to Cyrillic.  In fact, a special, so-called “missionary” version of Cyrillic had been developed in the 19th century by learned Russian immigrants settled in Kazakh lands as part of the geographic expansion of the Russian Empire into Central Asia.  A prominent Kazakh educator, Ybray Altynsarin, had greatly contributed to the mass introduction of Cyrillic among native Kazakh speakers.  It was in use until the October Revolution of 1917.  Prior to that, Kazakhs had been using a 29-character Arabic script with a few modifications to reflect phonetic specificities. Written Arabic had been present throughout Kazakhstan since the tenth century.

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Kazakhstan

How Kazakhstan reconciled the members of the UN Security Council

The next rotation of the chairmanship was held in the UN Security Council. Kazakhstan after a month at the head of the key body of the world’s most important international organization gave way to Kuwait. It gave way, I suppose, with a sense of accomplishment. Over the month of the chairmanship, Kazakhstan has done more on this post than some members of the Security Council have been able to achieve over the years.

January 2018 will remain in history as one of the most turbulent months for international relations. At least for the last few years. In the four weeks since the beginning of the new year, the already cold war between Russia and the United States has declined, following the introduction of new sanctions by the latter. In Afghanistan, several of the most deadly terrorist attacks occurred in recent years. In the Middle East, another aggravation occurred – Turkey launched a full-scale military operation against the Kurds in Syria. And on the Korean peninsula against the backdrop of the upcoming Olympics, the nuclear threat of the DPRK has taken on quite different, global outlines, even despite some warming of relations between Seoul and Pyongyang.

All these topics Kazakhstan, from the position of the Chairman of the UN Security Council, did not ignore. Only on the situation in the Middle East in the Council passed four meetings. In general, the members of the Security Council met more than 20 times during the round table. And always the topics of these meetings were relevant to all: from the same Middle East, where permanent instability became of the hotbed of terrorism, which today beats all countries of the world to the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which reached an extreme point in the conditions of the Korean crisis.

As a remark – usually not all events in the world are brought to the agenda of the UN Security Council. This happens at the discretion of the Security Council members, well, or, in fact, its Chairman. Recently, especially often the UN Security Council has become just an arena for clarifying the relationship between its individual representatives. This sometimes determined his agenda.

Kazakhstan was trying to bring to the discussion really important topics that are bringing threats and risks to all, which sometimes are not noticed by countries due to tensions between them. The same threat from Afghanistan. It only seems regional. And you remember that Afghanistan in recent years has become the world leader in the production of heroin, and drugs grown on Afghan fields in long ways and intricate schemes are delivered to black markets of various countries in Europe and America. And you remember that Afghanistan over the years of the conflict has become an exporter of not only drugs, but also terrorism. As well as the above-mentioned Middle East. And this is also a common problem. Since 2000, the number of terrorist attacks in the world has increased 10-fold. And only in one year in 2016 militants committed attacks in 104 countries – this is more than half of the world.

And now remember how often you meet the mention of Afghanistan in the news tape and newsletters on TV? Against the backdrop of sanctions wars, political skirmishes and arms race, he somehow faded on the world agenda. Meanwhile, the threat there has become even more ambitious. Extorted from Iraq and Syria, ISIS fighters are looking for a new outpost in the region. And judging by the growing number of radicals in Afghanistan – they found it.

The separate issue of the Security Council was devoted to Afghanistan. And, it seems, official Astana still managed to draw the attention of Security Council members to this problem. At least, judging by the fact that representatives of the UN Security Council countries visited Afghanistan for the first time since 2010. From 13 to 15 January, a delegation of ambassadors from all 15 members of the Council visited Kabul to assess the situation on the spot and draw conclusions, which, alas, are sad and require urgent measures.

The separate issue of the Security Council was devoted to Afghanistan. And, it seems, official Astana still managed to draw the attention of Security Council members to this problem. At least, judging by the fact that representatives of the UN Security Council countries visited Afghanistan for the first time since 2010. From 13 to 15 January, a delegation of ambassadors from all 15 members of the Council visited Kabul to assess the situation on the spot and draw conclusions, which, alas, are sad and require urgent measures.

And one more issue that became the agenda during the Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the UN Security Council was the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Again, the topic, which has already become almost everyday. Countries are being measured by nuclear arsenals and “red buttons”, and the world, already accustomed to it, is quietly watching this. It seems that the nuclear threat is something ephemeral and has little connection with reality. And only those countries that have experienced the consequences of using WMD understand that the rapidly growing nuclear threat in the world bears a real catastrophe.

But the world does not yet understand this. That same «red button» remains a symbol of the power of the country and the main argument in the dispute. And hoping to win the same power, many countries are trying to seize WMD, follow the example of nuclear powers, which although formally call on their colleagues to demilitarize, but they do not hurry to abandon their lethal arsenals. And who will follow the calls, if the one who calls on him does not follow?

And here, after all, it is important to understand that it’s not even the amount of weapons of mass destruction in the world (and it is objectively growing), and not even in the geography of its spread. The very fact of its presence is important. And not always due protection. As the President of Kazakhstan rightly noted, when speaking at the UN Security Council, the increase in the number of countries possessing WMD creates the risk that these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists. Real bandits, with whom it is not always possible to agree. For them, WMD can be an opportunity to take revenge for the lost struggle with the use of conventional weapons. And then everyone will suffer. Regardless of status, availability of arsenals and militaristic beliefs.

That is, the nonproliferation of WMD today is, in fact, a matter of the survival of mankind. And this massej Kazakhstan, having taken advantage of the main tribune of the world, tried to inform this world. And it was not just an appeal, but in the best traditions of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – a detailed plan, as today, to minimize the nuclear threat. In particular, Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to work out a really working mechanism for punishment for the acquisition and distribution of WMD, and also to complicate the withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which remains somehow, but still an element of deterrence in the world.

And that these measures really work, Kazakhstan urged the countries to begin, at last, a dialogue, and not dangerous squabbles, and trust each other. Here it is, most important. Trust, which is so lacking in modern international relations. The trust that all conflicts and crises in the world could solve. A trust that would make weapons of mass destruction completely unnecessary and useless. You can be a successful and authoritative state even without it. Kazakhstan proves this every day on its own example.

The chairmanship of the UN Security Council is sometimes very recklessly considered a formality. But the experience of Kazakhstan shows that the only question here is who and how is coming to the point. And judging by the fact that, although this month the meetings of the Security Council did not involve disputes and disputes, and all resolutions were unanimously adopted, Kazakhstan approached the matter very carefully and responsibly. Now it is the turn of the world community to show great responsibility for its own future.

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Kazakhstan

Kazakstan:Haven for investors

Behind every success there is always someone too keen and serious. Seriousness of the leadership here is reflected by personal supervision of the visionary Kazakh leader President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The speedy completion of projects is quite impressive here and has an unambiguous message to the international business community for Kazakhstan. This is particularly important because this thing alone can guarantee success to the partners whose stakes are here. The reigning slogan ‘first the economy and then the policy’ clearly reflects the vision and genuine intensions of the President of RK.

The most unusual and augmented experiment for the post-Soviet times was launched by Kazakhstan, when the ‘International Financial Center’ began to operate in the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was apparently the fruit of a utopian idea, which today appears as much more precise and clear framework, provoking the interest of neighbouring countries and particularly those of foreign investors.

In order to attract foreign investment and working with foreign investors in Kazakhstan, a national company Kazakh Invest was created, which helps businessmen who want to work in the country to choose the best niche. No bureaucratic delays and language barriers are being ensured. Almost all the paper procedures the company takes on and communicates with potential investors in their language – all consulting services, tax, customs procedures are translated into English.

In addition, there is an ‘Investor Service Center’ in Kazakhstan which works on the principle of ‘one window operation. Anyone can come and immediately in one place get issued all the documents. Moreover, the rights of foreign entrepreneurs are protected by the investment ombudsman. Furthermore, for investors there are various preferences and tax incentives, for example, exemption from VAT when importing raw materials, and quotas for the importation and mobility of their own workforce.

You can count on the sustainability of the foreign investment system there. The investment policy of Kazakhstan was formed throughout the 26 years of independence by trial and error. Because it is already mature, carefully thought-out and as encompassing as possible.

It is necessary to note here that position in the international rating of Kazakhstan reflects the comfort of conditions for entrepreneurship the world over. Doing Business speaks for itself as this country enjoys 36th place among 190 states. The best indicators in the post-Soviet space, along with Russia. At the same time, on certain positions, Kazakhstan has overtaken not only the countries of the former USSR, but also many developed countries. For example, in terms of protection of minority investors, Kazakhstan is in the first place in the world and with reference to the execution of contracts – on the sixth position.

All terms and conditions created for investors have a real reflection in the figures of inflow of foreign capital. For example, only in the first quarter of 2017 investors invested in Kazakhstan by almost 19% more than a year earlier. As a result of January-March 2017, the total gross inflow of foreign direct investment amounted to 5.381 billion USD (data of the National Bank of Kazakhstan). This is almost 19% (or 857.2 million USD) more than the first quarter of 2016. The largest foreign investor is Holland, followed by the US, Switzerland, China and Russia.

There is every reason to believe that the project of the ‘International Financial Center’ launched by Kazakhstan is no longer a utopian idea. Astana has all chances to become the second Dubai or Singapore, only in Central Asia. To become a regional hub for attracting investments, using modern financial technologies and a special system of justice based on English law. In IFCA operates its own independent of the judicial system of Kazakhstan, an independent court. Foreign judges of international level work there. They have already sworn an oath to the President of Kazakhstan. All this guarantees complete impartiality of the process and the rule of law stands supreme.

After critically investigating the International Investment and Financial opportunities of Kazakhstan and the conditions created for them, it is not difficult to decide why this country is attracting foreign capital. With a minimum level of confidence in the financial sphere and market volatility, Kazakhstan remains a reliable ‘haven for investors’ with many areas that have not yet been mastered.

Despite the fact that RK has outranked arguments for assessing Kazakhstan with her competitors in the investment race, her targets are still far high. By the closing of 2017, Kazakhstan adopted a new tax code, as well as a code ‘On subsoil and subsoil use’, significantly expanding opportunities for investors. This year the government of Kazakhstan is preparing another package of legislative amendments to improve the business environment at the national and sub-national levels.

In addition to the traditional raw materials sector, in Kazakhstan, with its vast fertile areas, the agricultural sector looks promising and the Chinese investor is already actively coming to it and showing interest in the foreign business environment in the sphere of transport and logistics. Which makes Kazakhstan financially viable is convenient location of the country between Europe and Asia and the presence of virtually all the necessary infrastructure for transhipment of goods which play a very important role in every trade and industry.

Continuous growth in investment and favourable conditions prevalent here make Kazakhstan a very attractive location. The Kazakh government is making all efforts to realize her potentials to full extent.

 

Muhammad Wasim Chaudhry

A seasoned Pakistani writer and business analyst with keen observation on Kazakhstan.

 

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