INDIA-KAZAKH RELATIONS TOUCHING NEW HEIGHTS
Kazakhstan is fast emerging as the key player in Eurasia. It has come a long way since its independence in 1991. It has emerged as one of the fastest developing countries in the entire region and its per capita income is far head of Russia. Kazakhstan is the fourth largest proven reserve of uranium and is going to play a vital role in the world energy security in the coming years. Mr Doulat Kuanyshev, the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to New Delhi, speaks on the Indo-Kazakh relations and related issues in an exclusive interview with Media Khabar.
How do you view the present state of Kazakhstan and India relations?
From the outset of its independence, Kazakhstan has pursued development of friendly and mutually beneficial ties with all countries of the world. And India became one of our key political and economic partners. India is a huge country with an exceptionally brilliant past and vibrant present. As Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan, it is great privilege marked by rick variety of impressions, meetings, travels and personal discoveries.
India is such a great and diverse country, where you never stop meeting new interesting people, visiting new incredible places and discovering and learning something new and unique. However, in my personal opinion, the potential for bilateral cooperation is enormous and the current state of this cooperation is well behind our capabilities and aspirations. This needs to be accelerated and strengthened further.
In pursuance of the State Visit of Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev to India in January 2009 and the adopted Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and Republic of Kazakhstan, it was agreed to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
During the 8th meeting of the India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, Industrial and Cultural, held on 06 December 2010 in New Delhi, it was agreed to expedite the signing of the package of documents on Satpayev Block on the transfer of 25% share from KazMunaiGaz JSC to ONGC Videsh Limited of India.
What is the present state of Kazakhstan’s economy ?
Kazakhstan’s economy will be closely connected to its further integration in international trade and investment relations, efficient use of its natural and human resources, incremental exports of industrial and agricultural products, optimum employment of country’s transit potential. Further diversification of economy, upgrading of technical, financial and business standards to state-of-the art international levels, promotion of corporate governance, greater transparency and accountability, education and a concerted administrative reform, accession to the WTO, all these have been identified as key drivers to implement the above mentioned strategies.
How do you see the future of Indo-Kazak cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and overall energy security?
The Kazakhstan – India cooperation in the field of civil nuclear power is another promising area. Considering 5-fold increase in volumes of output of uranium in Kazakhstan and 10-fold increase in power capacities of the nuclear power stations in India, by 2020 it will provide our cooperation in this field with a long-term basis.
Summarizing the preliminary results of production activities, the uranium production output for 2010 was totaled to 17,803 tons that exceeded the targeted volume by almost 30% comparing to 2009. Thus for the period 2009-2010 the volume of uranium production in the Republic of Kazakhstan was increased by 2 times.
The uranium sales volume of JSC NAC Kazatomprom, excluding subsidiaries and joint ventures, was amounted to 9,000 t U in 2010, the revenue of uranium product in 2010 was increased by 30% in comparison with 2009.
Kazakhstan is willing to offer cross-ownership of uranium production. Kazakhstan seeks stronger relations with an emerging India, a “regional and global player”, continuing multi vector policy balancing its relations with all neighbour countries.
Kazakhstan would be keen to participate in Indian infrastructure projects and building nuclear plants.
Any other specific areas where you are looking towards a more meaningful cooperation with India?
Other prospective area of cooperation is the banking sector. In particular, the Punjab National Bank’s acquisition of controlling stake in Kazakh Danabank will certainly facilitate Indian businesses’ transactions on the market of Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and, in broader terms, of the Customs’ Union which unites Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Belarus. During the meeting of President Nursultan Nazarbayev with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on sidelines of the Nuclear Summit in Washington on 11 April 2010 both sides expressed interest to enhance cooperation in agriculture, civil construction, mining, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and other sectors.
Dynamic cooperation between Kazakhstan and India in IT sector is already in place. During President Nazarbayev’s visit to India, MOUs were signed between Kazakhstan IT-companies’ Association and NASSCOM, LLC Alatau IT City Management and Paharpur Business Centre & Software Technology Incubator Park, National info communication Holding Zerde and NASSCOM. Many Indian IT companies like NIIT and 3-i Infotech have been successfully working in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan and India have good air communication between Almaty and New Delhi that takes around 3 hours. We hope it will develop in due course and manner.
By December 2011 Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will complete works on railway Beyneu- Etrek Gyzylgaya Gorgan, in Islamic Republic of Iran, that will create North- South Transportation Corridor to Chahbahar port on Persian Gulf. We urge our respective authorities and companies to contribute to facilitation of transit and trade according these routes.
What is Kazakhstan’s policy on foreign direct investment and in what specific areas it is looking towards India ?
Kazakhstan became one of the leading countries of the CIS (Common Wealth of Independent States) as far as foreign direct investment inflow is concerned. FDI was promoted in many respects by the spent policy on construction of open model of economy, and also introduction of some preferences for the foreign companies and the state guarantee for investors.
In particular, for 10 years the rights to subtract cost of the fixed capital placed in operation are given to the operating enterprises, and also clearing of corporation surtax on incomes of investment activity is given.
Besides, at realisation of the investment project of the organisation for five years they are released from the tax to the property and from the ground tax.
Now, the next big upcoming event is the OIC summit this year. What are the expectations from this event?
Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) promotes the East-West dialogue and attract the Muslim world’s attention to the problems of Central Asia, thereby, speeding up their settlement.
Hosting the 38th session of the OIC Foreign Ministers on June 28-30 2011, in Astana and Kazakhstan’s presidency in Organization are viewed as important political events in the life of the country and new steps towards the consolidation of political authority of the country in the Muslim world.
Kazakhstan’s presidency of the OIC ministerial council, coming in the wake of Astana’s recent chairmanship of the OSCE, is expected to open a new page of interrelations with the other 56 member states and to be a unique chance to foster greater understanding and cooperation between the Islamic world and the West.
Astana intends to contribute to the adoption of a long-term programme of OIC financial and economic assistance with the aim of showing support for less affluent countries of the Islamic world in resolving long-standing problems of poverty, illnesses, illiteracy, hunger and debt burden.
With our experience in building a multinational and multi-confessional state, Kazakhstan attempts to provide a necessary process of rapprochement between nations and religions.
Under the roof of Astana’s Palace of Peace and Accord, the 3nd Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions brought together religious leaders from many countries and regions in 2009 to create appropriate conditions for spiritual leaders.
It should be noted that Kazakhstan is the homeland for more than 130 ethnic groups: Kazakh, Uzbek, Russian, Ukrainian, Donggan, German, Greek, Korean, Belarusian and Chechenian, to name just a few. They are now all making a joint effort to build their common homeland.
For all the people in Kazakhstan, the differences in ethnicity, culture or religion never hampered exchange and understanding.
Following the OSCE chairmanship, Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OIC is expected to be a qualitative continuation of the country’s multilateral diplomacy which will also further enhance the nation’s international prestige.
What are the specific areas where Kazakhstan would like to emphasize on as the host country?
The ongoing development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and OIC member countries in trade and economic sphere is also of great importance. The Central Asian nation closely cooperates with the Islamic Development Bank, an essential part of OIC’s effort to promote development in Muslim countries. At present, a number of projects, totalling US$ 497.3 million, have either been implemented or are under implementation in Kazak
hstan within the IDB framework. Thanks to the cooperation from IDB experts, in February 2009 Kazakhstan adopted a Law on Islamic finance and Islamic banking system.
It is also essential to strengthen collaboration between Kazakhstan and the OIC in educational, cultural and humanitarian, science and technology fields. In this respect, close interaction with the Islamic Education, Science and Culture Organization (ISESCO) gives Kazakhstan an opportunity for successful implementation of national projects such as preservation of cultural heritage monuments, exchange in language training and study of history, and culture of Islamic Countries.
With 57 member states, the OIC is the second largest international organization after the United Nations. Being an intergovernmental political organization, not a religious one, it unites countries spread over four continents with 1.5 billion people.
Currently, the cooperation with the OIC is carried out within the framework of the TenYear Programme of Action adopted at the third extraordinary session of the Islamic Summit held in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) in December 2005. The document includes the approaches to the settlement of issues in the political, economic and scientific fields, as well as in education and culture. Kazakhstan will chair the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers in 2011-12, beginning with the June session in Astana.
Your comments on the future of Indo- Kazakhstan relations?
During his last visit to Astana, Indian External Affairs minister H E SM Krishna called Kazakhstan as India’s extended neighbour. We too feel the same way and we attach great importance to the visit of Indian Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Kazakhstan this year. We continue to explore fresh avenues of cooperation with India and make it more sustainable, meaningful and viable.