Kazakhstan and Israel: Good friends and reliable partners

The country's ambassador praises cooperation between the two countries - and calls for more.

astana synagogue 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
astana synagogue 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The occasion of the 17th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries is an appropriate time to note that Israel was one of the first states to recognize the independent Republic of Kazakhstan - in December of 1991. A few months later, in April of 1992, diplomatic relations were established. Since then Kazakhstan-Israel relations have been strong, boosting progress in political, trade and economic, scientific, humanitarian and military-technical fields. Relations between our two peoples have historical roots. By 1870 there was a Jewish community in the city of Almaty (Verniy), and in 1884 the first synagogue opened. From 1941-45 Jews from Kazakhstan bravely battled on the Great Patriotic War fronts against the Third Reich. In the period of 1948-53, when the Stalin regime fought "cosmopolitans," many Jewish intellectuals were banished to Kazakhstan. During the '50s, the Jewish population of Kazakhstan grew through the arrival of Jews from the rest of the Soviet Union as part of the Komsomol groups sent to develop virgin lands and as well as industry, science and culture. In 1990 Jewish organizations and cultural centers were established in Kazakhstan, and the newspaper Shalom began publication. In 2004 in Astana, the synagogue of Beit Rahel-Habad Lubavitch, the largest in Central Asia, was opened. It should be pointed out that this was the first synagogue constructed in Central Asia in the modern period. Visits on different levels between our countries have been frequent. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has twice been to Israel. Representatives of political and business circles in Kazakhstan have repeatedly come here. Pilgrims from Kazakhstan, both Muslims and Christians, regularly come to the Holy Land. On Easter alone, Israel was visited by 85 people from all over Kazakhstan. THE KAZAKHSTAN MODEL of interethnic and interconfessional cooperation is of particular interest here in Israel. We, together with Jewish emigrants from Kazakhstan and Central Asia, last year held round tables and meetings that included members of parliaments of both countries. Since independence, Kazakhstan has experienced massive changes. A new political system was created; economic, legal, judicial and other sectors underwent reform. All this has led independent Kazakhstan to become one of the most dynamic developing countries in the world (over the last nine years, including the last difficult crisis year, annual GDP growth in Kazakhstan was more than 9.3 percent). Both our countries support the efforts of the international community to strengthen regional safety and dialogue between civilizations. Both countries participate in the work of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The chief rabbis of Israel - Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar - will take part the third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana. Rabbi Metzger took part in the two previous forums and is a frequent visitor in Kazakhstan. The congress itself is under the aegis of the United Nations. It's worthwhile noting that during the two last congresses, religious leaders of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and other faiths gathered around the same round table. Kazakhstan has become an international platform for dialogue, where leaders who have different views can and do meet. The Kazakhstan initiatives on a dialogue establishment are supported by the majority of the countries in Asia. President Nazarbayev's offer made on October 20, 1992 at the UN General Assembly to convene the CICA was accepted - remarkable in that the burden of responsibility for creation of structures of safety in Asia was taken up by such a young country. In this context, Kazakhstan's foreign policy is aimed at the development of widespread cooperation with the countries of Europe, Asia, America and the Muslim states. THROUGHOUT THE last 17 years, Kazakhstan and Israel have maintained a positive dynamic. Trade turnover between the two in 2008 was almost $2.5 billion, more than double in comparison with the previous year. The potential of our country for large Israeli companies is great, particularly in the areas of road building, extraction of mineral resources and alternative power. The largest Israeli telecommunication companies during the last few years have partnered with Kazakh information technology companies. Considerable potential is seen for expanded cooperation in hi-tech, agriculture, finance, medicine and medical technologies. From the pages of this newspaper I would like to invite businessmen of Israel to take part in those spheres in which Israel has advanced experience. We view Israel as an important partner in the Middle East. Most important in realizing the immense potential that increased cooperation can bring is political will and desire on both sides. Kazakhstan-Israel relations have broad and bright prospects. The writer is the ambassador of Kazakhstan in Israel.