Kazakhstan readies itself for EXPO-2017

By Rapil Zhoshybayev Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-17 19:43:01

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

In 2017, Astana, the capital city of my home country of Kazakhstan, will host the next Universal World Exposition, joining a long heritage that includes Shanghai's extraordinary effort in 2010. EXPO-2017 is a national project that provides a great opportunity for the Republic of Kazakhstan to investigate new sources of energy and current developments in green technologies. We have set ambitious goals to ensure that this exhibition is held at the highest level, meeting the expectations and hopes of other countries. The president of Kazakhstan has set up some challenging objectives; we need to turn EXPO-2017 into the central point for the third industrial revolution, which includes the development of an alternative economy and the creation of new high-tech materials, sources of renewable power and a skilled workforce. The promotion of EXPO-2017 is gaining significant feedback from across the world.

The construction of the exhibition grounds will follow green principles, using both smart power-supply networks and buildings with renewable power sources. This unique and highly advanced building project will spur on the technological development of the country.

Astana will not only get a new district with modern buildings and infrastructure, but also new premises for implementing innovative ideas after the exhibition. The most important factor is that new technologies and innovations will become a part of the life of this country.

We guarantee appropriate accommodation and working conditions for the participants of the exhibition. We will take all necessary measures to provide visa support, issuing visas for the representatives of the participating countries and fulfilling guarantees relating to customs and local taxation. The Convention Relating to International Exhibitions was signed in Paris 87 years ago, which in turn established the Bureau International des Expositions and set simple rules that specify the number of exhibitions, their orders and characteristics.

 I will visit a great number of the countries whose representatives are expected to participate in the exhibition. In this sense, 2015 is a crucial year for negotiating and signing participation agreements. We are holding meetings to discuss technical and other issues.

In regards to the entry regime, we have piloted a visa-free regime for 19 countries: Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and the US. The residents of these countries will be able to enter Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 15 days until December 2017.

During the implementation of this project, we will identify existing disadvantages and administrative barriers; evaluate how prepared our tourism industry is for the influx of visitors, and our ability to provide the necessary services to people.

We will expand the list of countries whose citizens will be granted a free-entry visa to Kazakhstan, and identify countries with whom we can sign an agreement on the mutual abolition of visas. Moreover, electronic and group visas will be introduced in the near future. At the same time, we are working on improving our border and immigration controls.

Two bus stations and a railway station are under construction, and we will commence building our international airport's new terminal soon. We are planning to build more than 70 hotels. The construction of exhibition pavilions and new housing is planned and will be built over the next two years. The appearance of the city will be completely different by 2017.

Taking into account the experience of previous countries, we are carefully considering the handling of the EXPO-2017 pavilions, cultural spaces, housing and related buildings as carefully as possible. Most of these buildings will use green energy, including wind and solar power. Part of the complex has already been earmarked as an additional campus for Nazarbayev University, where students and scientists will be able to develop new technologies.

After EXPO-2017, the exhibition area, which will dazzle with its unique and innovative buildings, will become a financial center for Astana, with a special status that will operate on the principles of English law, following the example of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

China's status as a leader in the global economy, the phenomenal success it has enjoyed over the past decade and its achievements with large-scale projects such as the 2008 Olympic Games and EXPO-2010 show that it would be a valuable partner for bilateral relations in EXPO-2017. In this regard, I would like to invite Chinese companies to take an active part in the preparation and holding of the EXPO-2017, as well as to present their best technological achievements and discoveries there.

The author is first deputy minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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