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Diplomacy in Action

Kazakhstan (04/20/09)


April 20, 2009

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PROFILE

Geography
Area: 2.7 million sq. km. (1.05 million sq. mi.); ninth-largest nation in the world; the size of Western Europe.
Major cities: Astana (capital, June 1998), Almaty (former capital), Karaganda, and Shymkent.
Terrain: Extends east to west from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the oasis and desert of Central Asia.
Climate: Continental, cold winters and hot summers; arid and semi-arid.
Border lengths: Russia 6,846 km., Uzbekistan 2,203 km., China 1,533 km., Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km., and Turkmenistan 379 km.

People
Nationality: Kazakhstani.
Population (January 2008 est.): 15.6 million--down from 16.2 million in 1989; second most-populated country in Central Asia. Large-scale emigration of ethnic Russians, Germans, and Ukrainians accounts for most of the population decrease since 1989.
Population growth rate (2007 est.): 1.08%.
Population distribution: 52.8 % of population lives in urban areas. The largest cities include Astana (capital) with a population of 602,480, Almaty (former capital) 1.3 million, Karaganda 453,400, Shymkent 545,400, Taraz 340,000, Ust-Kamenogorsk 310,000, Pavlodar 300,000.
Population density: 14.5 people per sq. mi. (U.S. density, 2000: 79.6 people per sq. mi.).
Ethnic groups (2002): Kazakh 55.8%, Russian 28.3%, Ukrainian 3.3%, Uzbek 2.6%, German 1.8%, Uyghur 1.5%, other 5.0%.
Religion: Sunni Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%.
Language: Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of population speaks the Kazakh language.
Health (2007 est.): Infant mortality rate--27.4/1,000. Life expectancy--67.22 years (male 61.9 yrs.; female 72.84 yrs.). Health care (2005 est.)--30.3 doctors and 68.2 hospital beds per 10,000 persons.
Education: Mandatory universal secondary education. School system consists of kindergarten, primary school (grades 1-4), secondary school (grades 5-9), and high school (grades 10-11). Literacy rate--98.4%.
Work force (2007 est., 8.16 million): Industry and construction--18.1%; agriculture and fishing--32.9%; services--49%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: December 16, 1991 (from the Soviet Union).
Declaration of sovereignty: October 25, 1990.
Constitution: August 30, 1995 constitution adopted by referendum replaced a 1993 constitution.
Branches: Executive--president, prime minister, Council of Ministers. Legislative--Senate and Mazhilis. Judicial--Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 oblasts plus 2 cities--Almaty, the former capital, and Astana, the current capital; and the territory of Baykonur, which contains the space launch center that the Russians built and now lease.
Ten political parties are registered: Nur Otan ("The Light of Fatherland" in Kazakh), Azat ("Free"; formerly known as True Ak Zhol), the National Social Democratic Party, Ak Zhol (Bright Path), Auyl (Farm), the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, the Communist People's Party, Party of Patriots, Adilet (Justice), and Rukhaniyat (Spirituality).
Suffrage: Universal, 18 years of age.

Economy
GDP (2007): $102.5 billion.
Exchange rate (period average): 122.55 KZT/U.S. $1 in 2007.
GDP growth rate: 9.5% (2002); 9.2% (2003); 9.6% (2004 est.); 9.7% (2005 est.); 10.7% (2006); 8.5% (2007).
GDP per capita (2007, purchasing power parity): $11,100.
Inflation rate: 6.6% (2002); 6.8% (2003); 6.7% (2004 est.); 7.5% (2005); 8.4% (2006); 18.8% (2007 year-over-year); 10.8% (2007 average).
Trade: Exports (2007 est.)--$44.88 billion. Imports (2007 est.)--$29.91 billion.
Gross external debt: $18.2 billion (2002); $22.9 billion (2003); $32.71 billion (2004); $43.40 billion (2005); $73.46 billion (2006); $96.37 billion (2007).
Central Bank's foreign exchange reserves: $4.96 billion (2003); $7.07 billion (2005 est.); $19.04 billion (Feb. 2008).
National (oil) fund reserves: $3.6 billion (2003); $5.1 billion (2004); $10.1 billion (2006); $22.6 billion (Feb. 2008).
Officially recognized unemployment rate: 8.7% (2003); 8.4% (2004 est.); 8.1% (2005 est.); 7.4% (2006 est.); 7.1% (2007 est.).
Population below poverty line: 13.8% (2007).

PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Kazakhstan is very ethnically diverse, with only a slight majority of Kazakhstanis being ethnic Kazakh. Other ethnic groups include Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, German, and Uyghur. Religions are Sunni Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and other. Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. The Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of the population speaks the Kazakh language. Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level, and the literacy rate is 98.4%.

Nomadic tribes have been living in the region that is now Kazakhstan since the first century BC, although the land has been inhabited at least as far back as the Stone Age. From the fourth century AD through the beginning of the 13th century, the territory of Kazakhstan was ruled by a series of nomadic nations. Following the Mongolian invasion in the early 13th century, administrative districts were established under the Mongol Empire, which eventually became the territories of the Kazakh Khanate. The major medieval cities of Taraz and Turkestan were founded along the northern route of the Great Silk Road during this period.

Traditional nomadic life on the vast steppe and semi-desert lands was characterized by a constant search for new pasture to support the livestock-based economy. The Kazakhs emerged from a mixture of tribes living in the region in about the 15th century and by the middle of the 16th century had developed a common language, culture, and economy. In the early 1600s, the Kazakh Khanate separated into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes--confederations based on extended family networks. Political disunion, competition among the hordes, and a lack of an internal market weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. The following 150 years saw the gradual colonization of the Kazakh-controlled territories by tsarist Russia.

The process of colonization was a combination of voluntary integration into the Russian Empire and outright seizure. The Little Horde and part of the Middle Horde signed treaties of protection with Russia in the 1730s and 1740s. Major parts of the northeast and central Kazakh territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire by 1840. With the Russian seizure of territories belonging to the Senior Horde in the 1860s, the tsars effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Russian Empire introduced a system of administration and built military garrisons in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia in the so-called "Great Game" between it and Great Britain. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the resentment of the Kazakh people, and by the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia's annexation largely because of the disruption it wrought upon the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 1800s, sought to preserve the Kazakh language and identity. There were uprisings against colonial rule during the final years of tsarist Russia, with the most serious occurring in 1916. The destruction of the nomadic life, prior to and during the Communist period, created a Kazakh diaspora in neighboring countries, especially western China. Since independence in 1991, the government has encouraged the return of ethnic Kazakhs by offering subsidies for returnees.

Although there was a brief period of autonomy during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Kazakhs eventually succumbed to Soviet rule. In 1920, the area of present-day Kazakhstan became an autonomous republic within Russia and, in 1936, a Soviet republic.

Soviet repression of the traditional elites, along with forced collectivization in late 1920s-1930s, brought about mass hunger and starvation, leading to civil unrest. Soviet rule, however, took hold, and a communist apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of thousands exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and later became home for hundreds of thousands evacuated from the Second World War battlefields. The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five national divisions to the Soviet Union's World War II effort.

The period of the Second World War marked an increase in industrialization and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Josif Stalin's death, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural-based economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev initiated the ambitious "Virgin Lands" program to turn the traditional pasturelands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. The Virgin Lands policy, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, sped up the development of the agricultural sector, which to this day remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan's population.

Growing tensions within Soviet society led to a demand for political and economic reforms, which came to a head in the 1980s. In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs took place in Almaty to protest Moscow's installment of a non-Kazakhstani First Secretary as leader. Soviet troops suppressed the unrest, and dozens of demonstrators were jailed. In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and find expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost. Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in October 1990. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991.

The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet command-economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Kazakh Communist Party and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy, for which it was recognized by the United States in 2002. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency. It is divided into 14 oblasts and the two municipal districts of Almaty and Astana. Each is headed by an akim (provincial governor) appointed by the president. Municipal akims are appointed by oblast akims. The Government of Kazakhstan transferred its capital from Almaty to Astana on June 10, 1998.

The president is the head of state. The president also is the commander in chief of the armed forces and may veto legislation that has been passed by the Parliament. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in office since Kazakhstan became independent. In 1995, President Nazarbayev called for a referendum that expanded his presidential powers: only he can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve Parliament, call referenda, and appoint administrative heads of regions and Astana and Almaty. The prime minister, who serves at the pleasure of the president, chairs the Cabinet of Ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government. There are three deputy prime ministers and 17 ministers in the Cabinet.

In December 2005, President Nazarbayev won a new 7-year term in an election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards. Official results gave the president 91% of the vote, although independent exit polls found this figure to be somewhat inflated. Opposition candidates Zharmakhan Tuyakbay (For a Just Kazakhstan) and Alikhan Baymenov (Ak Zhol) were able to compete freely in this election.

Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament, comprised of a lower house (the Mazhilis) and upper house (the Senate). Ninety-eight members of the Mazhilis are elected by a party-list vote. Nine members of the Mazhilis are elected by the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan. The Senate has 47 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (Maslikhats) of Kazakhstan's 16 principal administrative divisions (14 regions, or oblasts, plus the cities of Astana and Almaty). The president appoints the remaining fifteen senators. Mazhilis deputies, the government, and the president have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.

President Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won the August 2007 elections to the Mazhilis. None of the remaining political parties won a seat during the elections, which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards.

Principal Government Officials
President--Nursultan Nazarbayev
Head of Presidential Administration--Aslan Musin
Procurator General--Kairat Mami
National Security Committee (KNB) Chairman--Amangeldy Shabdarbayev
Prime Minister--Karim Masimov
First Deputy Prime Minister--Umirzak Shukeyev
Deputy Prime Minister--Yerbol Orynbayev
Deputy Prime Minister--Serik Akhmetov
State Secretary--Kanat Saudabayev
Minister of Agriculture--Akylbek Kurishbayev
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Marat Tazhin
Minister of Culture and Information--Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed
Minister of Tourism and Sports--Temirkhan Dosmukhambetov
Minister of Defense--Daniyal K. Akhmetov
Minister of Economy and Budget Planning--Bakhyt Sultanov
Minister of Education and Science--Zhanseit Tuymebayev
Minister of Environmental Protection--Nurghali Ashimov
Minister of Finance--Bolat Zhamishev
Minister of Health --Zhaksylyk Doskaliev
Minister of Industry and Trade--Vladimir Shkolnik
Minister of Interior--Serik Baymaganbetov
Minister of Justice--Rashid Tusupbekov
Minister of Labor and Social Protection--Gulshara Abdykalikova
Minister of Transport and Communication--Abelghazy Kussainov
Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources--Sauat Mynbayev
Minister of Emergency Situations--Vladimir Bozhko
Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission--Kuandyk Turgankulov
Secretary of the Security Council-- Kairbek Suleimenov
Chairman of the National Bank--Grigoriy Marchenko
Chairman of the Financial Supervision Agency--Yelena Bakhmutova

ECONOMY
Kazakhstan's economy grew by 8.5% in 2007. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10.7% in 2006, 9.7% in 2005, 9.6% in 2004, 9.2% in 2003, and 9.5% in 2002.

Kazakhstan's monetary policy has been largely well managed. However, in 2007, rapid increases in global commodity prices helped push inflation rates as high as 18.8%. Prior to this, inflation had remained relatively steady at 9.5%, up from 8.4% in 2006. Inflation from 2002-2004 was 6.6%, 6.8%, and 6.7%, respectively. Because of its strong macroeconomic performance and financial health, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2000, 7 years ahead of schedule. In March 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce graduated Kazakhstan to market economy status under U.S. trade law. The change in status recognized substantive market economy reforms in the areas of currency convertibility, wage rate determination, openness to foreign investment, and government control over the means of production and allocation of resources.

In September 2002, Kazakhstan became the first country in the former Soviet Union to receive an investment-grade credit rating from a major international credit rating agency. Estimated level of external debt in 2006 was $73.46 billion. In 2005, Kazakhstan's gross foreign debt was about $43.40 billion. Kazakhstan has been successful in reducing the ratio of government debt to GDP in recent years. In 2007, total governmental debt was $5.7 billion, which amounts to 5.5% of GDP. In 2000, total government debt equaled 21.7% of GDP. While government debt has continued to decrease, several years of aggressive private-sector borrowing and lending practices contributed to a liquidity and credit crunch in 2007. Total external debt (public and private) increased dramatically from $73.46 billion (2006) to $96.37 billion (2007), now equivalent to 94.4% of GDP. An upturn in economic growth, combined with the results of earlier tax and financial sector reforms, dramatically improved government finances from the 1999 budget deficit level of 3.5% of GDP to a deficit of 0.5% of GDP in 2005. However, the budget deficit level in 2007 was $1.8 billion, or approximately 1.7% of GDP. Government revenues grew from 19.8% of GDP in 1999 to 22.6% of GDP in 2001 to 25.7% of GDP in 2005. Government revenues in 2007, like other sectors of the economy, declined slightly to 22.7% of GDP. In 2000, Kazakhstan adopted a new tax code in an effort to consolidate these gains. On November 29, 2003 the Law on Changes to Tax Code was adopted, which reduced the value added tax (from 16% to 13%), the social tax (from 21% to 13%), and the personal income tax (from 20% to 10%). Kazakhstan furthered its reforms by adopting a new land code on June 20, 2003 and a customs code on April 5, 2003. Further revisions to the customs code were expected to be adopted in 2008.

Oil and gas is the leading economic sector. Production of oil and gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 67.2 million tons in 2007, an increase from 64.5 million tons in 2006. Kazakhstan exported 60.2 million tons of oil and gas condensate in 2007. Natural gas production in Kazakhstan in 2007 amounted to 16.6 billion cubic meters. Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 3 trillion cubic meters of gas. Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, coupled with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations. Kazakhstan's 2005 oil exports were valued at $17.4 billion, representing over 70% of overall exports. Major oil and gas fields and their recoverable oil reserves are Tengiz (7 billion barrels); Karachaganak (8 billion barrels and 1,350 billion cubic meters of natural gas); and Kashagan (7-9 billion barrels). Starting in 2004, the Government of Kazakhstan increased its take of oil deals by increasing taxation of new oil projects. In 2007, the government amended the "Law on Subsoil and Subsoil Use." The amendments give the government the right to annul or amend subsoil contracts if the contracts pose a danger to the country's national economic security interests. The government insisted it would not use the amendments retroactively to annul existing contracts.

Kazakhstan instituted an ambitious pension reform program in 1998. There are 14 saving pension funds, one of which is state controlled. The National Bank oversees and regulates the pension funds. The pension funds' growing demand for quality investment outlets triggered rapid development of the debt securities market. Pension fund capital is being invested almost exclusively in corporate and government bonds, including Government of Kazakhstan Eurobonds. The Kazakhstani banking system is developing rapidly. Its capitalization now exceeds $1 billion. The National Bank has introduced deposit insurance in its campaign to strengthen the banking sector. Several major foreign banks have branches in Kazakhstan, including ABN-AMRO, Citibank, and HSBC.

Agriculture
Agriculture accounted for 5.82% of Kazakhstan's GDP in 2007. Grain (Kazakhstan is the seventh-largest producer of wheat in the world) and livestock are the most important agricultural commodities. Agricultural land occupies more than 220 million hectares, about 68% of which consists of pasture and hay land. Chief livestock products are dairy goods, leather, meat, and wool. The country's major crops include wheat, barley, cotton, and rice. Wheat is the leading agricultural commodity in Kazakhstan's export trade. Kazakhstan harvests 14-15 million tons of wheat per year.

Natural Resources
Oil, gas, and mineral exports are key to Kazakhstan's economic success. Since 1993, Kazakhstan's extractive industries have attracted $30.7 billion in foreign investment, which represents almost 76% of the total foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan for that period. Kazakhstan has significant deposits of coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, uranium, and gold.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Kazakhstan has stable relationships with all of its neighbors. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and will serve as chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010. It also is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan also is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan established the Eurasian Economic Community in 2000 to re-energize earlier efforts at harmonizing trade tariffs and the creation of a free trade zone under a customs union. Kazakhstan is the founding member of the Conference for Interaction and Confidence in Asia. Kazakhstan also engages in regional security dialogue with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

U.S.-KAZAKHSTAN RELATIONS
The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan, on December 25, 1991, and opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992; the Embassy moved to Astana in 2006. In the years since Kazakhstan's independence, the two countries have developed a wide-ranging bilateral relationship.

U.S.-Kazakhstani cooperation in security and non-proliferation has been a cornerstone of the relationship. Kazakhstan showed leadership when it renounced nuclear weapons in 1993. The United States has assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads, weapons-grade materials, and their supporting infrastructure. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of weapons-grade uranium to the United States. In 1995 Kazakhstan removed its last nuclear warheads and, with U.S. assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels in May 2000. Kazakhstan has signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent $240 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction-related infrastructure.

Economic Relations
U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) was 24.6% of total FDI in Kazakhstan in the first half of 2007. American companies have invested about $14.3 billion in Kazakhstan since 1993. These companies are concentrated in the oil and gas, business services, telecommunications, and electrical energy sectors. Kazakhstan has made progress in creating a favorable investment climate although serious problems, including arbitrary enforcement of laws, remain. A U.S.-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively. In 2001, Kazakhstan and the United States established the U.S.-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership.

Sections 402 and 409 of the United States 1974 Trade Act require that the President submit semi-annually a report to Congress on continued compliance with the Act's freedom of emigration provisions by those countries, including Kazakhstan, that fall under the Trade Act's Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Bilateral trade in 2005 was valued at $1.64 billion, a 91% increase from 2004.

U.S. Assistance
Between 1992 and 2005, the United States provided roughly $1.205 billion in technical assistance and investment support in Kazakhstan. The programs were designed to promote market reform, to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, and democratic society, and to address security issues.

Since 1993, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has administered technical assistance programs to support Kazakhstan's transition to a market economy, fully integrated into the world trade system. These programs include cooperation in privatization, fiscal, and financial policy; commercial law; energy; health care; and environmental protection. In 2006, Kazakhstan became the first country to share directly in the cost of a U.S. Government's foreign assistance program. Through 2009, the Government of Kazakhstan will contribute over $15 million to a $40 million USAID economic development project aimed at strengthening Kazakhstan's capacity to achieve its development goals. The U.S. Commercial Service provides U.S. business internships for Kazakhstanis, supports Kazakhstani businesses through a matchmaker program and disseminates information on U.S. goods and services. Additional information is available on its website: www.buyusa.gov/kazakhstan/en/. The Peace Corps has about 140 volunteers working throughout Kazakhstan in business education, English teaching, and the development of environmental non-governmental organizations. Since 2001 and the advent of the war on terror, the U.S. has assisted Kazakhstan to combat illegal narcotics, improve border security, and, more recently combat money laundering and trafficking in persons.

The United States supports increased citizen participation in the public arena through support for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dozens of grants have been provided to support NGOs that promote an independent media, legal reform, women's rights, civic education, and legislative oversight. USAID also has provided training courses for leaders and professionals.

[Fact sheet on FY 2008 U.S. Assistance to Kazakhstan.]

Military Cooperation
Kazakhstan's military participates in the U.S.'s International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, as well as NATO's Partnership for Peace program. In 2005, U.S. Central Command conducted approximately 45 bilateral, military cooperation events with the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan and other agencies, an increase of more than 100% since 2002. Events vary in size and scope, ranging from information exchanges to military exercises.

Environmental Issues
Kazakhstan has identified a number of major ecological problems within its borders--desiccation of the Aral Sea, protection of the fragile Caspian ecosystem, remediation of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing range, cleanup of the Baykonur launching facility, extremely polluted cities, desertification, and development of mechanisms for regional transboundary water management.

To address the water management problem of the Syr Darya River, Kazakhstan and other basin states, with technical assistance from USAID/Central Asia, established the 1998 Framework Agreement on the Use of Water and Energy Resources of the Syr Darya Basin. Kazakhstan became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1999.

The United States and the European Union worked together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to establish an independent, nonprofit, and nonpolitical Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Almaty in 2001. The mission of the REC is to strengthen civil society and support sustainable development by promoting public awareness and participation in environmental decision-making among the countries of Central Asia. In 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Embassy, and Ministry of Environmental Protection signed a memorandum of understanding to provide the REC with funding for its grants program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Richard E. Hoagland
Ambassador's Secretary--Lourenda Block
Deputy Chief of Mission--Kevin Milas
Political-Economic Section Chief--Steven Fagin
Public Affairs Officer--Victoria Sloan
Senior Commercial Officer--Stuart Schaag
Management Counselor--Sarah Penhune
Consul--Christopher Beard
Regional Security Officer--Leroy Bowers
Defense Attaché--COL Michael Harrington
USAID Mission Director--William Frej
Peace Corps Director--John Sasser
Security Assistance Officer--LTC James Yentz
Centers for Disease Control Director--Michael Schmoyer (Acting)
Regional Medical Officer--Dr. Kevin Kilpatrick

U.S. Embassy Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Astana (Chancery)
22-23 Str., No.3, Ak Bulak 4.
Astana, Kazakhstan 010000
Tel: 7-(3172) 70-21-00; Fax: 7-(3172) 34-08-90

U.S. Embassy Branch Office, Almaty
97 Zholdasbekov Str., Almaty 050059
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-48-02

U.S. Commercial Service / Public Affairs Section
Samal 2, 97 Zholdasbekov St., 11th Floor
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480099
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-49-50; Fax: 7-(3272) 50-49-67, 50-48-74
E-mail: almaty.office.box@mail.doc.gov

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
41 Kazybek Street
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480100
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-76-12, 50-76-17; Fax: 7-(3272) 50-76-36

Peace Corps
257 Kablukova St,
Almaty, Kazakhstan 050060
Tel: 7-(3272) 58-45-00; Fax: 7-(3272) 58-23-15

Business Customs
In terms of business customs, Kazakhstan is more European than Asian. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names at business meetings, as well as at informal get-togethers. However, men generally do not shake women's hands in company. Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men and a suit or business dress for women. Small gifts--pens, company logo pins, memo, and books--are frequently given at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are the norm, often in both Russian and English.

Kazakhstani business people are generally less direct than American business people, and what can be accomplished in a few meetings in the United States might take more in Kazakhstan, requiring patience and discipline on the part of the U.S. business people. An experienced and competent interpreter can add invaluable context to your business meetings.

It is common in Kazakhstan to have dinner with business contacts, but usually only after establishing business contacts in a more formal setting. Business attire is worn. Usually diners share a bottle of vodka or cognac and offer toasts, stating their desire for a fruitful business relationship and warm personal relations between partners. After-hours informal meetings, dinners and toasts, as well as weekend hunting and barbecues can be very important to forge business relations.

More Information
Entry requirements. A valid passport and visa are required. The Kazakhstani Embassy in Washington, DC and the Kazakhstani Consulate in New York issue visas. As of February 2004, an invitation is no longer required for single-entry business and tourist visas, but multiple-entry visas require an invitation from an individual or organizational sponsor in Kazakhstan. The U.S. Embassy does not issue letters of invitation to citizens interested in private travel to Kazakhstan. All travelers must obtain a Kazakhstani visa before entering the country. Travelers should be aware that overstaying the validity period of a visa will result in fines and delays upon exit. Travelers may be asked to provide proof at the border of their onward travel arrangements. Travelers transiting through Kazakhstan are reminded to check that their visas allow for sufficient number of entries to cover each transit trip and to check the length of validity of the visa. Crossing the land border to and from the neighboring Kyrgyz Republic can result in delays or demands from border officials to pay fines. For complete information concerning entry requirements, U.S. citizens should contact the Kazakhstani Embassy at 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036, tel. (202) 232-5488, fax (202) 232-5845, e-mail kazakh.consul@verizon.net, or homepage http://www.kazakhembus.com. Contact also the Kazakhstani Consulate at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 586, New York, NY 10017, tel. (212) 888-3024, fax (212) 888-3025, e-mail kzconsulny@un.int, or see the homepage http://www.kazconsulny.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. All children adopted in Kazakhstan after May 2003 must obtain exit stamps from both the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs before departing.

OVIR registration. There are local Kazakhstani registration requirements. All U.S. citizens arriving in Kazakhstan through 12 international airports and the railway point of Dostyk (Druzhba) are registered at the moment of the border crossing and, as proof, receive a migration card with entry and registration marks from the Border Service of Committee of National Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Registration of U.S. citizens is also done at automobile checkpoints in Khorgos, Dostyk, Bakhty, Maikapchagai, Kordai and Kolzhat, and the seaports of Aktau and Bautino. The registration upon arrival is valid for 3 months. For stays longer than 90 days, travelers should register with the Migration Police. However, if for any reason, a U.S. citizen was not registered in the Kazakhstan Embassy or immediately upon arrival in Kazakhstan, the traveler should register with the Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) within 5 calendar days. Visitors who do not register may have to pay fines upon departure and their departure may be delayed.

Registration with the U.S. embassy. Americans living in or visiting Kazakhstan are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy Consular Section through the State Department's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov and obtain updated information on travel and security within Kazakhstan. Registration with the Embassy is different from Kazakhstani OVIR registration. It can help the U.S. Embassy contact you in case of an emergency, and it can streamline replacement of a lost or stolen passport.



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