This year the citizens of Kazakhstan will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the capital of their country. For Kazakhs every date that has any relation to Astana is special, and this is not an exaggeration. The history of the capital is studied in schools and institutes; many books, films and other creative works are dedicated to it.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan Daulet Batrashev told us about the history of Astana and what makes it so special for his compatriots.
This year the capital of Kazakhstan celebrates its 20th anniversary. In order to obtain a better grasp of its historical context, it should be said that moving the capital from Almaty to Astana in mid-90s was a controversial decision. It may be asked why at the dawn of independence when the country was busy with solving global problems, such as embarking on the unknown path of sovereignty, the country’s authorities decided to move the capital.
However, the decision of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to relocate the capital to the north ultimately proved to be correct and far-sightedness. Geographic location of Almaty at the edge of the country was not conducive to the priority task of preserving the territorial integrity of the young nation. Secondly, Almaty offered only a limited space for capital’s expansion. And, the last but not least, the Head of State was looking for a way to lift the nation’s spirit, to make people believe in their country and their ability to address big challenges. Thus, the new metropolis became a locomotive of Kazakhstan, and its construction made a lasting contribution to the development of the entire country.
Over the years, the capital has become the symbol of Kazakhstan’s independence, success of President Nazarbayev‘s initiatives and the center of social, political and cultural life of the country. Today it is a modern city with its own architectural style encapsulating the best Eastern traditions and the modern Western trends. The scope of the changes that have taken place in the life of the city over these years is astounding.
Astana’s population has increased manifold. The city has become the cultural, educational, and medical center not only for Kazakhstan, but for the entire Central Asian region. The capital city is surrounded by the ‘green belt’ that gradually transforms its climate, in the past renowned for its severity.
The move of the capital city has offered young and ambitious people many opportunities to untap their potential and carve careers in many fields; it has formed a new generation of leaders who now build and shape the new capital of Kazakhstan.
The strength and power of the nation, that for the first time in history built its own capital, has concentrated in Astana and given a powerful impulse to the development of the entire country and drawn attention of the global community.
Many international organizations unveil their representative offices in Astana. Various events organized by Kazakhstan bring together the most prominent politicians, scientists and businessmen.
Astana has hosted many international events of major importance. For example, the OSCE Summit held in Astana in 2010 resulted in deep reforms and became one of the milestones in the history of the organization. The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held in Astana on a regular basis has become an important dialogue platform for representatives of various confessions, including conflicting ones.
The International specialized exhibition EXPO-2017 themed ‘Future Energy’ was one of the largest events held in the capital of Kazakhstan. It showcased the latest trends in the sphere of green technologies.
115 countries and 22 international organizations participated in the exhibition. The total number of visitors almost reached 4 million people, considerably exceeding the initially expected mark of 2 million. It is yet another project that put Astana on the map.
Thanks to EXPO, Astana now has a new modern district. The buildings constructed there to room the pavilions of the exhibition will be used in the future. The key attraction of the exhibition – the Nur Alem pavilion – has been transformed into a museum and fills in its visitors on the latest innovations in the sphere of renewable energy sources.
The next step in the evolution of Astana is its transformation into a major international financial center. After the EXPO, it is another challenge of global scale, which is practically achieved. “Astana” International Financial Center (AIFC) plans to attract 100 companies until the end of this year and bring their number to 500 in three years. AIFC will give further impetus to the development of Astana, making it a global city of international magnitude. However, purely economically Astana has long been called a successful business project. The plan of the authorities is to create a symbiosis: combining economic success with the development of cultural life of the capital, giving priority to convenience, comfort and security of the capital.
At the recent Astana Economic Forum last May it was announced that that the city has already recovered all the funds invested in its construction – more than 2 trillion tenge, which exceeds 6 billion US dollars. This clearly shows why Astana is called the locomotive of development of Kazakhstan’s economy. With the emergence of the new capital, the construction sector of the economy had a domino effect on other sectors and pulled the development of the rest.
By building Astana, President Nazarbayev demonstrated the possibilities of our country to set and achieve ambitious goals rapidly and efficiently. Even more valuable than economic indicators are the messages that Kazakhstan sends to the world. Astana has become a capital of global importance. It has demonstrated its potential of coping with major challenges such as EXPO or international political, economic and cultural summits whose lists of speakers become more impressive with each passing year. Since last year the capital of Kazakhstan served as a platform for peace talks on Syria becoming one of major venues of international multilateral diplomacy.
Astana’s main achievement is that its construction that began in the first days of Kazakhstan’s independence bolstered people’s faith in the future. It means that Nursultan Nazarbayev, the main architect of our capital, has achieved his goal.
“Astana is the symbol of Kazakhstan’s renewal, it is the symbol of the inexhaustible source of creative energy of our people, the symbol of their faith in their own powers, the symbol of hope and confidence of the nation in its prosperous future and the future of their descendants,” Nursultan Nazarbayev said in his book “In the Heart of Eurasia”.