The Director for Central Asia Andreas Peschke visited Kazakhstan, the second-largest country of the former Soviet Union, on 26 and 27 January. With its giant territory, geographical location and great energy resources, it plays a crucial role at the heart of Central Asia.
Kazakhstan is to host the 2017 Expo on the topic of “Future Energy”. During talks with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Volkov, Peschke emphasised the opportunities promised by this major event. He also called for an international observer mission to be invited to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of March.
Kazakhstan lies at the heart of the emerging Eurasian transport routes from China via Central Asia to Europe and the Middle East. Already today, goods trains travel from China’s east coast via Kazakhstan to Duisburg in Germany three times each week. As part of its OSCE Chairmanship, Germany will hold an international conference on the topic of “connectivity”. Peschke invited his Kazakh interlocutors to play an active part in and send high-ranking officials to this conference.
At their official talks and at meetings with representatives from civil society, Peschke expressly called for an open approach to be taken towards civil society in order to harness its creative potential for social development. Kazakhstan still does poorly in international indexes in the area of freedom of the press and corruption.
Meeting with German minority in Almaty
In addition to the capital Astana, Peschke also travelled to Almaty, a hub of business and culture at the foot of the Tian Shan mountains. He visited the Goethe-Institut and met representatives of the German minority while he was there. Of the one million people who once lived in the country, Kazakhstan is still home to 180,000 ethnic Germans, a minority that publishes its own newspaper (www.deutsche-allgemeine-zeitung.de). Conversely, “Kazakh-Germans” are to be found in such places as the Bundestag and Federal Foreign Office today.