LONDON, 11 December 2018 – Photo exhibitions titled “Astana – the Heart of Eurasia" and “Undiscovered Kazakhstan" were organised by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK at a reception devoted to Kazakhstan's Independence Day, the 20th anniversary of Astana and the Day of the First President of Kazakhstan.
The event was held at the Banqueting House, the only remaining component of the Palace of Whitehall, which served as the official residence of the British monarchs in the 17-18 centuries. The historic building is located near the Palace of Westminster – the British Parliament, and across the street from 10 Downing Street – the residence of the UK Prime Minister. Prominent politicians, scientists, artists, business executives, representatives of the diplomatic corps and journalists attended in the event. Among the honoured guests were the UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan, UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan Baroness Emma Nicholson, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Kazakhstan Bob Stewart, members of both houses of the UK Parliament, the Alderman of the City of London Emma Edhem and others.
In his opening remarks, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the UK Erlan Idrissov summed up the results of the year and noted the positive development of Kazakh-British relations which is proved by meetings and visits at various levels. Ambassador Idrissov emphasised that the recent meeting of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, which took place in Brussels during the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, gave an additional impulse to bilateral relations. He also highlighted Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister Askar Zhumagaliyev's visit to the UK aimed at establishing cooperation in digital economy, the visit by British parliamentarians to Kazakhstan, the recent meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between the foreign ministries of the two states, the fifth meeting of the Kazakhstan-British Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation, the Kazakhstan Global Investment Forum 2018, the Astana International Financial Centre's (AIFC) presentation in London and many other events.
The Kazakh diplomat also told the guests about the plans of the Embassy for the coming year, including the cultural events within the Ruhani Zhangyru programme and President Nazarbayev's recent article titled “Seven Facets of the Great Steppe".
In his congratulatory speech, Sir Duncan stressed that “whatever our future relationship is with the EU, we will remain committed to a very strong relationship with Kazakhstan." He also noted the mutual intention of Kazakhstan and the UK to transform the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU into a bilateral agreement between Kazakhstan and the UK in order to further strengthen the strategic partnership. Congratulating Kazakhstan on its successful tenure as the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Sir Duncan stressed the willingness of the British side to continue to cooperate with Kazakhstan on the international stage.
Baroness Nicholson stressed the importance of maintaining close trade and investment relations between Kazakhstan and the UK. Highlighting the importance of the privatisation programme underway in Kazakhstan, Nicholson commended the successful dual listing of Kazatomprom National Company on the London Stock Exchange and the Astana International Exchange which took place last November.
The guests of the reception also got acquainted with the “Kazakhstan – Territory of Peace and Harmony" international exhibition brought to London by Kazakhstan's Museum of Peace and Harmony with the assistance of the Kazakh Embassy. Another highlight of the reception was the ethno-corner with decorations of a Kazakh yurt. The guests also took a virtual 3D tour of Astana, tried Kazakh traditional cuisine, took pictures with actors dressed as ancient batyrs (warriors) and enjoyed a cultural programme. They especially enjoyed the performance of a Kazakh folk dance melody “Qamazhai" on the Scottish bagpipes by the famous master of this musical instrument Matthew McRae, as well as the “Saryarka" kui (Kazakh traditional musical composition) written by the legendary Qurmangazy and performed by 14-year-old schoolchildren from Kazakhstan Abilmansur Abdirazakov and Almat Suleimenov.
According to an old Kazakh tradition, when leaving the event, all the guests received small “sarqyts" (present bags) with Kazakhstan-made sweets and chocolates.