Zhalgas Adilbayev: Kazakhstan and Mongolia have not fully used their cooperation potentialsThe Mongol Messenger
MONTSAME interviewed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Mongolia Zhalgas Adilbayev
- You were appointed as an Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Mongolia and started your tenure six months ago. What works have you done in this period?
- Six months is too short time to fulfill weighty works. However, the sides have successfully organized an official visit of Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh to Nur-Sultan, which was made 25 years later. This was a historic visit. It not only made bilateral relations more active but also indicated that it is proper to pay high-level visits frequently. During the visit, Kazakhstan-Mongolia business forum has been held and the sides have signed eight commercial documents.
Aside from it, the two sides are attaching attention on developing cooperation in the spheres of culture and humanities, specifically, to organize Days of Kazakhstan Culture in Mongolia and Cultural Days of Mongolia in Kazakhstan in addition to opening ‘Abai Cultural Center’ in Ulaanbaatar city. Currently, corresponding organizations of Mongolia are studying the issue. -Economic partnership becomes main factor to develop bilateral ties.
- How do you see current economic cooperation of the two countries?
- Our two countries have not been fully using possibilities to cooperate in socio-economic sector. For instance, bilateral trade turnover reached USD 59.9 million in 2019, of which USD 58.2 million was export products from Kazakhstan and USD 1.74 million was import making from Kazakhstan.
Also, the amount of trade tends to decline year to year. The volume of bilateral trade turnover was USD 74.8 million in 2017, but it was decreased to USD 67.4 million by 2018. In other words, Kazakhstan is still an exporting country for foreign trade of Mongolia.
- How do you see the possibilities to develop the economic partnership between the two countries?
- Kazakhstan has been mainly supplying food products such as pastry, rapeseed, oil crop seed, coffee, chocolate and cigarette as well as engine and other automobile parts to Mongolia. While, Mongolia mostly exports meat and meat products, post stamp, cashmere, carpet and woolen products.
We have possibilities to develop agricultural cooperation further. Specifically, to process hide and leather and sell these products in the domestic market. The Kazakh side is ready to supply wheat flour, rape and vegetable oils to the Mongolian market. As our two countries have similar climate, we are also possible to supply public transport vehicles that work in any weather condition.
- Mongolian and Kazakh people have many similar things. However, it seems that we do not know each other well. In other words, people of the two countries do not mutually travel much except of Kazakh people in Bayan-Ulgii aimag. What is the reason for this in your opinion?
- Actually, Kazakh and Mongolian people are deeply connected with their history. Mongolians are the people, who take special place in the nomads’ history. Tribes such as the Khereid, Jalair, Kipchak, Naiman and Khongirad were included in Chinggis Khaan’s or the nomads’ empire and it became the origin of the Kazakh people thereafter. In addition, Kazakh and Mongolian languages are in the Altaic language family and they are connected to each other.
Mongolia and Kazakhstan are separated only by 40 kilometers of land and 120 thousand Kazakh people live in Mongolia are becoming a bridge that link our two nations. Aside from these factors, people’s and cultural similarities are the key factors that connect the people of our two countries.
As I mentioned above, Kazakhstan and Mongolia have not fully used cooperation potentials in the areas of economy, tourism and investment. Having no direct flight and road relations for many years have been the reasons for inactive relations.
Nevertheless, the Governments of Kazakhstan and Mongolia are now attaching significant importance to boost bilateral ties in the future. One of the clear examples is conclusion of cooperation agreements between the Governments and entities during Mongolian Premier U.Khurelsukh’s visit to Kazakhstan. As reflected in an agreement, the sides agreed to increase the number of Mongolian students to study at the top universities and colleges of Kazakhstan, to 25.
Besides of it, 'Kazakh Film Days’ was organized in Ulaanbaatar city for the first time in 2019. We plan to hold such event annually in the future. Moreover, the two sides should organize joint cultural and sports contests and mutual visits of artists and scholars. In my point of view that implementing such projects will give certain understanding about culture and tradition of Kazakh people to Mongolians alongside strengthening cultural relations.
- High-level visits are crucial to make bilateral ties more active. Could you highlight high-level visits made in recent years?
-Regular high-level visits definitely affect bilateral relations, giving stimulus to implementation of concluded contracts and agreements and advancing cooperation in mutually interested areas. A wide range of reciprocal visit defines political dialogue.
Heads and politicians of our two countries often hold meetings when taking part in international events. For instance, bilateral representatives meet regularly at the Asia-Europe Meeting and other meetings and conferences that are held by the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the World Trade Organization as well as other organizations committed to strengthen cooperation and trust in Asia. Furthermore, bilateral inter-parliamentary cooperation has been developing sustainably.
Although the two countries are geographically close, Former President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar officially visited Kazakhstan in 1998 or 22 years ago.
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan paid a working visit to Mongolia in 2016 while the head of the Government of Mongolia visited Nur-Sultan city in 2019.
- Is there any official visit planned this year?
- Yes, there is. The official visit of Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh paid in October, 2019 has become a big stimulus to advance bilateral relations. This year, Head of the Government of Kazakhstan A.Mamin will be visiting your country. Moreover, Mongolian press reported that President Kh.Battulga is set to visit Kazakhstan. This has significant importance to intensify bilateral ties. Therefore, the Kazakhstan’s side is giving high significance to this visit.
Furthermore, 8th Meeting of the Kazakhstan-Mongolia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation will take place in Ulaanbaatar city this year.
- Could you present some of the works planned to fulfill during your tenure of Ambassador? On what matters would you pay more attention to develop relations between Mongolia and Kazakhstan?
- First of all, we should hold the 8th Intergovernmental Commission Meeting to define directions and contracts and agreements to realize in the coming two years. Heads of the Governments of the two countries agreed to operate direct flight en route Ulaanbaatar-Almaty during their meeting in October 2019. Furthermore, we give special attention on Kazakhstan’s manufacturers’ meeting and trade and economic activities to be held in Ulaanbaatar city. The two events will give big stimulus to collaboration in the fields of economy, foreign trade and investment. According to an agreement, a gold and silver refinery plant should be built and commissioned in this December. Financing for the construction of the refinery and issues related to introduce new technologies in Mongolia have not resolved yet. We missed six months period due to having no funding and it is difficult to imagine that the companies in charge would execute the works within the scheduled period. Additionally, relevant organizations of the two countries have to provide assistance on completion of preparation works of draft agreement to be established between Mongolia and Kazakhstan on issuing pension. Regular talks on this matter has to be held within the first half of 2020.
This year will mark the 750th anniversary of foundation of the Golden Horde, 1150th birth anniversary of renowned scientist Al-Farabi and the 175th birth anniversary of renowned poet Abai Kunanbayev in Kazakhstan while 800th anniversary of foundation of Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol empire will be celebrated in Mongolia. In conjunction with it, we submitted a proposal to the relevant organizations of your country on study of making a route for tourists through Turkestan region of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has inseparable connection with four countries in Central Asia with its history, culture and economy and Mongolia could use it in developing partnership in tourism sector.
If Mongolian tourists make their travel itinerary appropriately, it is possible for them to visit cities such as Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva besides of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Turkestan and Aktau cities. In other words, they can travel through Central Asia. In doing so, the sides need to regularize direct flight between Ulaanbaatar and Nur-Sultan and it will become an advantage to Mongolian tourists.