By Rapil Zhoshybayev : –
EXPO-2017 for Kazakhstan is a national project, the greatest opportunity for the country to investigate new sources of power and green technologies. This involves billions of dollars being invested not only to prepare for the EXPO but also, in turn, to ensure that the exhibition site is turned to good use in the future. Nearly all the 160 BIE member countries voted for Kazakhstan to host this exhibition, which is why we have a responsibility to them and to the rest of the world to make this a huge success. The President of Kazakhstan has set up some challenging objectives; we need to turn EXPO-2017 into the transit centre of the third industrial revolution, which includes the rise of an alternative economy and the creation of new, high-tech materials, sources of renewable power and a skilled workforce.
Construction on the exhibition grounds will follow the principles of a green economy, using smart-power supply networks and buildings with renewable power sources. This unique and highly advanced building project will spur on the technological development of the country. Not only will the capital get a new district with modern buildings and infrastructure, but also new premises for implementing innovative ideas after the exhibition. What is important is that new technologies and innovations will become a part of the life of the republic.
We guarantee to provide appropriate accommodation and working conditions for the participants of the exhibition. We will take all measures necessary to provide visa support, issuing visas for the representatives of the participating countries and ensuring that guarantees relating to customs and local taxation are in place. Eighty-six years ago, a Convention on International Exhibitions was signed in Paris that, in turn, established the Bureau of International Exhibitions (BIE) and put down the rules outlining the number of exhibitions, their order and characteristics. The plenipotentiary representative of the county is required to observe these rules.
I will be visiting a great number of countries whose representatives are expected to participate in the exhibition. In this sense, 2015 will be a crucial year for negotiating and signing participation agreements. We are also holding meetings to discuss technical and other issues. In regards to the entry regime, we have piloted a visa-free regime for 10 countries: the USA, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the UAE, the Republic of Korea and Japan. For one year, the residents of these countries will be able to enter Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 15 days. We are now considering extending the duration of the stay. As we implement this project we will discover any disadvantages and administrative barriers, assess how well prepared the country’s tourism industry is for the influx of visitors and how we can put in place all the simple but necessary services that our visitors will require. We will expand the countries included in the visa-free regime and we have already identified countries with which we are planning to sign mutual agreements on visas. We are also about to introduce electronic and group visas. At the same time, we are working on improving our system of border and migration control.
Two bus stations and a railway station are under construction in Astana; work on a new terminal for our international airport will begin soon. We plan to build 70 more hotels. Exhibition pavilions and new housing spread out over 173 hectares will be constructed over the next three years, so the face of the city will be completely different by 2017. The Safe City programme is also in full swing.
Taking into account the experience of other countries, we are considering how to use the pavilions of EXPO-2017 as cultural spaces, housing and related buildings as effectively as possible once the exhibition is over. We hope that after 2017 the exhibition area with its unique and innovative buildings will become a new centre for Astana. Most of these buildings will use green energy, including wind and solar. Part of the complex will become an additional campus for Nazarbayev University, where its students and scientists will be able to develop new technologies.
( Writer is First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan )