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Nur-Sultan and Brussels step up dialogue in the human-rights sphere

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At the initiative of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Belgium, Kazakhstan Human Rights Commissioner H.E. Elvira Azimova, held video talks with H.E. Mr. Eamon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. During the conversation, the two parties discussed a broad range of issues of mutual interest for Kazakhstan and the European Commission.

Azimova informed Gilmore and his colleagues in detail about the work carried out by her office to protect civil rights and freedoms in Kazakhstan, as well as about interaction with official agencies and NGOs. In this regard, the two sides discussed various forms of co-operation between the offices of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Kazakhstan and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, including within the framework of the existing EU-Kazakhstan and EU-Central Asia dialogue mechanisms in the human dimension.

The colleagues also exchanged views on the results of Azimova’s first working trip to Brussels in mid-July 2021, including her bilateral agreements with the leadership and members of the relevant structures of the European Parliament.

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Source – Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Kingdom of Belgium

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Kazakhstan

Commentary from Benedikt Sobotka, Honorary Consul of Kazakhstan in Luxembourg, on President Tokayev's State of the Nation Address

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“We are encouraged to see a wide range of policies that will set the tone for Kazakhstan’s transformation in the years ahead, and by the country’s clear ambition to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Progress in developing the country’s net zero goals has been impressive – Kazakhstan was the first country in Central Asia to establish a national Emissions Trading Scheme to put a price on carbon. Earlier this year, the country also adopted a new Environmental Code to accelerate the shift to sustainable practices.  

"A key enabler of Kazakhstan’s transition to net zero over the next decades will be digitalization. We welcome Kazakhstan’s efforts to place digital growth at the heart of the country’s vision for the future. Over the years, Kazakhstan has taken digital transformation to a new level, investing heavily in new ‘smart city’ technologies to improve and automate city services and urban life. The country has succeeded in establishing an innovative digital ecosystem in Central Asia that has been reinforced by the creation of the Astana International Financial Centre and the Astana Hub, home to several hundreds of tech companies that enjoy preferential tax status. 

"Underlying this technological transformation has been Kazakhstan’s commitment to digital learning solutions, designed to catalyse over 100,000 IT specialists to develop technical skills that are integral to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The shift to digital learning opportunities has also been reflected in Kazakhstan’s approach to education – with plans to create 1000 new schools, the country’s commitment to upskilling youth will be key to creating an inclusive and sustainable economy of the future.”

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Kazakhstan collects 5 medals at 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

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Kazakhstan collected five medals - one gold, three silver and one bronze - at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Japan, Kazinform has learnt from the official website of the event. Kazakhstan para-powerlifter David Degtyarev lifted Kazakhstan to its only gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Kazakhstan hauled all three silver medals in judo as Anuar Sariyev, Temirzhan Daulet and Zarina Baibatina all clinched silver in Men’s -60kg, Men’s -73kg and Women’s +70kg weight categories, respectively. Kazakhstani para-swimmer Nurdaulet Zhumagali settled for bronze in Men’s 100m Breaststroke event. Team Kazakhstan is ranked 52nd in the overall medal tally of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics together with Finland. China tops the medal standing with 207 medals, including 96 gold, 60 silver and 51 bronze. Ranked second is Great Britain with 124 medals. The US is third with 104 medals.

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Zhambyl Zhabayev’s 175th anniversary: A poet who outlived his (almost) 100 years of physical life

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Zhambyl Zhabayev. Photo credit: Bilimdinews.kz.
Zhambyl Zhabayev (pictured) is not just a great Kazakh poet, he became almost a mythical figure, uniting very different epochs. Even his life span is unique: born in 1846  he died on June 22, 1945 – weeks after the defeat of Nazism in Germany. He had only eight months more to live to celebrate his 100th birthday, his centenary, writes Dmitry Babich in Kazakhstan’s Independence: 30 Years, Op-Ed.  

Now we are celebrating his 175th birthday.

Zhambyl, who was born just four years after the death of Mikhail Lermontov and nine years after the death of Alexander Pushkin – the two great Russian poets. To feel the distance, it is enough to say that their images were brought to us only by painters – photography did not exist at the time of their early deaths in bloody duels. Zhambyl breathed the same air with them…

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But Zhambyl  is also the indispensable memory of our fathers’ childhood, the evergreen “grandfatherly figure”, who seemed so close, so “one of us” not only thanks to numerous photos in newspapers. But most of all – thanks to his  beautiful, but also easily understandable verses about Kazakhstan, its nature, its people. But not only about the motherland – singing from Kazakhstan’s heartland, Zhambyl found a way to respond to the tragedy of World War II, Leningrad’s blockade, and many, many other tectonic “shifts of history” that took place in his lifetime.

The living room of the Zhambyl Zhabayev’s museum, which is located 70 km from Almaty where the poet lived in 1938-1945. Photo credit: Yvision.kz.

Could someone link these two worlds – Kazakhstan before its “Tsarist period”, the times of Pushkin and Lermontov, – and our generation, which saw the end of the Soviet Union and the success of independent Kazakhstan?

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There is only one such figure – Zhambyl.

It is amazing that his world fame came to him around 1936, at the moment when he was 90. “You are never too old to learn” – this is a reassuring statement. But “you are never too old for fame” is an even more reassuring one. Zhambyl got famous in 1936, when a Kazakh poet Abdilda Tazhibayev proposed Zhambyl for the position of the “wise old man“ of the Soviet Union (aksakal), a niche traditionally filled by the ageing poets from the Caucasus lands. Zhambyl immediately won the contest: he was not only older (his competitor from Dagestan, Suleiman Stalski, was 23 years younger), Zhambyl was certainly more colorful.  Raised near the old town of Taraz (later renamed after Zhambyl), Zhambyl had been playing dombura since the age of 14 and winning local poetic contests (aitys) since 1881. Zhambyl wore traditional Kazakh clothes and preferred to stick to the traditional protein-rich diet of the steppes, which allowed him live so long. But there was certainly something more to him – Zhambyl indeed was a poet.

A monument to Zhambyl Zhabayev in Almaty.

Critics (and some detractors) accuse Zhambyl of writing “political poetry,” of being blinded by the might (which was not always right) of the Soviet Union. There is some factual truth to that statement, but there is no aesthetic truth to it. Leopold Senghor, the legendary first president of independent Senegal, also wrote political verses, some of them about the “strength” and “might” of political “strongmen” of the 20th century. But Senghor wrote these verses sincerely – and he stayed in the history of literature. And Senghor stayed in history in a much more honorary position than the political strongmen, whom he admired.

For Zhambyl, the people of Leningrad, (now St.Petersburg) who sustained awful famine during the siege of their city by the Nazis in 1941-1944, – they were INDEED his children. In his verses, Zhambyl felt pain for every one of more than 1 million people starved to death in that majestic imperial city on the shores of the Baltic sea, whose palaces and bridges were so far away from him. For poetry, distances do not matter. It is the emotion that counts. And Zhambyl had a strong emotion. You can feel it reading his verses of a 95 years old man:

Leningraders, children of mine!

For you – apples, sweet as best wine,

For you – horses of the best breeds,

For your, fighters, most dire needs…

(Kazakhstan was famous for its apples and horse-breeding traditions.)

Leningraders, my love and pride!

Let my glance through mountains glide,

In the snow of rocky ridges

I can see your columns and bridges,

In the sound of spring torrent,

I can feel your pain, your torment…

(Verses translated by Dmitry Babich)

The famous Russian poet Boris Pasternak (1891-1960), whom Zhambyl could call a younger colleague, had huge respect for the kind of folk poetry that Zhambyl represented, wrote about this verses that “a poet can see events before they happen” and poetry reflects a “human condition” at its symbolic core.

This is certainly true of Zhambyl. His long life and work are a tale of human condition.  

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