The President took part in the forum of sister cities in Astana
5 July 2023

Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the opening ceremony of the forum of sister cities of the capital “25th anniversary of Astana. New perspectives. New opportunities".

In his speech, the President expressed gratitude to the mayors of the twin cities and guests from different countries who arrived in the capital of Kazakhstan. He emphasized that this year Astana is celebrating a significant date - its 25th anniversary.

– A quarter of a century ago, the capital was moved from the snow-white foothills of Alatau to the endless steppes of Saryarka. The foundation of a new city was laid on the coast of Yesil. In this hall there are former akims of the capital, honorary citizens of the city, labor veterans, cultural, scientific and sports figures, scientists, teachers, and civil servants. All of them took an active part in the construction of Astana, which became the stronghold of Independent Kazakhstan, and made a great contribution to the transformation of a provincial Soviet town into a modern metropolis. I express my sincere gratitude to you. Of course, the construction of Astana became one of the most significant events in the history of Independent Kazakhstan. As you know, the decision to move the capital was not easy. Extensive work has been done. It was a very difficult period for the country: the economy was in decline, people were not ready for market relations. During this difficult time, on the initiative of the First President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, the Supreme Council on July 6, 1994 decided to move the capital to the city of Akmola. Akmola officially became the main city of the country on December 10, 1997. 25 years ago, on May 6, 1998, Akmola was renamed Astana. The chronicle of the country's main city is closely intertwined with the history of Independent Kazakhstan. Undoubtedly, the initiative to move the capital was the right step from a geopolitical point of view. This was an important and historically timely decision, which largely predetermined the future of our people,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

According to him, this initiative of the First President has turned into a new national idea. Therefore, we need to adequately and fairly evaluate the contribution of Nursultan Nazarbayev. The head of state believes that in a Just Kazakhstan one must be able to distinguish white from black, understand where the truth is and where the lie is, since this directly affects the future of our country. The young capital gave a powerful impetus to the prosperity of Independent Kazakhstan and opened the way to renewal and revival. A number of major events were held. The speech especially emphasized that today Astana serves as a platform for interreligious dialogue and spiritual diplomacy, and there is every reason to call the capital the cradle of unity and prosperity. This is where the most important decisions are made. The leader of Kazakhstan expressed confidence that this will continue to be the case.

– Our capital has a bright future. Therefore, we pay special attention to the implementation of the idea of a “green city”. Our capital must, first of all, become a comfortable city for its residents to live in. In addition, Astana is the largest financial center in the region. Over 2,000 companies from 75 countries have chosen the Astana International Financial Center to conduct their business. Today, the AIFC has attracted $8 billion of investment into our country. This is a good indicator. World politicians call Astana a platform for peace; countries with very different positions and interests establish dialogue here and find ways to mutual understanding. I am convinced that the capital will continue its development as an important center of our geopolitical region,” the President said.

In his opinion, capitals and large cities are the focus of political, economic and cultural life, playing the role of flagships of the progressive progress of states. They accumulate powerful creative potential, attracting investments, innovative technologies and, most importantly, human capital.

– It is people, their creative energy, unique knowledge, creative ideas and patriotism that are the key factor in the success of nations. Therefore, the issues of effective city management and systematic study of current trends in urbanism are becoming strategically important for every country looking to the future, and, of course, for Kazakhstan. It is no coincidence that one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to urban development. In Kazakhstan, we pay close attention to this area. The main vector of urban development is set by Astana, which is one of the fastest growing capitals in the world. Over the past quarter century, the territory of the main city of our country has tripled and the population quadrupled. According to expert forecasts, the number of capital residents will reach two million by 2030. Since acquiring capital status, the city’s economic potential has grown more than a hundred times and now accounts for over 10% of the country’s GDP,” said the Head of State.

The President believes that impressive figures do not always indicate the harmonious development of the city. In his opinion, the main indicator of the success of megacities should be the quality of life of their residents. Therefore, when constructing and improving the capital, it is important to follow the principle “not people for the city, but the city for people.”

– A fundamentally important aspect is to create the most comfortable urban environment for all residents and guests of Astana. We have consciously chosen and are moving along the path of building a society of equal opportunities for everyone. Therefore, we attach great importance to inclusive development based on mutual responsibility and civic solidarity. All city residents should have equal access to educational facilities, healthcare, cultural and leisure institutions, parks and public spaces. This also applies to the need to increase the accessibility of urban infrastructure for citizens with special needs. Frankly, we still have to improve our work here. We have to systematically eliminate disproportions in the development of urban areas. The situation when the central streets are being polished, and slums are growing on the outskirts, is incompatible with the idea of a fair society,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The head of state specifically focused on the special role of technology, which opens up new opportunities for better management of cities.

– The implementation of the “smart city” concept allows us to provide new digital services to citizens, significantly improve the energy efficiency of buildings, radically optimize traffic and improve safety on the streets. This is the most pressing task for us. It also helps people build stronger connections and engages citizens and businesses to build a vibrant urban community that can raise and solve pressing issues. Astana is moving in this direction and has already achieved some success. The city was included in the top 21 according to the authoritative international organization Intelligent Community Forum as one of the most intelligent communities in the world. The capital also created the largest international technopark of IT startups in Central Asia, Astana Hub, which makes a significant contribution to the digital transformation of not only our country, but also the entire region, the President said.

Summing up his speech, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that today the country is implementing large-scale institutional reforms aimed at building a Just Kazakhstan. Important political reforms have been implemented that have significantly increased citizen participation in government decision-making processes, especially at the local level.

– Residents of the cities of our country now have a real opportunity to elect deputies who enjoy their authority and trust. This makes a great contribution to the establishment of the principles of responsible citizenship and allows people to really influence the improvement of life in their hometown. However, all our reforms, and I am deeply convinced of this, make no sense without a reboot of the value system of our society. For sustainable progress of Kazakhstan, a profound change in the mental paradigm and updating of people's behavior patterns is required. Therefore, I place special hopes on our youth, young residents of our cities and capital,” the Head of State concluded.

During the event, the mayor of Astana Zhenis Kasymbek, the mayor of Rabat Asmaa Rhlalou (Morocco), the head of the National Capital Administration of Nusantara Bambang Susantono (Indonesia), the governor of the Penza region Oleg Melnichenko (Russia), the mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin (Russia, Tatarstan) also spoke. , Secretary of State of the Federal District of Brasilia Felipe Ramon Moro Rodriguez (Brazil), Mayor of Bishkek Emilbek Abdykadyrov (Kyrgyzstan), Deputy Mayor of Belgrade Vesna Vidovic (Serbia).