Kazakhstan’s quarter century of bilateral relations with the United States has been positive and productive, forging a partnership that is making a difference across a range of issues. In this new era, Kazakhstan and the United States are working together to support mutual interests and address global challenges that face both our nations. At the same time, Kazakhstan has the capacity to do more. Its potential has not been fully realized, and nor should it be lost.
In early 1853, the United States for the first time hosted the Expo World Fair in New York City. Continuing the success of London’s World Fair of 1852, the New York Fair showcased to the world new industrial achievements and demonstrated national pride of a relatively young nation of Americans. This fair was symbolized by the construction of all-glass-and-steel Crystal Palace.
It is fitting that Kazakhstan, which is an old civilization but a new country, will host Expo 2017 this summer in its new capital, Astana, holding the same lofty expectations that the United States held as a young nation. The theme “Future Energy” is as important and relevant as any expo theme and we expect more than 5 million visitors from 115 countries, including the United States, to participate. Expo 2017 is a significant opportunity for the United States and one that should not be missed.
It is also a big moment for the region. For the first time such a large international event will be held in Central Asia. Kazakhstan’s goal is for Expo to showcase the latest knowledge and development in traditional, clean, and alternative energy from across the world to help countries make the switch to greener economies. Our President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for Expo 2017 to drive Kazakhstan’s third industrial revolution, especially by focusing on renewable power, new hi-tech industries, and the creation of a highly skilled workforce.
The United States is playing a key role in Expo 2017 and this is symbolic of Kazakhstan’s broader relationship with the United States, a multifaceted relationship that has achieved significant success on the global stage.
Kazakhstan and President Nazarbayev have hosted numerous regional conferences focused on counter-terrorism in Central Asia. As one of the few countries that has voluntarily given up nuclear weapons, Kazakhstan has been and will continue to be a partner for the United States in its ongoing efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation around the world.
In the energy sector, Kazakhstan is commercializing innovative renewable and alternative energy technologies, exploring new reserves in its sizable Tengiz and Kashagan oil and gas fields together with American companies, and working to build trade and transport networks across Central Asia that bolster regional economies, including Afghanistan. Finally, Kazakhstan is continuing its role as a global leader in the promotion of interfaith dialogue for religious tolerance and conflict resolution.
Expo 2017 represents a clear opportunity for the United States and Kazakhstan to expand their excellent political and security relations further into the realm of economics, investment, and bilateral commercial deals. The United States government and the U.S. private sector have already made a significant commitment to Expo. American companies understand its value in showcasing the technology and innovation that the United States holds in energy. EXPO 2017 should be seen as the first step in a larger effort to leverage Kazakhstan’s unique standing among American friends and partners around the world, using the bilateral relationship to help address issues of critical importance to the United States.
The United States and Kazakhstan have both entered a new era – one defined by innovative thinking and steadfast focus on the need to achieve results. We must seize the moment.