UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary on Kazakhstan’s role in EC’s Global Gateway initiative

ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Dmitry Mariyasin, UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary, gave an interview to Jibek Joly TV host Kunsaya Kurmet on the sidelines of the Astana International Forum 2023 focusing on the possibility of establishing the UN-led regional SDGs center in Almaty and the role Kazakhstan can play in the Global Gateway strategy, Kazinform correspondent reports.

At the start of the interview, Dmitry Mariyasin thanked the government of Kazakhstan for inviting the UNECE, adding that the forum in the Kazakh capital is impressive and well done organizationally with a really representative set of speakers and participants.

When asked about the possibility of establishing a UN-led regional SDGs center in Almaty, the initiative recently spearheaded by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary said the UN is aware of this very interesting initiative by the government of Kazakhstan.

Mariyasin went on to thank Kazakhstan for being such a staunch supporter of the United Nations and the global and regional work on the sustainable development goals. «Both regional commissions that cover Kazakhstan, the UN Regional Commission for Europe, which I represent and the UN Regional Commission for the Pacific have been in talks with the government about this idea. And should the UN Secretary-General take a decision to establish such a center in partnership with the government we will be very pleased to support,» he said.

The UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary highlighted that Kazakhstan has been tackling the situation of the current geopolitical tensions as a country really committed to neutrality and impartiality in line with the values that the UN shares.

«It is not easy for any country, it is especially tough for the region of Central Asia which is dependent on trade flows, transport routes and is in a way a connector between East and West. So when there are tensions people in Central Asia might suffer, but there are also opportunities that come out of it. I think one needs to be able to differentiate the very complex geopolitical issues and what's in it for small and medium enterprises, for freight forwarders, for various sectors of the economy where Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan can benefit,» the speaker noted, adding that any decisions that are taken globally need to be taken with long-term sustainable development perspective in mind.

«I think Kazakhstan is doing really well at exploring and using opportunities of its geographical location. Kazakhstan is at the crossroads literally, geographically at the crossroads. And, for example, the ambitious plans to launch the third railway crossing with China which I had a chance to discuss with the government of Kazakhstan earlier today is a good example of smart future-oriented investment,» said Mariyasin, also mentioning the importance of the work on several routes of the Middle Corridor.

He continued by emphasizing that building roads is not enough. «You need to have an investment strategy around infrastructure that will support those roads. You need to create jobs along the corridors making them development corridors. You need to understand the market prospects for the goods and then you need connectivity. You need border crossings to operate smoothly,» he noted.

During the interview, he also touched upon Kazakhstan’s involvement in the Global Gateway strategy.

«Global Gateway is an extremely important initiative of the European Union. Kazakhstan is developing a strategic partnership with the European Union. For example, we took note of the recently signed agreement that focuses on critical minerals which are a priority for the European Union and, frankly, for the world. Critical minerals are literally critical for green transition, for green energy transition, fog digitalization. Kazakhstan, a country that is rich in mineral resources, including critical minerals, has partnered with EU strategically to become a supplier. Global Gateway is about sustainability focused infrastructure investment and we are looking forward to hearing more news about specific projects in Kazakhstan that for example will help the country implement sustainable mining practices,» he said.