On Tuesday evening, December 4, the Embassy of Kazakhstan to Israel celebrated its 27th Independence day at the Ambassador’s Residence in Herzliya, together with ambassadors, politicians and diplomats from around the world.
The event began with the anthems of Kazakhstan and Israel. As this year’s celebration coincided with the holiday of Hanukkah, a Menorah was lit as well. It was noted that in Astana,this year governmental permission had been given for a public Hanukkah lighting in Astana for the first time in years, so the miracles of Hanukkah and the message of its lights would be shared in Kazakhstan with all the passersby.
Following the lighting ceremony and words from the rabbi, Ambassador Doulat Kuanyshev gave his speech. The ambassador welcomed guests to the 27 year Independence celebration of Kazakhstan. He also wished his guests a Happy Hanukkah.
Ambassador Kuanyshev noted that Hanukkah lights were on display outside the Pyramid of Peace and Reconciliation, one of the top tourist attractions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. He also noted that there would be lightings in seven synagogues around the country.
The Ambassador welcomed two former ambassadors of Israel to Kazakhstan, Israel Mey-Ami and Eliyahu Tasman, and thanked them for their contributions to the development of relations between the countries. In a sign of how these relations have grown, he cited the 2016 visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kazakhstan, where he met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Israel is the 5th biggest trading partner of Kazakhstan among Asian partners, reaching $368 million in trade through the first nine months of 2018. Israelis can travel to Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 30 days. Yet there is still much room to grow in these relations, and the ambassadors noted efforts to resume direct flights between the countries, and easier visa-free travel.
Kazakhstan’s status is the largest economy in Central Asia, and a GDP estimate for this year of 160 billion dollars, with competitive advantages including its unique climate for crop, husbandry and agricultural production. This offers significant potential for future investment and trade opportunities, in particular for an exchange of technological know-how.
On the subject of international diplomacy, the ambassador stated that Kazakhstan’s main goal had been to promote the unique global model of inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, and inter-religious dialogue, understanding and non-discrimination based on the unique Kazakh model. He mentioned that Astana has hosted many high level meetings like OSCE and OIC Summits, Astana peace talks, EXPO 2017, and is one of the most important platforms for dialogue dialogue between conflicting parties in Syria. For years Israeli representatives, including chief rabbis and Christian clergy leaders, have attended the annual Congress of World and Traditional Religions in Astana.
Finally, the ambassadors stressed Kazakhstan's priority to work as an objective and neutral mediator and bridge builder in the context of its position s a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Yoel Razvazov spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Razvazov offered his congratulations, and also spoke about the strong Israel-Kazakhstan relations, and about how thankful Israel is for Kazakhstan's help to the Jews during the holocaust. Minister Elkin also mentioned the bright future of the the Israel-Kazakhstan relations. Following the speeches guests enjoyed dinner, including a kosher table from a local restaurant specializing in Central Asian cuisine.
Among the many distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ehud Olmert the 12th former Prime Minister of Israel; former Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Silvan Shalom; Israeli Minister of Environmental protection Ze'ev Elkin; Tony (Antoanet) Levy, External Relations Officer (ERO) for the President's Office at the Holon Institute of Technology and Zina Polyanski Chairman of the Israel -Kazakhstan friendship Association.