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Nazarbayev criticises EXPO-2017 preparations

Photo © Turar Kazangapov Photo © Turar Kazangapov

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has criticized the preparations for the upcoming EXPO-2017 in Astana and urged to draw on the experience of Lisbon and Shanghai, Tengrinews reports citing the press office of Akorda.

The Kazakh President conducted a meeting dedicated to the preparations for the EXPO-2017. He once again stressed the importance of high quality preparations and hosting of the international exhibition.

"This is a major project that enables us to show the world what Kazakhstan is capable of. Aside from issues in construction, there are weaknesses in other areas. So, despite having a specialized commissioner, it is still unclear how many countries are taking part in the exhibition. Meanwhile, other countries that are hosting the exhibition after us are already leading an active work. As for us, it is complete silence. There is no clear understanding of conditions for visitors, effects of taking part in the exhibition, the number of sponsors participating in the project, the number of local and international tourists visiting and which cultural events are taking place during the EXPO-2017," President of Kazakhstan said.

Nazarbayev stressed a number of issues that need to be solved. He specially mentioned the construction works taking place in the capital. According to Nazarbayev, construction of all venues will be completed by August or September 2016. 

"At the same time, there are a lot of organizational problems such as lack of coordination, delays is provision of solutions for urgent issues and weak organizational management. Today, the main reason behind the delays in preparation of the design estimate documentation is lack of project management. Development of different sections of the main documentation was entrusted to several different organizations. Land around the exhibition area is not being rationally used. In addition, construction is being overpriced, which leads to embezzlement of funds. Financing is another issue that requires immediate attention. Considering the decreasing prices of the goods that we export, our budget is not receiving the needed financing. As a result, we will have to cut back on our expenses during the EXPO-2017 and the Universiade," Nazarbayev said.

The President stressed that the success of the EXPO depended on the development and promotion of its theme, ensuring a greater number of participating countries, attracting visitors and proper cooperation with international partners and sponsors.

"Here we need to study the experience of countries that have had successful exhibitions such as Lisabon in Portugal in 1998 and Shanghai in China in 2010. The organizers in these countries worked out all the organizational issues including the use of exhibition venues after the EXPO and integration of those venues into the city system. In the meantime, we also need to understand why the exhibitions in Saragossa, Spain and Yeosu, South Korea were unsuccessful, so that we will not make similar mistakes here," the President added.

According to Nazarbayev, only 30 countries have confirmed their participation in the exhibition so far and only 5 of them have assigned exhibition commissioners. But no agreements on participation have been signed yet.  

"We all know who a state budget is formed. If the participating countries do not plan the required funds for their exhibition participation, then in 2017 they wont be able to do it. That is why, we need to get confirmations of participation from them to make sure that they include the required funding into their yearly plans," Nazarbayev explained. 

President Nazarbayev instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the Exhibition Commissioner to work harder on receiving official confirmations from the EXPO-2017 participants. Minister of Investments and Development Asset Isekeshev, Minister of Energy Vladimir Shkolnik and national company Astana EXPO-2017 were instructed to work out all the organizational issues with participating countries concerning their pavilions and themes, and to provide all the necessary conditions for promotion of the EXPO-2016 theme - Future Energy - so that participants also invest in attracting more visitors to Astana during the exhibition.

President of Kazakhstan noted the importance of working with key 20 countries that specialize in alternative energy and technologies. He also instructed the country's officials to cooperate with major international companies that have projects in Kazakhstan to jointly organise promotion campaigns for the exhibition and raise funds to provide adequate facilities and equipment for the EXPO-2017.

Writing by Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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