Kazakhstan's new Ambassador to India, Bulat Sarsenbayev, who will be formally presenting his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee around noon on Tuesday, believes that his country and India share a similar vision and approach to bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual importance to the two countries, but nevertheless, would like to see enhanced economic and commercial ties between the two.
In an exclusive interview with ANI on the sidelines of a recent reception to celebrate Kazakhstan's Independence Day (which is observed on December 16), Ambassador Sarsenbayev spoke about how there was a possibility for India to take advantage and benefit of Kazakhstan's new economic policy called "Nurzhol", which he said has a counter-cyclical character aimed at ushering structural reforms in his country.
"Our (Kazakhstan-India) trade is a little bit more than 800 million dollars, which is small for our country. We should make more. As I said, it was a problem with our logistics, but now with this (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan and Iran) railway project, which was inaugurated recently, I hope that our trade will increase. When we made the link with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, last year our trade increased by 40 percent. This is logistics. So, it could become like that with India also," the new envoy said.
"We want Indian companies to invest in Kazakhstan. And, not only Indian, but also Kazakh companies to do business in India. This is what I am talking about. India is a big market for Eurasia, not only for Kazakhstan, but Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan. For us, India is a big market, but for India also, those markets are known from the Soviet times," he added.
He cited the popularity of Indian-manufactured and exported tea in Kazakhstan, and suggested that another area of great bilateral economic potential was tourism.
"Tourism could be one of the opportunities for us to increase relations. Today, we have five flights a week, everyday flights. So, it means people are coming to visit Kazakhstan. These (flights) are always full, Ambassador Sarsenbayev said.
"Politically, we (Kazakhstan and India) don't have any problems, because we share the similar vision and approaches to international issues, and we support each other. Recently, India expressed support to Kazakhstan to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council of United Nations. It is a great support for us," he added.
Dwelling on the subject of "Nurzhol", the envoy said it was a rare occurrence that President Nursultan Nazarbayev had addressed the citizens of his country twice in a given year, and his focus was solely on the need for regional and global development, and the attending economic challenges. His particular emphasis was on economic stabilization, and in this regard, Kazakhstan has seen India as a very important nation to do business with.
"It (India) is a big market, big country. We pay a lot of attention to our relations with India. Next year, we are going to organise a visit of His Excellency Prime Minister Modi to Kazakhstan. If he will agree to discuss with us, how we could develop our relations," Ambassador Sarsenbayev told ANI.
The reception, which was held at the Taj Palace Hotel on December 4, saw close to 400 people, including diplomats of key nations, businessmen and people from other walks of life in attendance. The invitees were left enthralled by a specially arranged performance of Kazakh instrumental and vocal folk music and dance by the Atyrau Philharmonic Group named "Muragar.