Welcoming speech by Altay Kulginov, Mayor of Nur-Sultan.
Dear conference participants, Harvard University representatives and Nazarbayev University leadership, a warm welcome to the heart of our country – Nur-Sultan city!
I’m privileged to give a welcoming speech to such a prestigious students and young professionals conference – Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations.
Let me congratulate Nazarbayev University students and the organizing committee who won the right to host this conference for the first time for Kazakhstan. You’ve done well!
As I know, HPAIR conference is a unique summit of the next generation leaders, where students and young professionals exchange their knowledge and experiences along with summit speakers who’ve succeeded in their niche areas. I wish you all a fruitful collaboration and most importantly – inspiration! This is the driving force of change!
“Passion for change” – what a great theme for a conference! I can’t emphasize enough how applicable it is to our country and a young capital in particular!
Nur-Sultan city (formerly known as Astana) has practically been built from scratch. Thanks to the courage of the First President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nazarbayev, during the deepest economic crisis of the 90’s he was able to demonstrate his visionary personality and convince the country’s establishment to move the capital from Almaty. It was a change, a tough change!
Now, over 20 years later, this beautiful city looks like it grew effortlessly. But it was not the case – endless skepticism, billions of dollars of foreign investment and government funds, hundreds of thousands of people relocating from around the country, millions of square meters of housing, social buildings, hospitals, and schools were built in record-setting time. How’s that for a change?
Nur-Sultan city is the heart of Kazakhstan, where the most important decisions are made that transform the country every day, month and year. Many countries compare Nur-Sultan to other cities, and such comparisons often don’t do justice to the specifics of how it evolved over time, its prehistory. We have our own story to tell and path, and it’s unique. With more than 10,000 years of ancient history, this nomadic nation has seen numerous civilizations’ rises and falls. Nur-Sultan is uniquely placed near such historical places and great natural spots! I invite you all to explore Nur-Sultan! Be our gests!
Kazakhstan has demonstrated in its history a passion for change. The country’s leadership has shaped the economy such way that it created unprecedented opportunities for the “social lift” and a true testament of meritocracy. Great examples are:
- The educational scholarship of the President of Kazakhstan “Bolashak” which allows any hard-working student from any part of Kazakhstan to study in any university in the world! How’s that for a change? (PAUSE). This scholarship has been especially transformational for students from rural areas and low-income families.
- Promoting and supporting entrepreneurship – there are numerous free courses provided by the government and NGOs that educate youth on how to start and run a business, there are many business incubators, etc. The government provides funding for most promising start-ups to de-risk young people’s business plans. Thus, any hard-working, I emphasize, the “hard-working” young people can be self-employed and earn a very good money. How’s that for a change?
- Founding the Nazarbayev University – a world-class university with substantial assets that provides essential basis for its unprecedented takeoff and worldwide recognition. Now any talented student in Kazakhstan can study in such high-profile school in-country. How’s that for a change?
- Numerous world-class international events such as EXPO 2017, Astana Economic Forum, chairing OSCE and hosting its events, and many more events that provide opportunities for young people to deepen their knowledge and experiences, or even get employed at high-pay jobs. How’s that for a change?
- The President of Kazakhstan Mr. Tokayev has announced about the “Special Presidential Pool of 300 young people” – to gather the most talented young people and appoint them to high political positions to help run our country. How’s that for a change?
This year of 2019 has been announced the “Year of Youth” by the country’s leadership, demonstrating the ever-increasing support for our future leaders of the country. The youth – is the driving force of the economy of any country. The First president of Kazakhstan once mentioned in one of his addresses to the nation the concept of “the society of hard-working culture”. This became a quintessential model of how young people should shape their personalities.
I also like the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. Guess what, the government has created the meritocratic system that “teaches how to fish”.
I urge all young people to keep your eyes wide open, look around, be open to ideas, be positive, and grab the opportunities out there! No one will do the work for you, no such thing as free money. If you work hard – you will be well off in this country. The President Tokayev is pushing towards making Kazakhstan’s government “a leadership that listens, a leadership that hears”, we are ever more interested in how we can help our youth.
I, as the Mayor of Nur-Sultan, am committed to support our young people, the future of this country.
What’s next? Kazakhs have an old saying “Aqyl jastan, asyl tastan”, which means “the wisdom comes from the youth, and the gems come from stones”. The country counts on us, the young people, to come up with breakthrough ideas, work tirelessly change things for better, instead of complaining.
Is there a room for improvement in our country? You bet! The sky is the limit, we are an open society, we have a passion for change!
In closing, I want to invite all participants of the conference to:
- Explore Nur-Sultan, we have a lot to offer, stay extra few days
- Come to study in our universities, at NU especially
- Relocate to Nur-Sultan permanently. If you want to get rich – this is your chance! Things have changed for better, we are considered a “low-risk high-return” place these days, most of the risks are gone, we created investment climate that treats investors as the most honorable guests, and we have vested interest in you being successful. We are on the same boat with you! Reach out to me personally with your business ideas, I will provide the full support from my office.
- Come back soon, bring your family and friends. We are boosting our tourism facilities!
Once again, I wish you all fruitful collaboration during this prestigious conference! Welcome to Nur-Sultan.