The Astana International Forum (Aif), which has just ended in the capital of Kazakhstan, confirms the international positioning strategy that the Central Asian country is pursuing with a "clear desire for dialogue". Marco Alberti, the Italian ambassador to Kazakhstan, is convinced of this, commenting on the recently concluded event, underlining to "Agenzia Nova" that the AIF is not the first global initiative undertaken by Astana - a city in which last September Pope Francis was also visiting, on the occasion of the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions - but a further step in the international development strategy outlined by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a "multivector" sense. "The Forum was a further opportunity to position Kazakhstan as a geopolitical and geoeconomic epicenter in Central Asia, an increasingly strategic region", observes the ambassador, who judges the idea of the Forum as "very positive and useful". A desire for dialogue and cooperation clearly expressed by President Tokayev with "the strong emphasis placed on multilateralism in the opening speech, but also in the program of the event and in the participation of the guests", continues Alberti, underlining how the United Nations was " sole strategic partner”, and how the heads of important multilateral organizations were present in Astana: from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE), from Unesco to the World Bank, as well as a European commissioner. A choice that for Alberti confirms the president's foreign policy, included in the project to build a "new Kazakhstan".
For Alberti, in addition to multilateralism as an inescapable reference of contemporary international relations, the two-day event in Astana in particular will remain "the very strong emphasis on ecological transition, which has emerged as one of the most urgent, interconnected and crucial challenges for human development". Great interest in renewable energies. In this regard, among the numerous agreements signed on the sidelines of the Forum, the Total Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) stands out for the construction of a wind farm in Zhambyl, and the very innovative one between Eni and KazMunayGas for the construction of a gas-renewable hybrid plant in the Mangystau Region, the first of this type in the country. "Eni has been in Kazakhstan since the country's independence and, with this new agreement, confirms its desire to accompany the ecological transition outlined by the government, towards carbon neutrality by 2060", explains Alberti. Eni, through its subsidiary Arm Wind, already operates in the renewable energy sector in Kazakhstan with a wind farm in Aktobe, while another solar plant is under construction near Turkistan, in the south of the country.
The Astana International Forum is part of a complex process of internal reforms launched in 2022 by President Tokayev. “The reforms open a new chapter in the country's history, a long and difficult journey, and – as always happens in reform processes – with results that are not always obvious. But the route has been traced, and the international community, including Italy, is watching the ongoing process with interest and a desire for collaboration. The large participation in the Forum in recent days is an example of the willingness to dialogue with Astana”, explained the ambassador.
In this context, Italy "remains a very important country", one of the main investors in Kazakhstan and the first buyer of Kazakh goods, with trade growing by 55 per cent in 2022 alone. "Here we are, and I believe there are opportunities to increase our presence. Economically, but not only. Cultural relations, for example, constitute a further lever and, from this point of view, the new Institute of culture in Almaty will strengthen our positioning in the country and in the region". As for the Middle Corridor, the East-West connectivity diversification project, it is “a highly strategic project, especially in light of the current geopolitical circumstances. We are at an early stage, it will be necessary to monitor development times and methods, but there could also be interesting opportunities for our businesses. The embassy will help them monitor the insertion spaces”, concludes Alberti.