EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Viktor Temirbayev: ‘Kazakhstan and Lithuania Have Reasonable Opportunities to Become the Pillars of the Bridge between Two Major Continents of the Planet’



On 27 August 2018 Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, appointed Viktor Temirbayev as the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Lithuania, replacing Bauyrzhan Mukhamedzhanov, who completed his mandate in Lithuania.

On 24 October the new Ambassador of Kazakhstan presented his credentials to Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania.

  1. Temirbayev was born in 1967 in Pavlodar. He graduated from Moscow Institute of Electronic Engineering (Radio Engineering and Construction), as well as the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (International Relations). Mr Temirbayev has been working in the system of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1993, also embassies of Kazakhstan in Pakistan and Israel, as well as Kazyna Fund and the National Innovation Fund of Kazakhstan. He also worked as the Ambassador-Advisor at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Russia before appointment to Lithuania.

His Excellency Ambassador Viktor TEMIRBAYEV is a special guest of JŪRA MOPE SEA magazine and this is probably his first official interview as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Lithuania.

Your Excellency, this is your first appointment as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Does your future position in Lithuania meet your expectations?

First of all, I would like to note that I feel truly honoured that the President N. Nazarbayev appointed me to represent the interests of Kazakhstan in your country. To answer your question, I can say that the beginning of my work in Lithuania has exceeded all of my expectations and that is no exaggeration. The wonderful people, beautiful nature and architecture, as well as rich potential could do nothing but astonish me not only as a diplomat, but also as a simple person, who has visited your beautiful country for the first time.

What attitude did you bring to Lithuania and what goals have you set for yourself and the entire team, working at the embassy during your mandate?

Kazakhstan has been implementing huge economic and social reforms in full speed. Everyone’s working as a team to achieve the ambitious goal to push our country among the Top 30 of most developed countries. Not so long ago in his speech on the ‘Growth welfare of Kazakhstan people: improving income and quality of life’ President N. Nazarbayev particularly emphasized the fact that successful modernisation of Kazakhstan strongly depends on active foreign policies. Accordingly, all diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan receive a full set of tasks and assignments, leaving the only attitude possible – to keep working.

Talking of the goals for the mandate, they could be generalised as follows: further full cooperation between Kazakhstan and Lithuania, as well as interaction not only on mutual, but also multiple levels.

Lithuanian political and business representatives focus a lot of attention on cooperation with Kazakstan, thus, of course, they put great importance on cooperation with the Embassy of Kazakhstan, where the cooperation atmosphere is mainly created by the personality of the Ambassador. There are numerous excellent examples of meaningful economic and cultural activities, when the Embassy was led by Mr Galymzhan Koishybayev, as well as Mrs Aigul Kuspan, currently working as an Ambassador in Belgium. Therefore, it would be interesting to know, what cooperation tendencies are you planning to focus on? What dialogue do you hope for with the representatives of Lithuanian politics, business, art and culture?

I completely agree. The term of the so-called ‘institutional memory’ is truly applicable at the embassy. Getting to know the work of my predecessors at the monumental building on Birutės Street 20A, I truly admire their ingenuity, dynamics and dedication for the idea of bringing the two nations together.

As I’ve already mentioned, currently we focus on ‘economic diplomacy’ – attracting investments, exchanging useful technology and creating conditions for trade. Of course, we will surely give our attention to other fields of cooperation as well. During the years of independence we’ve built a strong foundation for true political friendship and will do all we can to maintain and strengthen that asset.

There’s a lot of work ahead of us in the field of cultural cooperation too. Our goal is to engage in long-term cultural, musical and tourism exchange, promoting travel among our citizens. Namely that kind of exchange develops into daily relations, allowing countries to get to know each other better and bringing them closer. I am convinced that the direct flights, launched by Kazakhstan’s SCAT airlines between Astana and Vilnius in spring 2018, will improve that process.

Nazarbayev University, opened in 2010 is a modern and fast-growing university, aiming to gain international recognition as a research university, focusing on the integration of education, science and innovations. We would like to engage in constructive cooperation between Nazarbayev University and Lithuania’s major universities, such as Vytautas Magnus University, Vilnius University, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Kaunas University of Technology.

In 2013 Kazakhstan’s capital Astana opened Astana Opera – an excellent opera and ballet theatre. Despite the fact that the theatre is very young, it has already established itself as a global-level arena. Aside from mutually-beneficial cooperation with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (exchanging experts, artists and troupes), we could organise tours, joint performances, trainings of our countries’ best experts, as well as participate at musical competitions and festivals.

I think that nobody doubts that namely the spiritual connection, born in the times that were difficult for both nations, is the most valuable aspect. Lots of Lithuanians are related to Kazakhstan in one way or another. Yet that connection is alive mostly among the older generation, giving us the task of transferring the unique code of friendship and mutual understanding to the youth.

Kazakhstan is on the midway of the Silk Road between China and Europe. Kazakhstan’s solutions also have a substantial influence on China’s choice of partners. What cooperation solutions or joint projects of Kazakhstan and Lithuania could be mutually beneficial for both countries establishing their positions in the One Belt, One Road project of the century?

Cooperation in the field of transport and logistics is, as usual, the core of our business partnership. At the same time current situation requires qualitatively new solutions to maintain the level of our current cooperation.

One of our suggestions is to strengthen the positions of Lithuania’s major transit participants, such as the Lithuanian Railways or Klaipėda seaport in Kazakhstan – the other end of the route. We’ve used this strategy in China, Iran and India with great success. To give an example, I would like to mention Kazakhstan’s logistics terminal in the Chinese port of Lianyungang, where we collect cargo from south-east Asia, which then continues onwards towards Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia and European Union.

We would also like to invite you to check out our modern dry port of Chorga, where Lithuanian carriers could collect their cargo from Asia and take it to the logistics centres in Lithuania. That is an excellent opportunity to join the cargo flow in the rapidly-growing New Silk Road.

JŪRA MOPE SEA magazine has been striving towards the synergy of business, science and art, thus let’s talk about another component of that synergy – science. By the initiative of the President N. Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan focuses quite a lot of attention on that.

Innovation and technology is the field, where we hope for joint breakthrough projects. We truly have high hopes there. In his address to the nation, the President N. Nazarbayev emphasized the necessity to develop such fields of the future economics as alternative energy, new materials, biomedicine, the big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, blockchain and others.

We are making the first steps in cooperation. As we already know, Lithuania is becoming a new EU centre for FinTech startups and it’s safe to say that Kazakahstan is quickly becoming a financial hub not only in Central Asia, but also a huge space, which includes the CIS countries, Mongolia, West China and individual Eastern European countries.

That became possible with the opening of Astana international financial centre, where we’ve established a different jurisdiction, based on the principles of the English law. You could say that it’s a state within a state.

We’re also actively engaged in medical cooperation. The majority of Kazakhstani students, doing their internships in Lithuania, are medics. Many Lithuanian experts come to work in Kazakstan as well, including Mr D. Pavalkis, former Lithuanian Minister of Education. Kazakhstani and Lithuanian medics implement joint projects in medical science.

Currently Kazakhstan and Lithuania analyses the possibility of close cooperation by developing joint agrarian labs.

Lithuania gave 200 grants for Kazakhstani school graduates for their studies at local universities. What is the attitude towards a Lithuanian university degree in Kazakhstan? Would Kazakhstani school graduates choose to study in Lithuania if it wasn’t for the grants, or would they pick other countries instead?

Lithuania was quite popular among our school graduates even before the grants. This dialogue involves all large Lithuanian and Kazakhstani universities. About six thousand young Kazakhstanians graduated from your universities in recent six years and also during the our President’s Bolashak Programme. I believe that these numbers are self-explanatory.

To conclude, I’d like to emphasize that Kazakhstan and Lithuania have reasonable opportunities to become the pillars of the bridge between two major continents of the planet.

Our countries have the necessary potential to build the Eastern European-Central Asian corridor that will allow us to exchange not only goods and services, but also thoughts on science and cultural values.

We have everything that we need – a solid legal framework, mutual support, joint priorities, resources and the determination to make certain steps.

Thank you for the conversation.

Interviewed by Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė


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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

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