EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Vytautas Naudužas: The Future Is the Present Implemented on Time


Astana’s sweltering summer is now only a memory. But it was a ‘hot’ summer not only in terms of temperature (although it was very high). From June to September, Kazakhstan’s capital city was lit up by the ‘Rays of Future Energy’ of the EXPO 2017, radiating from Nur Alem, Kazakhstan’s pavilion, and 115 other pavilions, representing various world countries, as well as the hearts of the more than four million people visiting the event. Vytautas NAUDUŽAS, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Kazakhstan, had to survive this all-encompassing heat as well.

Your Excellency, what events from these 93 days were the hottest, the most significant, and the most impressive.

Summer in Astana ‘heated up’ both the local citizens and guests of the capital. Yet winters in Astana are the complete opposite, with freezing temperatures of minus 40 degrees reinforced by strong winds, referred to as buran. Such seasonal natural contrasts in Kazakhstan are quite favourable for future energy, including green energy, offering not only win-win, but also wind-wind scenarios. 

Of course, semantics, just like romanticism, can’t be utilised in energy, but the four million visitors of EXPO (from more than 115 countries) were drawn to the several thousand events on the future’s ‘engine’. All of the days of the exhibition were impressive, as guests could see with their own eyes the threshold of the energy revolution that mankind is standing on. This includes renewable energy and efficient energy, as well as the endless resources of 270 trillion cubic metres of methane hydrate (by the way, 1 m3 of methane hydrate produces energy equal to that, which is produced using 163 cubic metres of gas!!!). Global efforts to make use of nuclear fusion should be noted as well. Even now, Toshiba’s experimental nuclear fusion reactor in Japan is already running. Germany, Russia (in Novosibirsk) and South Korea are also engaged in intensive work. In the south of France, a 1,100 MW thermonuclear experimental reactor ITER, valued at 11 billion US dollars, is being built. In the future, having successfully overcome various technical difficulties related to thermonuclear reactors, modern nuclear power plants, including the one built in Astravets (Belarus), could finally become antiquated. Science, innovations, engineering solutions and new technologies are focused on other alternative energy resources, e.g. shale gas and oil, as well as on our collective effort to achieve harmonious development without harming nature. Humanity has a firm stand for a future of green energy without any dirty secrets.

The future is nothing more than the present, implemented on time. This is why our generation’s choice – to make the future, rather than to fake the future – will determine the energy future of mankind.

The opening of the EXPO 2017 was greatly anticipated in Kazakhstan. The event in Astana was attended by leaders of 17 countries: China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, the Czech Republic and others. Also present was the King of Spain and other distinguished guests. In total, EXPO 2017 was visited by the heads of over 80 states. Nearly every tenth visitor of the four million that came to EXPO admired the design and lighting of our pavilion, the information on our country’s energy, and the excellent café, featuring not only exclusive espresso, but also ‘herring ice-cream’ and various other unusual dishes. Many visitors took photographs of the unique menu. The guests of the Lithuanian pavilion could enjoy various art groups, coming from all over our country, as well as art and photo exhibitions. Every Tuesday, Romas Jankauskas, the ‘Commissioner of Commissioners’ at EXPO 2017, organised various interesting events at the Lithuanian pavilion, which quickly became the centre of attention for the entire EXPO village. Our pavilion and the events presented here were visited by the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Japan’s Minister of the Economy, the Mayors of Osaka and Lodz, the delegation of the EU Department of Energy and many other important guests.

The guests of Astana were particularly drawn by the EXPO exhibition’s lighting, showcasing achievements in contemporary energy.  

It is probably an interesting experience to reside in a country where such a world-class event takes place – in a country where events like this aren’t commonplace. According to Immanuel Kant, you don’t have to go anywhere, as the whole world can come to you. How did Kazakhstan’s people, its intelligentsia, representatives of science and art, government officials and everyone else react to this influx of the world? What did the world bring to Kazakhstan and what was Kazakhstan able (have time) to take in, take note of, remember, apply?

The world brought in and took out new ideas from Kazakhstan. It brought news on achievements in energy, trends. It brought several 5-star hotels (Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, Hilton, Sheraton, and others), a new village that temporarily housed those who were working in the EXPO pavilions, dozens of catering companies, cafes, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.

Several million tourists ‘took away’ from Kazakhstan information on the country, the new capital city (which as of last year had a million residents, with the millionth baby being born), tourism, recreation, business opportunities. 

You participated in many events and interviews. What impression did the exhibition leave for its guests?

‘Tired of the sun’? Yes, that about sums it up. That summer was particularly hot. But at least people weren’t tired out by all the ideas on energy.

Visitors were undoubtedly amazed by the impressive investment in the EXPO and the capital city’s infrastructure. It seems like EXPO 2017 didn’t hold to the principle that economy is the art of spending money without deriving any pleasure from doing so.

On the other hand, it was great to see energy in business and business in energy. For the visitors it was clear that energy is a science, a business, and a part of our daily life.

How would you assess Lithuania’s presentation at the exhibition and the work of its pavilion ‘Rays of Future Energy’?

Lithuania was presented as an advanced, attractive, and modern state. Lithuania’s pavilion, our achievements in energy, images of our country, were fascinating not only for Kazakhs, but foreign visitors as well. We also had regular customers who would come to our café for their morning coffee or come for refreshment from the hot weather with some Švyturys beer and fried bread with garlic. Hamlet’s dilemma, ‘to be or not be beer’ was often pondered under the influence of beer aromas.

In any case, Lithuania’s gastronomic class was ‘love at first taste’ for visitors.

We barely had time to close the gates of one exhibition, and the world is already preparing for 2020, when the half-year-long EXPO, on the topic ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, will take place in Dubai. 150 countries have already announced their intention to participate, they have signed contracts with the International Exhibition Bureau. Since 1992, Lithuania hasn’t missed a single EXPO exhibition and has received many awards for its participation. Lithuania has made the decision to participate in the exhibition in Dubai. Do you think that Lithuania’s investments in world exhibitions pay off? What dividends could they bring to Lithuania?

World exhibitions are perfect opportunities to gain more visibility worldwide. This could be considered more like an investment in the country’s future, rather than an expense. Dividends are not necessarily in the mercantilist category, although even here Lithuania’s companies gain a perfect opportunity for advertisement, meetings with potential customers. Lithuania’s visibility, notoriety encourages cooperation with other countries, increases the number of people who sympathise with us, the flow of foreign tourists.

Participation in Dubai is unavoidable. This is also indicated by Dubai’s semantic structure: ‘do buy’... This will ease our export’s entrance into global markets.

Thank you very much for such an enlightening conversation. 

Interviewed by Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė


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