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Opened embassy in Kazakhstan

On Friday His Royal Highness The Crown Prince opened the Norwegian embassy in Kazakhstan. This is Norway’s first embassy in Central Asia, signalling that this area is becoming increasingly important both bilaterally and internationally.
12.02.2010

The embassy is located in the capital city of Astana and will encompass three countries in addition to Kazakhstan: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Dag Malmer Halvorsen has been appointed Norway’s first ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Crown Prince Haakon had a busy schedule prior to the opening:

Opened a seminar on energy and the environment

Also on Friday, Crown Prince Haakon opened a business seminar entitled “Energy, Climate and the Environment”. In his opening remarks the Crown Prince stressed the need for clean and renewable energy and emphasised the potential for cooperation between Norway and Kazakhstan in this area:

“We need to use energy more efficiently, we need more renewable energy, and we need cleaner energy. These are areas that both our countries are giving priority to, and where there may be opportunities for cooperation.”

Following the seminar, the Crown Prince visited the Ak Orda Presidential Palace, where he held talks with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre also participated in the meeting with the president.

Lecture on the UN Millennium Development Goals

From the Presidential Palace Crown Prince Haakon continued on to Eurasia University, where he held a lecture on the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Following the lecture, the Crown Prince met with Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Massimov, who also hosted the official luncheon held afterwards.

Official opening of the embassy

The Crown Prince and his entourage arrived at the new embassy a few minutes past three o’clock p.m. local time. In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Crown Prince Haakon emphasised the crucial role that the new embassy will play in the further development of relations between Norway and Kazakhstan:

“Norway’s embassy in Kazakhstan is established at an important juncture in the development of the relations between our countries. Kazakhstan is a valuable partner for Norway both politically and economically and I believe our new embassy in Astana will be crucial for strengthening the ties between our two countries.”

After the conclusion of the opening ceremony, the Crown Prince and Foreign Minister Gahr Støre were given a guided tour of the embassy.

SYSLAB labour market centre

SYSLAB is a system developed in Norway to assist highly qualified people who are unemployed to find new positions or start new companies. Although the SYSLAB centre in Astana has been in operation for one year, it was officially opened when the Crown Prince visited the centre in the afternoon. The aim is to incorporate the methods used at the centre into Kazakhstani policy for combating unemployment.

Bayterek – Kazakhstan’s national monument

Crown Prince Haakon also visited the Bayterek Observation Tower, which is Kazakhstan’s national monument and a popular tourist attraction. The 97-metre high tower symbolises the legend of the magical bird Samruk which laid its eggs in the crevice between two branches of a poplar tree. The word “Bayterek” means “large poplar”, and the dome of the tower is shaped like a golden sphere (representing an egg) that rests atop a narrow cylindrical shaft with flaring, branch-like girders (representing the tree). The monument also has a gilded imprint of the president’s hand with a plaque inviting guests to put their hand in the imprint and make a wish.

In the evening the embassy held a reception at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The Mathias Eick Quartet, a Norwegian jazz ensemble, performed at the event.

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