On the right, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Egypt Arman Isagaliev in a meeting with the Chairman of the House of Representatives of Egypt Ali Abdel-Aal, February, 2018 – Courtesy of Kazakh Foreign Ministry
CAIRO – 11 April 2018: Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Egypt, Arman Isagaliev, said that Egypt is a main partner to Kazakhstan and is among one of the first to recognize the country.
Kazakhstan declared its independence after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. In an interview with Egypt Today, Isagaliev said that Kazakhstan aims to strengthen ties with Egypt in the fields of economy, science, technology, investment, and tourism.
"Egypt has experienced hard times," Isagaliev said. "Now we can see much safety and security achieved under the leadership of the 'wise' Abdel Fatah al-Sisi," he added, congratulating Egyptians for Sisi’s reelection in the 2018 presidential vote.
Isagaliev praised Egypt’s achievements in different fields, saying that huge projects have been carried out in the country.
Isagaliev lauded the country’s achievements in the field of gas, naming Zohr gas field that was discovered three years ago, about 190 kilometers north of Port Said. He said he hopes such achievements will make Egypt a gas exporter.
In 2015, Italian energy company Eni discovered Zohr gas field in the Shorouk concession, in an area of 100 square meters (39 square miles) and at a depth of 1,450 meters (4,760 feet).
In December, the company delivered the first gas production from Zohr field that is estimated at 30 trillion cubic feet (tfc), which makes it the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean.
Works on Zohr gas field on the Mediterranean- Photo courtesy of Eni website
Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla said in previous statements that Egypt increased its gas production by some 1.6 billion cubic feet a day in 2017 after starting production in four main fields, including West Delta’s Taurus, Libra fields, Atoll and Zohr gas fields.
Isagaliev said that Kazakhstan plans to invest in Egypt’s Red Sea port city of Safaga and Suez, located in north-eastern Egypt, adding that Kazakh investments in Egypt will include wheat exportation and oil.
During the fifth session of the Kazakh-Egyptian Ministerial Committee for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation held in Cairo in March 2017, the Kazakh side highly recommended that Safaga port be the biggest wheat storage facility in the MENA region due to its strategic geographic location and storage capacity, according to a press statement.
Concerning tourism, Isagaliev said during the interview that Kazakh tourists flew to Egypt in high numbers in 2017, especially to Sharm El-Sheikh, adding that the number of flights to Egypt increased from one weekly flight to 20 weekly flights in March.
Isagaliev affirmed earlier that Kazakhstan is the second country in terms of tourists visiting Sharm El Sheikh.
Isagaliev said he visited the Suez Canal, and was impressed by how the canal has been widened and has been made very appropriate for world transportation companies including Asian ones to use it.
A cargo ship is seen crossing through the New Suez Canal, Ismailia, Egypt, July 25, 2015. Reuters
In August 2014, President Sisi announced an $8.2-billion project to dig a new extension to the Suez Canal in order to expand its capacity to 97 ships per day.
Isagaliev also commented on Egypt’s strategy to fight terrorism by banning websites that encourage violence and extremism, saying that such step has good results. However, the internet remains uncontrollable.
In May 2017, Egyptian authorities decided to ban 21 news websites, including Masr Al-Arabiya and Qatari-based Al-Jazeera for “supporting terrorism and publishing fake news".
Concerning Syria peace talks in Astana, Isagaliev said during the interview that Kazakhstan calls for ceasefire in Syria, adding that the diplomatic solution is the only way to solve the Syrian conflict.
Turkey, Russia, and Iran have been working to find a political solution in Syria under the Astana process, which began in 2017, in competition with the US and UN-backed Geneva initiative.
FILE: Members of the delegations take part in the peace talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan December 22, 2017. Reuters
Isagaliev said Kazakhstan does not want to intervene in the affairs of Syria. He also refused to hold any of the Arab countries responsible for the continuity of the seven-year Syrian conflict.
The relationship between Kazakhstan and Egypt has been strengthened recently, especially after Egyptian President Sisi paid a two-day visit to Astana on February 26 and 27, 2016.
Delivering a speech in the ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence, attended by Egyptian officials in December 2017, Isagaliev said that the two countries have established political dialogue and developed trade and economic relations.
Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, signed in March 2017 a protocol that included Kazakhstan's support of Egypt in its negotiations to establish a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union.
This came along with promoting discussions on the possibility of establishing joint projects between the two countries in the fields of pharmaceutical industry, medical supplies and medical equipment.
The estimated size of Kazakh investments in Egypt reached $300,000 in late 2016, concentrated in industry, communications, tourism, constructions and service, according to a press statement by the ministry.