Kazakhstani Ambassador to Mexico Andrian Yelemessov opened that north central Asian nation’s first embassy in Mexico on Monday, June 20, with a diplomatic reception attended by members of the international diplomatic community, as well as Mexican Foreign Relations Undersecretary Carlos Alberto de Icaza González.
During the ceremony at the elegant Lomas de Chapultepec chancellery, Yelemessov spoke about his government’s accomplishments and its desire to broaden cooperation with Mexico and other Latin American countries.
“This year, the people of Kazakhstan are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the proclamation our indepdence,” Yelemessov said, speaking in fluent Spanish, in his official welcome speech.
“In the last quarter century … the Kazakh people have worked together to create a strong, dynamic and modern state under the direction of the leader of our country, the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazerbayev.”
The iron-fisted and sometimes controversial Nazerbayev (who has been criticized by human rights groups for his crackdowns on the media and political opposition, but has achieved stability and relative prosperity in a nation straddling a turbulent region and bordering Afghanistan) has led Kazakhstan since 1989, when he was named first secretary of the Communist Party for the republic under the Soviets.
Following the oil- and mineral-rich country’s independence, he was elected as Kazakhstan’s first president, and in April 2015, he was reelected by a 98 percent majority.
“Thanks to our unity, solidarity and force of spirit, we have achieved both economic development and a high standard of living for our people,” Yelemessov said.
The envoy went on to say that Kazakhstan’s current path of growth will put it among the 30 most-developed countries on Earth by the year 2050.
“Today, the Republic of Kazakhstan is a country that has successfully integrated into the international system,” he said, adding that his nation has played an active role in numerous multinational forums and has attracted foreign investors from around the globe.
In the last decade, Kazakhstan has registered nearly $250 billion in foreign capital investment.
Most of that investment, however, has been in the energy sector, while the country’s infrastructure and agricultural sectors have suffered sorely from a lack of capital, despite the fact that Kazakhstan is the world’s seventh-largest grain exporter, producing about 16 million tons of wheat per year.
With the recent collapse of the global fossil energy market, which currently accounts for about a quarter of the national economy and 80 percent of the country’s total exports, the Kazakhstani government has been trying to diversify its economy by developing new industries in the pharmaceuticals, aerospace and technological sectors and encouraging private-sector entrepreneurship.
Turning to Astana’s relationship with Mexico, Yelemessov said that the opening of the new embassy constituted the start of new opportunities for bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which first established diplomatic links in 1992, one year after Kazakhstan’s December 1991 independence. (It was the last Soviet republic to declare sovereignty from Moscow.)
Yelemessov said that his country wants to work with Mexico to “deepen and develop relations in all fields.”
“At the moment, the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and Mexico is not very large. (Combined bilateral commercial exchange amounts to about $76 million a year, according Mexican government sources),” Yelemessov said.
“But the prospects for future two-way cooperation are enormous.”
Yelemessov noted that Mexico is currently Kazakhstan’s second-largest trade partner in Latin America, right behind Brazil. (Kazakhstan opened its first Latin American embassy in Brasilia in 2013.)
Yelemessov ended his speech by saying that his government appreciates its candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2017 through 2018, adding that he hoped Mexico would decide to open a resident embassy in Astana in the near future.
Later, guests were given a firsthand tour of the new embassy offices and were invited to a lavish buffet of traditional Kazakhstani cuisine as they were serenaded by the sounds of a live mariachi band, occasionally led by Yelemessov himself.