NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan, April 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Kazakhstan's new president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has begun a tour of the country's provinces to meet with local communities and workers. This is part of his efforts to connect with people across this Central Asian country, the ninth largest in the world, and to hear first-hand the issues that they face.
The president began his tour in East Kazakhstan, the leading industrial-agrarian region of the country. Last year industrial output grew by 9.3% here, boosting Kazakhstan's economy despite an uncertain global outlook.
On Saturday, after visiting a hospital and a local university, Tokayev visited the Abay Museum in Semey, dedicated to the 19th-century humanist poet Abay Kunanbaev, whose forward-looking vision of Kazakhstan is widely acknowledged.
"President Tokayev is keen on protecting our heritage," said Abay Museum Director Bolat Zhunisbelov. "He said Kazakhs must recognise that our past fits with our future as a modern nation."
The nearby infamous Soviet-era nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk was closed in 1991 by the country's first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. President Tokayev called on Semey authorities to step up assistance to victims of the Soviet nuclear tests, speed up the construction of a nuclear medical centre, and to build a new centre for children's rehabilitation.
At a meeting with the public in the regional capital Ust-Kamenogorsk, the president also pointed out the need to develop small and medium-sized businesses. "At present, the share of local businesses in the regional economy is only 16 percent," he said. "The creation of new enterprises and jobs will be our priority."
On Sunday, Tokayev toured the Pavlodar region in northeastern Kazakhstan. After meeting residents in the regional capital, he visited the Pavlodar Oil Chemistry Refinery, one of the country's three refineries.
"The president met with our workers and congratulated them on their continuing efforts to keep this refinery at the forefront of our world-class oil and gas industry," General Director Ospanbek Alseitov said.
Kazakhstan has the largest proven reserves of crude oil in the Caspian region, and production is expected to double over the next decade to over 3 million barrels per day.
President Tokayev also visited a youth development centre in Pavlodar. "Kazakhstan has embarked on a new stage of its movement towards progress and prosperity," he said. "Our youth are at the forefront of this progress and we will continue putting into place policies to promote them."
In March, as then Speaker of the Senate, Tokayev became president when former president Nazarbayev resigned after nearly 30 years in charge. Tokayev then called a snap presidential election for June 9th to ensure continuity and stability. Last week the ruling Nur Otan party's congress unanimously chose Tokayev as its candidate. Nine candidates are standing so far in the upcoming election.
SOURCE The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kazakhstan