France and Kazakhstan

Political relations

At political level, relations between France and Kazakhstan were initiated following the country’s independence, with diplomatic relations established on 25 January 1992. President Mitterrand visited Kazakhstan in September 1993.

Our relations have been spurred on by the signing of a strategic partnership in June 2008, and the creation in 2010 of a Franco-Kazakh Presidential Commission, which essentially takes the form of an annual meeting between the two Heads of State since President Nazarbayev’s visit to Paris in 2008.

In 2008, France, like its European partners, transferred its Embassy from its previous location, Almaty, to the new capital, Astana. In 2010, our presence was strengthened with the transformation of our embassy office in Almaty into a Consulate-General.

Visits

  • The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, met his Kazakh counterpart on 21 November 2012 in Paris, then on 24 March 2014 in the side-lines of the Hague Nuclear Security Summit. He made an official visit to Astana and Almaty on 5 and 6 December 2014, and received Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev during the latter’s official visit to Paris on 4-6 November 2015.
  • The French Prime Minister received his counterpart in Paris on 11 June 2012, on 20 September 2013 and on 17 November 2014, while the French Minister of Defence visited Kazakhstan on 15 and 16 July 2012.
  • The French Minister of Foreign Affairs made a visit to Astana on 1 March 2013, when he had consultations with his counterpart, Mr Idrissov, as well as being received by President Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov.
  • For her part, the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Ms Nicole Bricq, visited Kazakhstan on 24 May 2013, followed by the Minister Delegate for Francophonie, Ms Yamina Benguigui on 17 and 18 September that year.
  • The Minister of State responsible for Foreign Trade, Development of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, Mr Matthias Fekl, also visited Kazakhstan on 16 and 17 October 2014.
  • Mr Idrissov, Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs, was received by his counterpart, Mr Fabius, on 10 June 2014 in Paris.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault met with Mr Idrissoc on 8 December 2016 in Hamburg during the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, and then with his successor, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, in Paris for the celebration on 29 March 2017 of the 25ᵗʰ anniversary of France’s diplomatic relations with Central Asian States.

Economic relations

The strategic partnership between France and Kazakhstan is essentially economic: Kazakhstan is France’s leading trading partner in Central Asia, with a volume of trade totalling €2.9 billion in 2016, €456 million accounted for by exports from France. France has a structural trade deficit with Kazakhstan which stood at €2 billion in 2016, down almost 60% compared to 2011-2013 because of lower oil prices. France’s market share was 2.6% in 2016, making it Kazakhstan’s sixth-largest supplier (ninth in 2015). Our companies have made us the third-largest foreign investor, with $12.8 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in February 2016. The Joint Economic Cooperation Commission on the one hand, and the Business Council on the other, contribute to the development of our economic relations.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our scientific, education and cultural cooperation is based on the Treaty of Friendship, Understanding and Cooperation of September 1992 and the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Culture and the Arts of September 1993.

Our diplomatic post works to strengthen the cultural network (Alliances Française branches) and promote the French language in order to identify new publics, including through the organization of events such as cultural days including the “Autumn Meetings” and the “Francophonie Week”. Cross-cultural seasons were held in 2013 and 2014.

The priority granted to training the elite draws on partnerships (Bolashak Presidential Scholarship Scheme, Soros Foundation, French businesses, Kazakh universities). A programme to train senior civil servants between the Kazakhstan Academy of Public Administration and the French National School of Public Administration (ENA) produced a joint master’s curriculum between the two establishments. The project for the “Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute”, enshrined by the signing of a memorandum in September 2013 between the COMUE Sorbonne Paris Cité (SPC) research and teaching unit and the Abai Kazakh National Pedagogical University in Almaty, led to the creation of the Institute, offering two master’s degrees in international relations and implementing change. Some 100 students study there, half of whom receive grants. During the President of the French Republic’s visit in December 2014, solemnly inaugurating the “Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute”, 21 agreements were also signed between French and Kazakh higher education establishments. On 4 November 2015, the sixth Franco-Kazakh academic forum was held in Paris, with the participation of 25 Kazakh and some 30 French establishments.

Other cooperation

Support for decentralized cooperation (renewal of twinning programmes, including that between Almaty and Rennes which was visited by the Mayor of Almaty in October 2016; forging of ties between Oksemen and Lyon and between Atyrau and Marseille; action by Nice in the area of training for the hospitality and tourism industry and by Cannes in the area of events) completes France’s support for cultural and technical cooperation.

Updated: 30 May 2017

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