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Gulbanu Mukhamejanova. Official visit of King Abdullah II of Jordan to Kazakhstan: results and prospects

On November 1, 2017, the King of Jordan Abdullah II paid an official visit to Astana, where he was received by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.A.Nazarbayev. The heads of the two states discussed the priority areas of bilateral relations, current problems on the international and regional agenda, including recent developments in the Middle East. Following the meeting, a number of intergovernmental documents were signed, including an agreement on cooperation in the field of civil defense, combating international crime, disaster management and emergency response.

 

Common interests as a driver of close cooperation

A flexible and pragmatic foreign policy unites Kazakhstan and Jordan, despite the historical and ethno-cultural characteristics of the two states. Astana and Amman have similar views on a number of regional and global issues.

In particular, Kazakhstan and Jordan stand for peace and stability throughout the world and conduct peacekeeping operations in the regions. N.Nazarbayev highly appreciated the role of King Abdullah II in establishing peace and security in the Middle East, giving him a specialized award “For World without Nuclear Weapons and Global Security”. King Abdullah II is the first prize laureate, which was granted to him as a gratitude for the continued efforts in ensuring regional and international security and stability. In his turn, Abdullah II highly appreciated the role of Kazakhstan in international affairs in such areas as nuclear disarmament, interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution [1].

N.Nazarbayev underlined the special role of Jordan in assisting the “Astana Process” on the Syrian settlement, where it acts as an observer country. Certainly, Jordan, which shares borders with Syria and Iraq, is interested in the early resolution of the conflict and establishment of a lasting peace in Syria.

N.Nazarbayev emphasized the Jordan contribution in providing assistance to Syrian refugees. According to official data of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of November 5, 2017, there are over 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, which is about 12% of the total number of Syrian refugees [2]. 78% of refugees live in urban areas, over 130 thousand people are in the refugee camps Azraq and Zaatari [3].

Friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries are supported both on a bilateral and multilateral level, including in the framework of international organizations and forums. Jordan supports the initiatives of Kazakhstan at the international level and actively participates in their implementation. Thus, Jordan took part in the VI Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions and in the 1st OIC Summit on Science and Technology. In addition, parties support constructive cooperation within the framework of Kazakhstan’s membership in the UN Security Council in 2017-2018.

 

Prospects for trade and economic cooperation

At present, commodity turnover between Kazakhstan and Jordan is at a low level, which does not correspond to the dynamic pace and scope of bilateral relations. Within 8 months (January-August) in 2017, the volume of trade between the countries stood at $253.8 thousand. The value of imported goods from Jordan is $252.4 thousand [4]. The main imports from Kazakhstan to Jordan are vegetable products. In turn, the lion’s share of Jordanian imports to Kazakhstan is pharmaceutical production [5].

In the opinion of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the high cost of transporting goods hinders the increase in trade volume. The development of efficient transport and logistics routes, including the use of existing railways in the directions Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran and Georgia-Armenia-Turkey, was considered by the parties as an opportunity to supply Kazakhstani agricultural products to Jordan and import seasonal vegetable products. In the long term, Jordan can become a main port of entry for Kazakhstan in the markets of the Middle East.

Kazakhstan and Jordan have a great potential for investment cooperation. In particular, in addition to Hikma Pharmaceuticals, the largest and most successful Jordanian producer of pharmaceuticals, 82 representative offices with the participation of Jordanian capital registered in Kazakhstan [6]. The Kazakhstan-Jordan intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation is actively working to promote cooperation between the chambers of commerce and industry of the two countries.

It is noteworthy that Jordan took part in the international specialized exhibition “Expo-2017: Future Energy”. Jordan acquainted the visitors of the pavilion with investment opportunities in the economic sector, in particular, in the energy sector of the country. During the exhibition (June 10, 2017 – September 10, 2017), 580 thousand people visited the Jordan pavilion [7].

 

Military-technical cooperation

Great prospects are opening up in the sphere of military-technical cooperation between Kazakhstan and Jordan. Thus, Jordan became the first customer of Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE), which is a joint venture of the South African company Paramount Group and Kazakh Engineering. Jordan is interested in buying armored vehicles of KPE, namely armored personnel carriers “Arlan”, which have high mine protection. Jordan plans to purchase additional equipment, such as, large-caliber machine guns 12.7 mm by NATO standards and night vision sights [8].

 

* * *

Summing up the results of the negotiations with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Nursultan Nazarbayev highly appreciated the trusting and friendly relations between the two countries: “For a quarter of a century our countries dynamically developed cooperation in various spheres and established a close and at the same time confidential political dialogue with each other. I want to emphasize that all this was achieved due to the warm attitude of King Abdullah II to Kazakhstan” [9]. In turn, King Abdullah II said that the relationship is generational, referring to the special friendship between the President of Kazakhstan and the late King of Jordan Hussein.

In general, the high dynamics of the meetings of the heads of states at the highest political level attests to the gradual expansion and deepening of relations between our countries. The partnership with Jordan gives Kazakhstan the opportunity to establish closer relations with the Middle Eastern countries, which will promote the diversification of sales markets for Kazakhstani products. In the short term, relations between our countries can reach an even higher strategic level.

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[1] Jordan, Kazakhstan set to expand cooperation //http://jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-kazakhstan-set-expand-cooperation.

[2] Syria Regional Refugee Response//http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=107.

[3] Syria emergency //http://www.unhcr.org/syria-emergency.html.

[4] Бакытжан Сагинтаев провел встречу с Королем Иордании Абдаллой II бен Хусейном

//https://primeminister.kz/ru/news/all/bakitzhan-sagintaev-provel-vstrechu-s-korolem-iordanii-abdalloi-ii-ben-huseinom-15564.

[5] External Trade Statistics of Jordan by Commodity Groups //http://www.dos.gov.jo/dos_home_e/main/linked-html/ex_trad.htm.

[6] Бакытжан Сагинтаев провел встречу с Королем Иордании Абдаллой II бен Хусейном

//https://primeminister.kz/ru/news/all/bakitzhan-sagintaev-provel-vstrechu-s-korolem-iordanii-abdalloi-ii-ben-huseinom-15564.

[7] Jordan, Kazakhstan set to expand cooperation //http://jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-kazakhstan-set-expand-cooperation.

[8] Вооруженные силы РК проводят испытания новой военной техники //https://bnews.kz/ru/news/vooruzhennie_sili_rk_provodyat_ispitaniya_novoi_kazahstanskoi_voennoi_tehniki.

[9] Брифинг для представителей средств массовой информации по итогам официального визита Короля Иордании Абдаллы II //http://www.akorda.kz/ru/events/akorda_news/press_conferences/brifing-dlya-predstavitelei-sredstv-massovoi-informacii-po-itogam-oficialnogo-vizita-korolya-iordanii-abdally-ii#4.