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The reception – jointly organised by the UK Department for International Trade, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Kazakh Embassy in the UK – was attended by representatives from the UK government, MPs, as well as the business and academic sectors.
Ambassador Erlan Idrissov noted that during 25 years of successful relations, Kazakhstan and the UK have marked a number of impressive achievements across all areas of co-operation. Britain is one of Kazakhstan's largest trading and investment partners. The two countries are actively developing partnerships across a number of key sectors, including business, digitisation of the economy, and use of high technologies. The countries also boast successful co-operation in the areas of energy, finance, education, and culture. The UK played an instrumental role in creating and developing the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).
Ambassador Idrissov also stressed the key role of the British-Kazakh Society in developing relations between the two countries. He called on both sides to actively engage with the Society, thereby strengthening the development of this important institution.
Greg Hands, Minister for London and Minister of State for Trade Policy, delivered a welcome speech on behalf of the British government. He noted that Kazakhstan and Britain are embarking on a new chapter of bilateral relations. Trade and economic ties between the two countries are strengthening and Kazakhstan is becoming an increasingly attractive country for British business. According to Mr Hands, EXPO 2017 was a powerful catalyst in developing trade and business ties between the two countries. The event opened new opportunities for co-operating across areas of new technology and green energy. The UK intends to take an active part in the digitisation of Kazakhstan's economy. It is remarkable that two British companies are regarded as potential candidates for the Astana Smart City project.
Chairman of the British-Kazakh Society, Mr Rupert Goodman, and Britain's National Commissioner of EXPO 2017, Professor Charles Hendry, also delivered speeches. They noted the high level of Kazakh-British relations and stressed the significant potential for interaction across a number of important areas.
The reception ended with a concert by Yerlan Ryskali, a singer known for performing Kazakh traditional and folk music. He performed a kuy entitled “Konil tolkyny" and the famous Beatles song “Yesterday" using the dombra, a national instrument for Kazakhstan. The kuy was written by renowned Kazakh composer Saken Turysbek. As part of the programme, Kazakh-British pianist, Aizhan Nurkenova, performed a composition entitled “The Steppe" written by Kazakh composer Nagim Mendygaliyev, as well as “Tugan zher", written by herself.
It was for the first time when the Kazakh national music was played in the main reception hall of the UK Foreign Office, known as "Locarno Suite". The room was named in honour of the Locarno treaties of 1925 on the European borders, which were signed in this room.