As 2010 draws to a close and Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) winds down, the country is shifting the focus of its image-shaping efforts from politics to sports. The country’s next big project – hosting the seventh Asian Winter Games -- will run from January 30 to February 6.
Kazakhstan has in recent years worked hard to project a global image of an up-and-coming nation. Hosting high-profile international events gives it the platform to sell itself to the world. “The formation of a national brand for Kazakhstan as a country aspiring to be among the leading countries is a key task,” Zhanat Zakiyeva, an official from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, told a roundtable at the Institute of Political Solutions (IPS) in Almaty in October.
In addition to chairing the OSCE and hosting the Asian Winter Games, the country seeks recognition through other projects. It is the home to the Congress of World and Traditional Religions and will chair the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 2011.
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Paul Bartlett is an Almaty-based freelance writer specializing in education issues.