Astana – the winning city!

The capital of Kazakhstan was chosen to host the international specialized exhibition EXPO-2017.

Astana was victorious. The result was proclaimed in Paris France, at the headquarters of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), on November 22, 2012, after 10 pm Astana time. At the 152nd session of the BIE General Assembly 148 member states out of a total of 161 were present and voted. There was a quorum even though some delegates could not attend. Astana beat Liege in a fair and hard-fought contest by an overwhelming 103 to 44 votes, with one abstention.

Prior to the voting ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the “EXPO 2017, Astana” Organizing Committee, Kayrat Kelimbetov, and the Mayor of Astana, Imangali Tasmagambetov, made a closing presentation of the bid by Kazakhstan. A videotaped statement by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, was also shown.

For Belgium, the Chairman of “EXPO 2017, Liege”, Robert Tollet, the Mayor of Liege, Willy Demeyer and the Director General of “EXPO 2017, Liege”, Jean-Christophe Peterkenne made the trip to Paris.

In their presentation the Belgians focused on the advantages of Liege. The Prime Minister of Belgium, Elio di Rupo, greeted the delegates of the BIE in a videotaped message. The Belgian Minister of Education, Marie-Dominique Simonet, also came to support the bid by Liege. They once again emphasized the economic stability of the country, its multi-ethnic character, the backing of other countries and international partners, and the enthusiasm of the Belgian people.

On behalf of the Government of Kazakhstan, Deputy Prime-Minister Kayrat Kelimbetov greeted the heads of delegations of the member states of the BIE.

- Organizing EXPO–2017 around the theme “Future Energy” follows logically from the global initiatives of our President to save the planet. While putting forward the theme “Future Energy” for EXPO-2017, we have taken all necessary steps to make sure that Kazakhstan moves forward towards the practical implementation of a green economy, - noted the Deputy Prime Minister.

- We will strive to make EXPO-2017 in Astana one of the most technologically advanced ever. Thus, Astana will resemble a kind of “City of the Future”. For us, EXPO-2017 will be a new phase in the economic life not only of Astana but of the country as a whole, and the theme “Future Energy” will mean a step towards preserving our planet for future generations.

K. Kelimbetov thanked all the heads of state, heads of diplomatic missions, the secretariat and the delegates of the BIE and all the participants who expressed their support for the bid by Astana. He also thanked the people and the government of Belgium for a fair and honest competition, which brought our two countries even closer together.

In his statement to the BIE delegates the Mayor of Astana, Imangali Tasmagambetov said: - We want to talk about what lies ahead. We want to say that the EXPO will expand its reach to cover a territory that is the 9th largest country in the world. The main mission of the EXPO after all, as is well known, is to be of planetary significance. Hence, the opportunity of holding the EXPO in our capital is a wonderful chance to develop and disseminate this global idea from the very heart of the Eurasian landmass. We aspire to, believe in and are capable of changing the world for the better! This is the real reason why Astana is taking part in this truly grandiose project.

The Mayor of Astana also highlighted the importance of the EXPO for our country: “Holding the EXPO will not only be a test of our abilities but an opportunity to prove to the international community that our city is a success, and is ready to tackle the most complex challenges. Time alone will tell whether today's decisions are the right ones. We in Kazakhstan are convinced that “Future Energy” is the right path forward.”

Then came the long awaited voting ceremony and everyone but the BIE delegates had to leave the room. Thirty agonizing minutes later the delegation of Kazakhstan walked back into the room and immediately saw the results displayed on the screen: 103 votes for Astana, 44 for Liege.

At that historic moment for all of Kazakhstan, people in Astana also awaited the results of the vote with bated breath. Young people from the capital gathered in front of the Media Center in Astana to show support for their country. As giant screens broadcast the ceremony live from Paris, the young let their joy show and chanted “EXPO Astana”.

Following the announcement of the results of the vote, an official reception was held in the ‘Gabriel’ pavilion in Paris, in honor of the country awarded the right to host EXPO-2017. At the start of the reception, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, spoke to those in attendance.

“I want to thank you once again for the decision to organize the EXPO-2017 exhibition in our young capital. I am grateful to all the heads of state and government for supporting our bid. I wish to in particular thank the people and the government of Belgium and of Liege for their fair play. We are fully cognizant of the historic responsibility that has been placed on our shoulders. For the first time ever the EXPO will be held in the very heart of the vast Eurasian landmass”, - said the Head of State.

He pledged that Kazakhstan would spare no effort to make sure that the exhibition meets the highest possible standards. “We will take in to account all of your suggestions, do our utmost to make sure the exhibition lives up to expectations”, - noted Nazarbaev and invited all those interested to visit Kazakhstan.

In concluding his speech the President switched to English. “Thank you for your support. It’s a great day for Kazakhstan”, - said Nursultan Nazarbaev.

November 22 became a decisive and historic day for independent Kazakhstan. From now one there will be a before and an after that day for all the people of Kazakhstan. 103 countries voted for the bid by Astana. This is a further endorsement of the policy conducted by the Government of Kazakhstan.

The “EXPO-2017” team now has a great deal of work ahead of it as it will now have to live up to the confidence expressed in its bid. The exhibition promises to be one of the most technologically advanced ever and by that time Astana will have rightly earned the nickname “City of the Future”.

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