Over the past quarter of century, Kazakhstan “has matured and become a fully-fledged member of the international community” said Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov, toasting the progress of his country which will next year take up a seat on the UN Security Council and host Expo 2017. Oil and gas are not the only features of the economy – next year the new Astana International Financial Centre will be launched, a sign of Kazakhstan’s position at the heart of the modern Silk Road.
Guests, including ambassadors, parliamentarians and the business community, joined the Ambassador and as a parting gift were given a box of famous Kazakh apples. The former capital Almaty, means ‘fatherland of apples’ and it’s said the wild Kazakh apples thrive in huge variety – much like the 150 nationalities that call Kazakhstan home.
PHOTOS: PIERRE DE VILLIERS