Bу his decree "On the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan" from 15 September 1995 the
head of state resolved a legal collision that began in March 1995, when the
Constitutional Court of the Republic of the Kazakhstan issued a judgment
stating the illegitimacy of the authority of the Deputies of the Supreme Soviet
of the Republic of Kazakhstan elected in March 1995. This judgment also
affected the Supreme Soviet resolution regarding new capital — Akhmola, as the
resolution became invalid. In this situation on 20 October 1997, the President
performing his legal duties issued Decree "On Proclaiming Akhmola the
Capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan." This was a turning point in the
history of this city. After it Akhmola received the status of a capital. Before
that, no one could imagine significant changes that were about to happen in
this remote regional center and what perspectives of development Akhmola
(presently Astana) was about to gain. Due to the swift presidential action,
the development of the new capital started promptly.
The painstaking process of all the supreme governmental authorities of Kazakhstan to the new capital followed.
The official ceremony of handing over the State symbols and the Standard of the President of the republic from Almaty to Akhmola took place on 8 November 1997.
Akhmola compared to other cities of Kazakhstan had better perspectives of development for its geographical position, central location in the country, access to rivers and other sources of water supply, presence of developed transportation infrastructure and economical perspectives.
The process of transferring the capital was mostly completed by the year 2000. Japanese architect Kise Kurokava preferred the underdeveloped left bank of the river Yessil for the new capital. "The best hieroglyph will come out if you draw it on the blank list of paper", he said.
Officially Akhmola became the capital on 10 December 1997, by presidential decree no. 3700 of 20 October 1997 "On Proclaiming the City of Akhmola the Capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan". The relocation of the supreme and central governmental agencies took place on the same date; and the international presentation of the capital was held on 10 June 1998.
On 6 May 1998, taking into consideration petitions of local executive and representative authorities, the public opinion of Akhmola City residents and the conclusions of the State Onomastic Committee a presidential decree was issued about renaming Akhmola into Astana.
On 20 May 1998, law no. 230-1 "On the Status of the Capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan" was adopted, which was superseded by another law was adopted on 21 June 2007.
According to Clause 4 of Article 1, "master copies of the state flag and national coat of arms are kept at the residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the capital of the state."
By presidential decree no. 3942 of 6 May 1998 two city districts "Sary Arkha" and "Almaty" were created in Astana.
The program documents of the government are the official Messages of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the People of Kazakhstan, the Strategic Plan of the Sustainable Development of the City of Astana until 2030, the Government Program of the Social and Economic development for 2006—2010 and the Program of the "Electronic city Astana" for 2006—2008.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev stressed the importance of actively protecting environment in Astana and its surrounding areas enforcing the policy of environmental enrichment and development.
Presidential decree no. 645 of 29 June 2001 "Astana as New City" stated the following:
1. “To create a special economic zone "Astana as New City" until 2010.
2. To endorse the enclosed Provision about the special economic zone "Astana as New City".
3. The present decree comes into force on 1 January 2002."
The logic behind establishment of the new capital can be easily explained by global experience of transferring the capital cities. The capitals of large countries could be located far from the geographical center of their respective countries, for example, Rio-de-Janeiro as the capital of Brazil, Istanbul as the center of the Ottoman Empire. With time, the administrative capitals of some countries move to the geographical center, for example, new city Brasilia in Brazil and Ankara in the Turkish Republic. Meanwhile, the former capitals continue developing as economical, financial, cultural and academic centers.
The city of Almaty saw new perspectives in maintaining its status as a cultural and academic capital of Kazakhstan and its development as financial center of Central Asia.
An initiative of President Nazarbayev announced at the second congress of the financiers of Kazakhstan entrusted the administration of the National Bank with creation of a concept of turning Almaty into a financial center of Central Asian region.
First stage — 1997—1999
The dual objective of the first stage: (a) to establish conditions for normal functioning of the state agencies transferred from Almaty to Astana and (b) to lay a foundation for transforming former Akhmola into a city of international standards.
Modern, built in a high-tech style, cinema-center "Samruk" was erected in six months by mid-December 1999 just in time for the coming new millennium. In the same year, new shopping gallery "Milennium" was opened.
New residential district for the families of the state employees was built in the south-eastern part of the city.
Second stage - 2000-2001
The new face of Astana was created by construction companies from Turkey, Switzerland, Great Britain, Czech Republic and other countries.
The building of the Ministry of the Finance completed in 2000 is the focal point of the city for its expressive and dynamic shape, which is associated with the flowing flag of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
During the second stage, city district "Samal" and high-rise (21-story) shopping complex "Astana Tower" were completed. A diplomatic compound with fifteen residencies was built on the left bank of the river Yessil.
Third stage - 2002-2005
Presidential decree "On Implementing the Decree on Special Economic Zone "Astana as New City" issued in January 2002 created favorable conditions for investments and attraction of Kazakh and foreign capital. There was a need to establish Astana as a city of the 21st century.
The most known projects completed during the third stage are "Baiterek" Monument and Vodno-Zelenyi (Green-Watery) Boulevard.
The left bank of the Yessil River became the main construction site. Vodno-Zelenyi Boulevard, Round Square, government buildings and the Main Square were built as in integral part of the new center of the city.
In 2002, Astana-Baiterek Monument — the silver construction with a golden globe at the top — was completed in the center of the Vodno-Zelenyi Boulevard. It became the iconic symbol of Astana. The striving to the sky Baiterek built from a sketch by Nursultan Nazarbayev received the Grand Prix and a golden medal at the 10th international competition as the best architectural monument in the CIS in 2002.
In 2003, aquarium complex "Duman" was completed, and it was registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as aquarium situated the farthest from the world ocean.
In 2003, the first 36-story or 155-meter tall skyscraper was built as the office of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. In 2004, the Round Square complex was completed that included administrative building of KazMunaiGaz and apartment buildings "Nurly Dala" and "Zhansaya."
The fourthstage - 2000-2007
During this stage, the main focus was on improving of living conditions of the residents and guests of the capital. According to the program "Astana Yards", 400 children playgrounds and 78 football (soccer) fields and sport grounds were built around the city.
A number of new apartments were completed and the total area of the living space of new apartments increased from 1.067 million square meters in 2005 to 1.852 million square meters in 2007. The city authorities were also dealing with shortages in pre-school centers and were building new kindergartens, schools and medical centers.
In 2006, the ensemble of the Main Square, Vodno-Zelenyi Boulevard and Baiterek Square and the flyover over the Round Square were completed.
The head of state made an important contribution to the building of the capital city. In 2007, the president established the Architectural Council, which included famous national and international specialists and architects.
In 2008, the government introduced law declaring a new national public holiday— the Day of the Capital to be celebrated on 6 July. It was on 6 July 1994 when the Supreme Soviet of Kazakhstan expressed its support for Nazarbayev's initiative to transfer the capital city.
Celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Astana as the capital of the independent Kazakhstan were held as the proof of the lightness of the decision of the president to create a new political center of the country.
Now, the city of Astana with its unique architecture is one of the most recognized images of the independent Kazakhstan. Nursultan Nazarbayev has overcome the doubts and distrust of skeptics, mobilized all efforts and financial resources for new construction in Astana. He displayed persistence and achieving the main goals, organizational talent, and ability to convince people and sharp intellect and diligence.
All other provinces of the republic contributed to the development of Astana and its growth.
In 2009, formal opening ceremonies were held of the monument "Kazakh Eli" (Kazakh Nation), the Palace of Independence, Central Concert Hall and football (soccer) stadium and others.
Source: NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV: THE FOUNDER OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE (The Chronicles of a Leader) published in Almaty, 2010, pp. 100-114
Data was given from the Institute of State History, Committee of Science of The Ministry of Education and Science
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