The 1st Central Asian Media Forum held in Astana

Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, suggested launching a new multi-national TV channel that will cover the news throughout the Central Asian region

The 1st Central Asian Media Forum was held this week (21.12.2022) in Astana. More than 100 experts participated in the event, including laureates of the Pulitzer Prize, international and local journalists, influencers, heads of international organizations, and media experts. The forum’s goal is to serve as a unique platform for collaboration between the region’s nations. The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, suggested launching a special TV channel, or news website, to cover the whole Central Asian region.

The two-day event focused on the acute issues of media development, enabling the participants to exchange best practices in this sphere. For the first time in Central Asia, various media issues were jointly discussed, such as the measurement of regional identity, social media developments, AI technologies in the media, regional and global cooperation for information security, media literacy, and women’s role in media.

From Hollywood to Astana

Hollywood actor and legendary boxer, Roy Jones, four-time New York Times best-selling author Liz Welch, Jeremy Gilley, who established the UN International Day of Peace together with Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergen, and other famous media personalities took part in the event. In a letter to the participants, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed out the importance of jointly debating professional positions and views.

 Former President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, who participated in the Forum, spoke about the role of the media in a changing world: “every person can become a global citizen, who can express his own point of view. The media has a mirror effect, because through it we get a true picture of what is happening in other countries”. Gul also congratulated the leadership of Kazakhstan, for “its efforts on ensuring sovereignty and territorial integrity, building good relations with neighbor countries, and transitioning to a market economy.”

Bridging the gender gaps

One of the highlights of the forum was a presentation of ‘The Eagle Huntress’ memoir by Liz Welch. The Eagle Huntress is about Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a teenage girl from the nomad Kazakh minority living in Mongolia. Aisholpan was the first female in her family to become an eagle hunter and the only girl to compete in the Golden Eagle competition.

During this presentation, the deputy head of Kazakhstan’s Presidential Administration, Aida Balayeva, said that since its independence, Kazakhstan has taken many progressive measures to confront gender inequality. “This was made possible only thanks to the joint efforts of the government and the civil society with media playing a key part”. Balayeva added that the country plans to significantly bridge the gender gap in the next years.

Central Asian Cooperation

Erlan Karin, Kazakhstan’s State Counsellor, focused his speech on the cooperation between the Central Asian countries, which has been actively developing recently. “The consultative meetings of the heads of Central Asian countries gave a special push to it. Today, Central Asia has turned into an independent region. This is a result of our common aspiration to demonstrate our regional identity and to form a common cultural space. We should deepen this interaction, strengthening ties in media, cultural-humanitarian and soci-political life”, Erlan Karin said.

Addressing the forum, the First Secretary General of the Organization of Turkic States, Halil Akinci, said that the Turkic Council should play its role in the resolution of inner conflicts and at the same time facilitate the strengthening of economic cooperation. “The economies of the Central Asian region complement each other. There are problems, for instance, lack of water resources, that need to be tackled in a concerted effort and through regional cooperation.” He also emphasized that preserving stability in Afghanistan is one of the most important goals for Central Asia.