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Exclusive interview with Aidar Makhmetov, PR director of Samruk – Kazyna: 100 million dollars a year, the budget for the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”, Kazakhstan



With a strong economic performance that has been driven largely by its natural resources sector, Kazakhstan is now aiming the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

 makhmetovIn an interview offered exclusively for, at the VI Astana Economic Forum, Aidar Makhmetov, General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana” and PR director of  “Samruk – Kazyna” (a company that owns more than 50% of the country’s GDP), stated that they are an ambitious club and that they want to invest as much as possible in professional sports.

The Club, created by Samruk – Kazyna and supported by the President of Kazakhstan and with a budget of over 100 million dollars a year is set out to be one of the most successful sports projects.


Read the full interview: 

Calea Europeana: Mr. Makhmetov, in December last year, you were appointed as the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”. What are the main objectives you have in this area?

Aidar Makhmetov: I am not only the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”, I am also PR director of “Samruk – Kazyna”, the biggest national welfare fund from Kazakhstan, and in the past few years, we have sponsored several National Olympic Federations for sports such as athletism, wrestling, boxing etc. We are also sponsoring sports within other organizations, we support some of the most important sports image projects in Kazakhstan, and also teams of our own, such as Astana Team. So we decided to gather all these projects in one club and call it Presidential Professional Sports Club “Astana” because we had a good example from Real Madrid – the King’s club.

Calea Europeana: So it is not just a coincidence, the President of Kazakhstan is really involved and supporting the project.

Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, the President is supporting us. We brought up our plans to the President and he supported this and that is why the name of our club is the Presidential Club. We are supporting man clubs, in general, for example Cycling Club Astana, Basketball Club Astana, Football Club Astana, Ice-Hokey Team, Water Polo Astana, Polo Astana and also the National project regarding wrestling, so are supporting all sports, we manage both the image and the financial things within this club. We want to develop the club on a higher level and to make it maybe the second Real Madrid.

Calea Europeana: So your investments also go towards branding?

Aidar Makhmetov: We would like to establish a brand at an international level because people should know it is also about Astana, not only about the sport clubs. If they can see Astana and all our clubs, then they should know more about Astana, that it represents Kazakhstan.

Calea Europeana: You see it as an opportunity to promote not only the sport, but also the country. It is a great responsability.

Aidar Makhmetov: It is a huge responsability, but for us it is something normal.

Calea Europeana: It may be a motivation for the people involved in sport activities, for the players.

Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, of course, it is a big responsibility for people and they feel honored to come to Astana Club. The players should know more about it and have the spirit of our country, not only how to make best performance. For example, I heard it also in my career, because two years ago I managed the Cycling Team Astana in France so all the members of the team that were from Italia, let’s say, or Spain, were also having the spirit of our country. And this is very important for us.

Calea Europeana: What are the main performances that you have achieved with the Astana Club?

Aidar Makhmetov: The first performance was almost two weeks ago, we won World Series of Boxing (WSB) Team Finals, Arlans- our boxing team, became the world champion. WSB is one of the most important projects of the AIBA, the international boxing association, so this world league is going on for the last few years and in the first year, we got the second place, the last year we won the third place and now also made it here, in Astana, we organized the final, here. It was also a big responsibility because the people that came were from the highest level, the highest representative from the international box association. Our boxers brought this celebration to all the Kazakh people, this is our success, we are very happy. In two weeks from now, our representative to the Astana Dakar Team will participate in the Euro Cup on the tracks, so we are confident he will be successful there. For us is very important to be present at the World League, so our football team will participate to the future UEFA Cup. And we also have two more additional projects that are not formed as a club, because they are individuals. I am talking about two time champion in the Olympic weightlifting Ilya Ilyin and another one who won the silver medal in the last World Championship. We understand that they are very talented and we want to give them all the support they need. They are young in despite of their high achievements which they already made, so we are supporting them as much as we can.

Calea Europeana: You practically invest a lot in the future. With this in mind, because you want to have performance, doesn’t it require a large amount of money?

Aidar Makhmetov: The full budget of our clubs is more than 100 million dollars per year, so we want to make a four year deal with Samruk – Kazyna to secure these financial aspects because you know that in professional sports is very important to have a long term budget.From this point we try to secure our next four years, until the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. At the same time, also, we have to get money from our other activities like selling TV rights, selling of the fun productions and so on. We are just starting this work now in the Presidential Sport Club Astana. And we want to make it on a very high professional level and that is why all these areas should work perfectly inside of our club and it will.

Calea Europeana: I understood that you also played professional sports?

Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, I’ve been three-time world shidokan karate champion.

Calea Europeana: You’ve mentioned earlier about the Club’s boxing champions, we also have in Romania some important champions, if you maybe heard of Lucian Bute, Leonard Doroftei?  

Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, I’ve heard about them, also Francis Vastag, and I respect the Romanian boxers, I know Zoltan Lunka who performed in Germany, but is originary from Romania. And also about Mihai Nistor (heavyweight), he is very good and talented and we are happy to have him in our team.

Calea Europeana: You already found a partner in sports in the Romanian people. I am very happy to hear all the plans that you have.

Aidar Makhmetov: That is very good, as you can see, we have enough infrastructure now to do it on the highest level. For example, tomorrow, we have the figure skaters who we are also supporting will offer a big performance here, they are the biggest figure skaters in the world now and will offer a great show, that is not so common.

Calea Europeana: Is there also a great impact on health population?

Aidar Makhmetov: Health is very important, but we do not want to be the Ministry of Sport, that is their duty. Our goal is to support professional sport. We are, by supporting the professional sport, also supporting the popularity of the sport, and if the people in Kazakhstan will see how successful our sportsmen are, they will also this desire to make something to do something, for their own good, for the country’s or for the money, at least. It is important to do something for your country, even President Kennedy said in the 60’s that the development of the nations is in two things: the flight in cosmos and the Olympic medals. I think we are achieving both of these, we are flying to cosmos and winning gold medals. We are an ambitious club and we want to go the highest level and we want to develop.


Makhmetov Aidar Alimzhanovich was born in 1979, native of the Astana city.
 He is a graduate of “Bolashak” Presidential program, Doctor of Political Sciences, University of Cologne (Germany), 2007 – 2011, Master of Economics of the University of Kassel (Germany), 2000-2002. He graduated with honors from the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Eurasian National University after L. Gumilyov, 1996 – 2000. Since February 2012 he has been working as Director of the Department of Public Relations of “Samruk-Kazyna” JSC. In December 2012 he was appointed as the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”.


MEP Vasile Blaga: The crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, must have a firm response from the EU



© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) argues that the current crisis in Afghanistan must be a priority on the agenda of the European institutions, which have resumed their work after the summer break.

In a statement for CaleaEuropeană, MEP Vasile Blaga said that the crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, “must have a clear and firm response from the European Union.”

“The European Parliament has put the crisis in Afghanistan on its agenda this session. I expect that all the debates on the situation in Afghanistan will lead to solutions to the serious humanitarian situation that is about to unfold in Afghanistan. The EU, but also the Member States, owe a debt of gratitude to Afghan citizens who suddenly see their security and that of their families threatened”, added the EPP MEP.

The European Union this week began discussing the implications of recent events in Afghanistan for security and migration within the 27-nation Union.

The Foreign Affairs Committee, Development Committee and Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Afghanistan will hear from Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, who will present an assessment of the latest developments in Afghanistan. European Commission representatives are also expected to address MEPs.

Afghanistan has been rocked by deadly violence and a brutal terror attack against Kabul airport over the past few days, in the midst of U.S. and international troops evacuating from the country by 31 August.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU response to future health crises and progress of national recovery and resilience plans, important issues on EP agenda



MEP Vasile Blaga  (EPP) argues that the September plenary session of the European Parliament should debate as a priority the EU’s instruments in the face of health and humanitarian crises, as well as the progress of National Recovery and Resilience Plans.

According to the MEP, the European Parliament is putting on the agenda extremely important issues for the future of the Union.

„I believe that an EU response to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic is vital. The future of the Union must find us prepared for potential health threats similar to the coronavirus pandemic. We can all see that a health emergency of the scale of the present one can only be managed by joint measures taken by all Member States. This unfortunate experience of the last two years has shown us the fragility of the EU in the face of external health threats. We need to learn from this so that the negative social and economic effects will not be repeated in the future”, said Vasile Blaga in a statement to CaleaEuropeană.

A second priority, says the EPP MEP, is linked to an accelerated recovery of the EU economies: “National recovery and resilience plans must be urgently adjusted and approved so that investment policies become engines of development in each Member State and, as a whole, kick-start the EU economy as a whole. The European Parliament must closely follow, also during this session, the progress of the national recovery plans and the way each Member State spends the money allocated by the NRRP to achieve the objectives listed in the Recovery and Resilience Facility”, added Vasile Blaga.

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After working on infrastructure projects for NASA and the British Air Force F-35 aircraft, Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure will modernize Campia Turzii Air Base, together with the consortium represented by Leviatan Design



©️ Forțele Aeriene Române

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The tender for the first phase of the project, worth 514 million lei, on “Realization of infrastructure – operational area in barracks 1833 Câmpia Turzii” was won by the joint venture Telekom Romania Communications SA – Ubitech Construcții SRL – Petrodesign SA and Leviatan Design SRL, as leader of this partnership.

“Our consortium has the necessary experience, both from a national perspective, through similar specific projects it has carried out, and from an international perspective, through the partners we collaborate with”, said Cătălin Podaru, director of Leviatan Design, the company that participated in the pre-feasibility study for the multi-roller infrastructure at Câmpia Turzii.

Among the key international partners involved in the Câmpia Turzii project is Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, part of the Lagan Construction Group Ltd, established in 1962. The Brits build infrastructure to the highest safety standards for Romania’s most important strategic-military partners: Among the most recent major British-managed projects are aviation projects at Dublin Airport and RAF Marham, an important strategic base for the British Royal Air Force, for the operation of F35 multi-role aircraft. The contract to upgrade infrastructure and facilities at RAF Marham is worth £135 million.

Recently, the company has successfully delivered projects at Heathrow, London City Airport, RAF Akrotiri and RAF Gibraltar. In recent years, the company has also executed a £23 million runway resurfacing contract at RAF Northolt.

The group also has a specialist US airport team based in Virginia, Washington DC, currently working at Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Wallops Flight Facility for NASA.

This company’s expertise in infrastructure projects for F-16 aircraft is important for defence projects at Câmpia Turzii, as the Romanian base hosts F-16 aircraft of the Romanian and allied air forces, as well as American MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The Campia Turzii Air Base is one of the key strategic points in Romania’s defence and security infrastructure, being treated as such even by allies. In May this year, the US Air Force announced that the United States will invest $152 million in 15 infrastructure upgrades at Romania’s Câmpia Turzii Air Base.

The first works have already started in May-August 2021. The US Air Force plans to spend $130 million this year on “mission optimisation” at the Romanian air base. This amount is reflected in the Department of Defense budget for this year and represents the largest US military investment in Europe for 2021.

Other new modernisation projects are due to start at the end of 2021.

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