relatively even level of activity. Others have come to an end. Initially there was a serious language barrier to effective collaboration with Western countries, and limitations still exist. But young Kazakhstani specialists are increasingly mastering English, and some have mastered French or German.
Many new S&T linkages are being developed in commercial sectors, particularly with regard to development of oil and gas resources. For example, the petrochemical complexes in the country involve foreign investors and foreign management. Also, a variety of Western information technology companies have become interested in establishing a presence in Kazakhstan, and they are actively pursuing investment opportunities. Their presence is very visible in Almaty.
Some cooperative activities are undertaken pursuant to formal agreements between the government of Kazakhstan and other governments. Some of these agreements are considered “foreign assistance” agreements. Others are “S&T cooperation” agreements that specify areas of common interest. Others are simply open-ended agreements to cooperate in mutually beneficial fields that could involve S&T cooperation. A few agreements call for regional cooperation involving one or more other countries from Central Asia. But much of the international cooperation takes places on an informal basis between specialists and institutions with common scientific or economic interests.
As discussed below, important dimensions of cooperative activities with significant S&T components are programs financed by the international development banks (i.e., World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank). Also, many United Nations agencies and international scientific organizations have been active. A favorite theme of these organizations is environmental protection, including restoration of the Aral Sea, protecting biodiversity, limiting desertification, and conserving water resources.
In April 2006 the U.S. Department of State reported that international and foreign organizations were contributing more than $1.5 billion to active cooperative projects directed to science, technology, health care, and environmental protection. These projects ranged from small exchange activities costing less than $50,000 to large loans for tens of millions of dollars. Of course, such estimates are far from precise since S&T is often entwined in other activities, and separating the S&T expenditures is not routinely done. Nevertheless, it is clear that many organizations in the country and abroad are involved in a large number of cooperative programs that have direct relevance to the S&T capacity of Kazakhstan.
This chapter briefly discusses a few bilateral and international programs that are particularly important for enhancing the S&T infrastructure of the country. Since Russian and U.S. institutions are the most active foreign partners, a few comments on their activities are presented. Additional international programs and projects involving Kazakhstan are then noted. As to the other Central Asian republics, the ties between some Kazakhstani institutions and their counterparts in neighboring countries have long histories, although financial constraints usu-