Kazakhstan hires Blair as consultant
Kazakhstan said Monday it has hired former British prime minister Tony Blair as an economic consultant who can bring new investments to the energy-rich Central Asian state.
The Daily Telegraph earlier said Blair had signed a one-year contract worth eight million pounds ($12.7 million) with veteran President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government.
The foreign ministry refused to confirm the figure but said Blair was one of several foreign officials contracted by the Kazakh state.
"A number of prominent foreign government officials responded to the invitation of the government of Kazakhstan to provide advice on economic policy, on issues of public administration and international politics," foreign ministry spokesman Altai Abibbulayev told reporters.
"Among them are several former heads of state, including former prime minister Tony Blair," said the spokesman.
"Getting such politicians involved is already yielding important practical results that improve the attractiveness of Kazakhstan for investors and help adopt modern law for country's further development."
Presidential aide Yermukhamet Yertysbayev said Blair would probably deal with "the question of social-economic modernization of Kazakhstan.
"He has extensive ties. He himself worked on modernisation of such a well developed country as the United Kingdom," Yertysbayev told AFP.
Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan for the last two decades, first met Blair when the leader of the vast oil-rich Central Asian nation visited the United Kingdom in 2000.
Kazakhstan has been a darling of the foreign investment community, averaging almost 10-percent annual growth over the past decade, but remains an authoritarian regime with effective one-party rule and an omnipotent presidency.
Since leaving office in 2007, Blair became an official special envoy in the Middle East, launched the Blair Faith Foundation, and offered consulting services to foreign governments.
Blair has been under pressure in the British media over his role in the Middle East Quartet, where there has been no recent progress toward peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
© 2011 AFP