MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA 127

15 October 1997

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Peter Tesch as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan. Mr Tesch will replace Mr Douglas Townsend, who has been Ambassador since June 1995.

Mr Tesch's appointment comes at an important time in Australia's relations with Kazakhstan. As a recently independent country in the process of transition to a market economy, Kazakhstan offers promising scope for Australian commercial involvement, particularly in the mining and services sectors, and the Australian Government has been keen to support our commercial interests there. To this end, Australia established a resident diplomatic mission in Almaty in 1995, the only such Australian mission, apart from Moscow, that has been established in the countries which once formed part of the Soviet Union.

In seeking to build the relationship with Kazakhstan a number of high level visits between the two countries have taken place in the recent past. In July 1993, Kazakhstan's then Prime Minister, Mr Tereshchenko, visited Australia. The following April, Australia's then Governor-General, Mr Hayden visited Kazakhstan, and in December last year, Kazakhstan's President, Mr Nazarbayev visited Australia at the head of large Kazakhstan delegation.

Mr Tesch joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1987. He has worked predominantly on trade development matters, with a particular focus on Europe and the former USSR. He served in Moscow from 1989 to 1991. From 1993 to 1994 he was on the staff of the then Minister for Trade, where his responsibilities included advising on trade and economic relations with western and central Europe and the successor states of the Soviet Union. Mr Tesch was the Business Relations Manager in the Department's Victorian State Office from 1994 to 1996. Most recently he has been Director of the Business Affairs Section in the Department in Canberra. In that capacity he played a key role in organising the National Trade and Investment Outlook Conference (NTIOC) in Melbourne in 1996.

Mr Tesch is a graduate of the University of Queensland and speaks Russian and German.

Mr Tesch is expected to take up his appointment in November 1997.