Selected for Visiting American Writer's Program

By Dorothea Cooke | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

( - has been selected along with other news organizations to participate in the Visiting American Writers Program sponsored by the President's Office of the Government of Kazakhstan.

The program was started last year by Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev to provide "orientation visits" for American writers, said Peter Hannaford, Managing Director of the Franklin Firm Division of the Carmen Group, Inc., which handles public relations for Kazakhstan and helps coordinate the visits.

The purpose of the program, said Hannaford, is to acquaint the world with Kazakhstan. "It is not very well known here and it is a huge country. It is larger than all of Western Europe, and in American terms it is equivalent to four Texas' and it's the biggest country in Central Asia and the only country that borders both Russia and China."

According to Hannaford journalists are free to cover and report on topics of their own choosing.'s Executive Editor Scott Hogenson was chosen to participate in the program. Also invited were R. Emmett Tyrell, editor of the American Spectator and William Ratliff a senior research fellow with the Hoover Institute.

Making the first trip last year were syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, DiDi Schanche, deputy foreign editor with the Washington Times and Phil Turgin a columnist with the Providence Journal and Knight-Ridder. A third group is expected to go this summer.

"Every five or six months we take a small group of American writers over to Kazakhstan to get to know the country and learn about its background, history, culture and modern development as a democracy in the making and its growing market economy," Hannaford told Kazakhstan was a part of the old Soviet Union and declared its independence in 1991.

He went on to say that the program also deals with Kazakhstan's geographically strategic location as it borders both China and Russia. It's border with Russia runs over 4,000 miles and the one with China is over 900 miles.

The Central Asian state, said Hannaford "is strategically important to the United States. It's developing oil and gas industry there is being developed largely by American companies. They have enormous petroleum reserves, so much that in about 10 years they are expected to be the third largest in the world."

"It is particularly timely for these journalists to be going over there now with the rising oil prices and still our great dependence on OPEC suppliers. Here is a potential supplier and while it cannot relieve the current problem it has the potential to be a great future supplier and they are not members of OPEC and are good friends of the United States," Hannaford told

Hannaford said the reporters will be briefed on political, economic, environmental, security and cultural developments in Kazakhstan.