Attending the summit are Vladimir Putin, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
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Speech at the informal meeting of CIS heads of state
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
I would like to begin by thanking all of you for accepting my invitation and coming to St Petersburg today. I am very glad to see here, in this room, leaders representing countries that, considering a plethora of reasons and historical factors, are our closest friends, allies, and with whom we share a genuine strategic partnership. We are committed to working together in the spirit of good neighbourliness, mutual benefit and respect for each other’s interests.
Let me emphasise that informal meetings of CIS leaders in Russia’s northern capital are becoming a good tradition, allowing us to come together in a calm and friendly environment to exchange views on the most topical matters for our countries.
Today, we have an opportunity to make sure that we are on the same page ahead of the annual meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council, to be held next week in Astana. As its chair, Kazakhstan focused its agenda on major topics related to political, economic and humanitarian integration. As usual, a solid package of joint documents is being drafted for our approval.
Of course, during today’s meeting, as well as at the Astana summit, we will focus on furthering trade and investment partnerships within the CIS, and will explore ways to step up our joint efforts to make our economies even more resilient, by expanding bilateral cooperation and ensuring our technological sovereignty, among other things.
In this context, let me remind you that our countries have been consistent in expanding their economic cooperation. Last year, Russia’s trade with CIS countries increased by more than 30% to $96 billion, and added another 7% in the first six months of 2022.
I am certain that a proactive transition to settlements in national currencies in transactions within the Commonwealth will inject further momentum into these positive trends. In fact, we have been doing this for many years, so it has nothing to do with the current political situation. Overall, this will reinforce financial sovereignty for our states, develop internal capital markets, and deepen regional economic integration.
Of course, during discussions in our circlewe will also touch on matters related to ensuring security in the Commonwealth space. Indeed, in addition to Ukraine with the truly tragic events unfolding there, unfortunately, conflicts sometimes flare up between other close post-Soviet states, a fact that of course calls for steps to resolve them.
It is also important to exchange views on promoting cooperation in combating terrorism and extremism, crime, drug trafficking and corruption.
I would also like to note with satisfaction that Mr Kassym-Jomart Tokayev put forward an initiative to create, under the auspices of the CIS, an international organisation to support and promote the Russian language. We are very grateful to President Tokayev for this. I think this is important for everyone, since the Russian language is the language of interstate communication. Without doubt, this has a practical dimension since, without exaggeration, millions of CIS citizens are working in Russia to help it implement its development plans and earn money to support their families.
Of course, we support the proposal made by the President of Kazakhstan and, for our part, will do everything we can to bring it to life it as soon as possible, also because 2023 was declared the Year of the Russian Language as a Language of Interethnic Communication in the CIS.
We will also discuss preparations for the first-ever Russia-Central Asia summit to be held next week in Astana. As a reminder, this forum is being held in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and all five Central Asian states.
Indeed, we have many issues to discuss. We started discussing some of them as we were getting together, and all of them, be they of economic, social, or of an international legal nature, are of major importance for us. I am confident that we will have a productive meeting today.
Once again, I would like to thank you for accepting the invitation to come to St Petersburg.