President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Mr President, colleagues!
Mr Putin, it is deeply symbolic that your visit to our country is taking place in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighbourliness and Alliance in the 21st century. The amount of work we have done together during this period has brought the relations between our countries to a whole new level, and much of the credit for that goes to you as the President of the Russian Federation.
Russia is a strategic partner and ally of Kazakhstan. Relying on the unwavering values of common history, strong friendship, mutual respect and trust, we have built bilateral relations, which are a striking example of the realisation of mutual interests across many areas. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm Kazakhstan’s commitment to our strategic course of continuing to strengthen multifaceted cooperation with Russia.
Today’s talks with the President of Russia were held in a traditionally open and friendly atmosphere. During the meetings in the restricted and expanded formats, we discussed a wide array of bilateral issues and items on the international agenda. Given the vast potential for mutually beneficial cooperation, we reiterated our shared desire to expand political, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.
We focused specifically on trade, economic and investment interaction, which has been steadily growing as of late. Russia is by far Kazakhstan’s largest trade and economic partner. Over the past three years, mutual trade has increased by over 30 percent. According to Kazakhstan’s statistics, trade reached a record $27 billion last year. The positive dynamics continued into this year with $17 billion for the first eight months of the year.
Overall, we have ample opportunity to further increase mutual trade. In this context, we have noted the significant intensification of ties between the business circles of the two countries.
Russian companies are among the five leading investors in Kazakhstan’s economy with a total volume of investment exceeding $20 billion. In the first half of this year alone, Russian investment in Kazakhstan’s economy exceeded $1 billion, which is 20 percent more than last year. In turn, the volume of Kazakhstani investment reached $6 billion. It is gratifying to know that this is a reciprocal process.
We discussed in detail prospects for mutually beneficial manufacturing cooperation. As of today, our pool of joint projects has been expanded to 143 with an overall investment value of over $33 billion. Our governments have been instructed to systematically support the quality implementation of these projects.
In addition, we discussed cooperation in energy and the implementation of large oil-and-gas projects. We consider the further development of the project on Russian gas distribution to the south and volume increases in Russian oil transit to China via Kazakhstan to be very important.
We noted the importance of ensuring sustainable functioning of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). In this context, I expressed our gratitude to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. In other words, the CPC, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium is doing a good job.
We paid special attention to transport and transit and agreed to work on the coordinated development of transport corridors on the territory of our countries.
In this context, we will consistently develop the potential of such important projects as the North-South International Transport Corridor, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, and the Ayagoz-Bakhry railway, to name a few.
We agreed that to use these routes in full measure, we need to upgrade the existing infrastructure, simplify administrative procedures and resolve other logistics problems.
The governments were instructed to continue close cooperation in these areas taking into account the mutual interests of the two countries.
We emphasised the need to continue the practice of holding annual interregional forums, which have a good reputation. I would like to add that interregional cooperation accounts for two thirds of our trade.
Today, President Putin and I took part in the work of the 19th Interregional Cooperation Forum. It focused on agricultural development.
Last year, our trade in the agro-industrial sector increased by 24 percent to $3.6 billion. Trade continues to grow this year as well.
Our regions and business people signed a solid package of agreements at the forum. They suggested specific initiatives on implementing mutually beneficial projects.
I am confident that the current forum will open a new page in the history of interregional cooperation and will impart a powerful impetus to the development of our economies.
During today’s talks, we signed a number of important documents to promote our partnership in healthcare, energy, agriculture and sports, to name a few. Proper implementation of these agreements will help improve living standards in both Kazakhstan and Russia.
We paid special attention to the further promotion of cultural and humanitarian ties. This comprehensive work covers the cross years of culture, cooperation in the arts, education and science, expansion of contacts between the creative intelligentsia of the two countries and preservation of our common historical heritage.
This year, Kazakhstan hosted educational workshops, art exhibitions, film screenings and theatre plays as part of the Russian Seasons project. All these events brought lively interest from the Kazakh audience.
We confirmed our mutual interest in expanding cooperation in education. The share of Kazakh students in the total number of foreigners studying in Russia is traditionally high. This reflects the educational potential and demand for Russian universities in Kazakhstan.
We reviewed the opportunities for the reciprocal opening of Kazakh and Russian university branches in our countries. I am confident these measures will promote the further rapprochement of friendly relations between our peoples.
Today, we also exchanged views on current regional and global issues. President Putin shared with us his opinion that is of great political and practical interest to Kazakhstan.
We discussed in detail prospects for and promotion of integration in Eurasia and emphasised the importance of coordinating efforts to ensure sustainable growth, stability and security in our region. We also noted mutual understanding on interaction in major international organisations and integration associations. We are grateful to Russia for supporting theConference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and our Chairmanship in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
We share the view that steady progress in our region meets the fundamental interests of our peoples. Kazakhstan firmly adheres to its international commitments and stands for the development of mutually beneficial relations with interested states.
The results of our talks today with the President of Russia confirmed our mutual striving for the all-round promotion of friendly, allied relations between Kazakhstan and Russia. As for our international commitments, they naturally apply to the Russian Federation as well. I am convinced that the agreements achieved will help us further deepen our bilateral strategic partnership.
Thank you for your attention. I would like to thank the leader of the Russian Federation again for his official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan. In my opinion, it was a great success.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President.
The President of Kazakhstan has offered quite a detailed overview of our relations in terms of their nature and level. And I could say, in general, that I agree with everything he said and share his views. We could just as well stop right here, because this is true, and there is not much I can add to this.
Nevertheless, I do have to say that today’s talks indeed took place in a business-like and constructive manner and were very effective.
We discussed the bilateral relations between our countries in great detail and heard presentations by top executives representing our ministries, agencies and major corporations on the key aspects of Russia-Kazakhstan cooperation.
It is worth noting that the Joint Statement we signed and the three-year Plan of Action we adopted set forth objectives that are truly ambitious in terms of further strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership.
Intergovernmental and inter-agency documents signed here over these days will help deliver on this task by covering our cooperation in its multiple aspects and various sectors, including politics, security, economics, cultural and humanitarian affairs.
During the talks, we noted that bilateral trade increased by more than 10 percent in 2022 and reached the level as described by Mr President. This is a positive result.
Meanwhile, we have substantially increased the share of national currencies in our bilateral trade, with 75 percent of our transactions already carried out in rubles and tenge.
I would like to emphasise that Russia is one of the largest investors in Kazakhstan’s economy. As we have already said, our statistics may vary, but according to the data we have, Russia’s accumulated investment in Kazakhstan is equal to about $17 billion, while Kazakhstan’s statistics show $20 billion. I agree with the President of Kazakhstan that the actual figure falls within this range, which is a good result.
There are about 6,000 business entities with Russian capital in Kazakhstan, while joint projects involving Russia, taken together, are estimated to be worth $36.5 billion.
Bilateral cooperation in the energy sector is on the rise, as has already been said here. Most of Kazakhstan’s oil is transited to international markets via Russia, and Russian oil is shipped across Kazakhstan to China. In addition, our country imports coal from Kazakhstan, carries out mutual distribution of electricity and transits Kazakhstan’s coal to consumers.
We have also discussed this, and there are issues that require some coordination and clarification of the figures. We are ready to meet our Kazakhstani friends halfway and to meet their needs.
We maintain uninterrupted gas distribution to consumers in Uzbekistan, which is especially important during peak winter consumption. We are also aware of the growing Kazakhstani economy’s need for primary energy resources. The President and I are talking about this and are ready for long-term – I would like to emphasise this – long-term cooperation in the future. This is very important because it will ensure stability in the energy sector.
We also need to discuss the expansion of infrastructure capacity on both sides – it is also clear what should be done and how, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. We have always had very good cooperation in this area.
Last week, Russia and Kazakhstan signed a new bilateral agreement on strategic cooperation in the gas sector. The document creates a reliable legal framework for partnership between our countries in geological exploration and production of natural gas, as well as processing and transport.
Bilateral relations in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are also expanding; there are joint ventures for uranium mining and enrichment.
I would also like to mention that many large Russian mining companies are working productively in Kazakhstan extracting coal, copper and other in-demand resources.
The two countries are implementing a number of major joint industrial cooperation projects such as producing polyvinyl chloride and other chemicals, mineral fertilisers, and truck components. Work is underway to increase the share of local manufacturers in the assembly of Lada cars in Kazakhstan.
I reaffirmed during today’s talks – the President and I have been talking about this a lot – that we are ready to increase this cooperation, create additional capacity in Kazakhstan, and transfer certain technologies and competencies.
The major Russian industrial exhibition – INNOPROM – took place in Astana in late September. Our achievements and innovation-related products were presented there, and we take pride in the fact that we have achieved these things.
I have said it publicly before, and I can say it again that we find this critically important. Our economy is growing, and this year growth will amount to nearly 3 percent – not as much as in Kazakhstan, of course, with its more than 5 percent – but still this is quite decent for today’s Russian economy and the Russian economy in general. Over the last two months we have seen 5.2 percent growth every month, which is around 3 percent annualised. Most importantly, though, the structure of the Russian economy is changing, which makes us happy.
We have a 3 percent increase in the energy sector, and refining operations account for 43 percent of the overall growth. That has never happened in Russia’s modern history, never. Maybe, something like that happened in the Soviet Union during industrialisation. We see real shifts [in the economy] going the right way. Current international circumstances encourage the Russian economy to revive previous competencies and acquire new ones. And we are doing a good job at it.
Of course, we will be happy to use existing best practices – to reiterate, this primarily includes the refining industry and science-intensive industries – in conjunction with our Kazakhstani friends. Without a doubt, events such as INNOPROM create the proper conditions and provide additional information for our partners.
Cooperation in the transport and logistics sectors is critically important to us. The volume of rail freight and passenger transport is steadily on the rise. We have discussed several times earlier today that great prospects are opening up in connection with the North-South international transport corridor from Russia and even from Belarus to the coast of the Indian Ocean. One of the routes passes through Kazakhstan.
It is important that in a collaborative effort with our Kazakh friends we have managed to keep and multiply our close cooperation in space exploration. The joint operation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome continues. We mentioned this earlier – and I would very much like our colleagues to support this – we would also like to expand our cooperation in this regard. This is not so much about launches, but about establishing cooperation to manufacture space equipment and spacecraft. This is something we need to think about and work on from both sides.
President Tokayev and I also talked about strengthening our military and military-technical cooperation. Both Russia and Kazakhstan are CSTO members, and Russia has gone to great lengths to help Kazakhstan train its military personnel and specialists at academies operated by the Russian Defence Ministry and other military and law enforcement agencies. We helped Kazakhstan launch the production and servicing of Russian military equipment on its territory by issuing the relevant licences.
Of course, region-to-region ties play one of the key roles in promoting the Russia-Kazakhstan partnership in all its aspects. Today, we attended the opening session of the 19th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum which is taking place in Kostanay. I must say that this is a very good event since it brings together people who, as I have already said during the expanded meeting, are operating on the ground, both literally and figuratively. The figurative sense here is clear, since they are always operating on the ground in general, but this is also true literally since today’s forum focuses on agricultural cooperation, which means working together in the soil. This is extremely important work and a great platform for deepening our cooperation. In fact, even if I do not remember the exact percentages anymore, but in terms of cross-border cooperation this sector already accounts for a substantial share of our trade.
It goes without saying that we discussed cultural and humanitarian cooperation during the talks, including the progress in carrying out the initiative by the President of Kazakhstan to establish an International Organisation for the Russian Language for the purpose of promoting it around the world. This is yet another competitive advantage we have: speaking Russian in the post-Soviet space offers additional advantages in terms of facilitating contacts, but when there is no language linking various nations and states and enabling them and their people to talk to each other – this undermines communication. And if there are no such obstacles, and I do hope that we will do everything to make sure that this is the case, including by carrying out the initiative put forward by the President of Kazakhstan, this offers us a substantial competitive edge. This is completely obvious.
We signed a treaty establishing this organisation at the October CIS Summit in Bishkek. Together with its CIS partners, Russia is committed to making every effort to launch it as quickly as possible.
I would like to point out that this goes beyond the formalities I have just mentioned. This was in fact an initiative coming from the President of Kazakhstan. President Tokayev came up with this concept. One day, he approached me during an event and said: “Look, I have this idea, a proposal.” This came as a surprise for me. We did not prompt him in any way. It was the President of Kazakhstan who put forward this idea. Not only did this come as a pleasant surprise, but I also think that it was a very useful proposal for promoting our practical cooperation.
I would also like to note that 60,000 Kazakhstani students are enrolled in Russia, and this issue has also been mentioned. I know that President Tokayev supports the process of establishing subsidiaries of Russian universities in Kazakhstan. The President prioritises technical universities. All right, we will do our best to implement this project on the greatest possible scale.
It has also been noted that Kazakhstan has been successfully hosting the Russian Seasons since early 2023. In turn, we are ready to organise similar Kazakhstani events in Russia. I would like the President and all our colleagues to take note.
While reviewing international issues, we focused on our integration efforts, primarily within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, currently chaired by Kazakhstan.
The President and I agreed to continue jointly facilitating the development of all these formats and to strengthen our alliance within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, due to be chaired by Kazakhstan next year.
We also discussed the coordination of our countries’ efforts at the UN. We will continue to jointly uphold the principles of the primacy of international law, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states and the right to a free model of development.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the President and I will meet again in late November at the CSTO summit in Minsk. I have also extended an invitation to the President of Kazakhstan to visit St Petersburg in December and to take part in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, as well as an informal meeting of EAEU and CIS leaders that has become a tradition.
Of course, I would like to express my satisfaction that the results of our joint work during the visit certainly facilitate and will facilitate the continued progress of our diverse bilateral relations for the benefit of our nations.
I would also like to thank the President of Kazakhstan and all our friends for this invitation and for the atmosphere created for our successful work today.