Separately the two leaders discussed issues related to the development of the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus and the next steps towards shaping a common economic space of the three countries.
Dmitry Medvedev and Nursultan Nazarbayev also exchanged views on topical international issues, including the situation in North Africa, Japan and Central Asia.
* * *
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr President,
I am very happy to see you. This is our first meeting this year and I hope that it will be successful for our countries and for our nations. I hope the weather won’t play up either and we will get a good harvest…
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev: We’ve had a lot of snow.
Dmitry Medvedev: We’ve certainly had a lot of snow but I hope there won’t be any serious problems or disasters. Just look at what has happened in Japan: it is certainly a huge national calamity and disaster. So we will do everything in our power to develop a good relationship with our strategic partner, Kazakhstan.
“The only way to build a stable foundation for future prosperity is by following along the path of integration and promoting a modern form of integration, such as in Europe. But we still have a great deal to do.”
The relations linking us are long-term and stable. Only this year, we are planning to meet at least ten times, in a bilateral and in multilateral formats. We can by right be satisfied with what we achieved last year. First and foremost, I am referring to the Customs Union and paving the way towards the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. This is truly a qualitative step forward along the path to integration. This year promises to be filled with equally significant events.
We did not make integration our goal because we merely want to broaden our contacts or to have more international officials. Integration is a way to improve the quality of life for the citizens of our countries. The only way to build a stable foundation for future prosperity is by following along the path of integration and promoting a modern form of integration, such as in Europe. But we still have a great deal to do and I think here we have an opportunity to discuss what could be done and how to move forward. This is especially true since these processes have become a very stable trend over the past few years. You have always been a supporter of integration, a supporter of Eurasian cooperation and have consistently upheld this position. We have made significant progress in the past few years, and we are very pleased about that.
This year is special both for Kazakhstan and for Russia. We will hold the State Duma elections at the end of the year, and you will have presidential elections. I would like to say a few words about that, although from the point of view of international politics it may not be entirely correct for a president of another country to comment on an upcoming election. I want to say that we have great respect for you as our friend, a friend of the Russian Federation and as a person who has made an enormous contribution to the development of friendly relations between the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.
We wish you every success. I hope everything will go well and the two of us will continue to communicate in the course of this year, during our numerous bilateral and multilateral meetings. Once again, I warmly welcome you here in Moscow.
Nursultan Nazarbayev: Thank you, Mr President, for finding the time for our meeting.
Yes, this is our first meeting of the year. I would like to thank you for last year, for your personal involvement and Russia’s contribution to our chairmanship in the OSCE and participation in the summit. This was an important event for Kazakhstan and for our people, and we succeeded together with Russia and other CIS states. Last year was also special because we launched the Customs Union. This is the most successful integration project of the past 20 years, since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. We are committed to making it an attractive mechanism for everyone involved. We can see different opinions and discussions in the media. They say Russia’s interest lies in its imperial ambitions, for Kazakhstan the main benefit is transit and for Belarus it is energy resources. In fact, we have created a link between the European Union and China, between Europe and Asia.
I would like to inform you that in the first year of the Customs Union Russian exports to Kazakhstan increased by 25% or $11.8 billion, and Kazakhstani exports to Russia by $5 billion or by 30%. This shows we are reaching the pre-crisis level. The figures are roughly the same for Belarus. So, the benefits are obvious.
Dmitry Medvedev: Everyone has benefited.
Nursultan Nazarbayev: The benefits for everyone are obvious. It has drawn our nations closer and our business communities are very grateful to us.
From July 1, 2011 we will remove all customs posts along the border between Russia and Kazakhstan, all 7,500 kilometres of it. We will be closing our southern border, and have already closed the border with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. We need to clearly understand the importance of this achievement for the relationship between our countries.
As you said, we will have a lot of meetings this year, including the tenth meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which will be held in Astana, our traditional regional meeting in Astrakhan, and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the CIS in December. These are very important events and I would like to go over them with you.
I believe there are no outstanding issues in interstate bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Russia. I think this is an exemplary relationship between neighbours, allies and partners, acting for the benefit of their nations. Of course, we should also discuss the upcoming elections, what is happening in the world and the situation in North Africa. We should always consult each other on issues of food security and information security. It is therefore very important that we discuss these issues right at the start of the year. Thank you very much.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s talk about all that.