President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Nursultan Abishevich! Dear colleagues, dear friends!
In turn, I am happy to welcome you to the Forum of Border Regions. Indeed, this is already the fifth such meeting, and every time we meet we see how important and necessary the work we do here is.
The authority of the forum is growing and the number of participants is increasing. Nursultan Abishevich just said that we have agreed on forthcoming work and that in actual fact our forum is already interregional. This certainly reflects the wide range of Russian-Kazakhstani relations, is advantageous and convenient and, indeed, already exists today.
We were just at the exhibition. I told Nursultan Abishevich that in my opinion, when judged by its participants, samples, joint products and promising developments, this exhibition could adorn any multilateral forum; in other words, it could be part of a much larger international exhibition. And this represents just part of the opportunities available in a number of regions of Kazakhstan and Russia. Again, this is evidence of the potential and the prospects we have in this field.
It is obvious that our business communities and societies are also paying increased attention to our forum and this is certainly a clear indicator of the friendly, profound and mutually beneficial relations between Russia and Kazakhstan in a wide range of areas: in the political, economic, cultural and educational spheres.
I would emphasise that Russia and Kazakhstan are making positive contributions to the efforts of the international community to find adequate responses to the challenges that face our era. Nursultan Abishevich just talked about this, and in turn I would note that the current financial crisis that is creating many difficulties for the global economy certainly highlights the need to look for joint responses to this crisis. The more coordinated state actions there are, especially by close partner states, the easier it will be to overcome the effects of this kind of crisis.
Rising prices of natural resources and food are a result of processes that are no less complex. And in general we see that the current global system for managing these processes is insufficient. There is a lot of evidence for this in different areas, but unfortunately a new system for maintaining a global equilibrium in the economy and financial sector has not yet been established. And entire economies have actually had to pay for the fact that such a system does not yet exist. Incidentally, there are no international platforms in which these critical issues can be thoroughly and promptly discussed. There was, for example, an attempt to discuss these issues during the G8 in Japan, but for obvious reasons no action was taken. That is a shame. It is possible that in this new wave of the financial crisis a number of our states, partner states, would have been affected [by the crisis] in a different way.
In such an environment mutual understanding and support for bilateral cooperation is at the forefront of our priorities. It is this type of cooperation that has access to and influence in world commodity and financial markets and so underpins sustainable socio-economic development. And immediate neighbours, the border regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, have played a major role in confidence-building and developing economic contacts.
A few words concerning our strategic cooperation in the energy sector: this cooperation is directly linked to strengthening regional energy security. We know that the relationships between participants in the global energy market are becoming less and less satisfactory for both suppliers and importers. Everyone is very interested in stability and predictability. But stability must be mutual. There can be no formulae which are applicable or useful only to one party.
That is why we are in favour of improving international instruments in this field. It is impossible to ensure, for example, good conditions for energy consumers and not create normal conditions for energy suppliers (Kazakhstan and Russia are among energy suppliers) and transit countries. These are related processes and it is in this area that we must focus our future efforts.
Stability and predictability are two principles which underpin our entire cooperation with Kazakhstan. We will continue to increase the extraction and export of hydrocarbon raw materials, build new pipelines when beneficial and necessary, and attract substantial investments to the fuel and energy complex. We will work on the diversification of energy sources, deal with declining energy resources, and develop new types of energy. And I am sure that our states have very good prospects in these areas. Incidentally, the exhibition we visited today demonstrates exactly that.
Another important area that Nursultan Abishevich just mentioned and where our joint activities can produce very positive results is agriculture. It is clear that Russia and Kazakhstan can claim to be leading agricultural powers.
You know that the rapid increase in food prices has led to a global food crisis, accompanied by social upheaval in a number of countries. Certain states have responded to this crisis through so-called economic selfishness. This is not only unhelpful but even contributes to the global crisis and, moreover, expands it the long-term. The most efficient, most appropriate response to these challenges would be harmonising measures to stimulate the production of agricultural products — what we are actually engaged in today — and adjusting national energy strategies.
We believe that it is in the interests of both Russia and Kazakhstan to promote intensive dialogue to create a new, more effective system of global food security, politics and trade. And such initiatives were discussed here at the forum and will be discussed in the future.
I think that in general the development trends in today's world speak primarily to the need for innovation and advanced technology. We agreed some time ago that we need to intensify work in Russian-Kazakhstani relations in this field. This is understandable because the long-term economic policies of both Russia and Kazakhstan provide for the full modernisation of key industries and infrastructure. And to promote innovative breakthroughs in these areas we must engage in closer technological partnerships. We must increase mutual investment in the high-tech industry, including in the field of nanotechnology.
Today in Russia we aspire to give preferential treatment to foreign businesses and to enterprises involved in innovative industries more generally. In Kazakhstan as well such projects already exist, some of which are very advanced. I believe that our joint actions in this field can bring us very good results.
A year ago a special nanotechnology corporation was created and it is already actively working with our Kazakhstani partners. We appreciate the fact that the leadership of Kazakhstan has devoted special attention to this area. The agreement we reached in May this year in Astana is precisely what gave this cooperation its momentum. Incidentally at the same time we signed the Agreement on Cooperation between Rosnanotech and the Kazyna Sustainable Development Foundation.
There is tremendous scope for cooperation. We have just been to the exhibition and seen the possibility of manufacturing solar panels deployed in space, different sorts of flame retardants, oil pumps, gas stations and all kinds of products using nanotechnology. There are lots of other projects as well but most importantly we must engage on a substantive basis.
We look forward to the accelerated establishment of a Venture Capital Fund. This project has been in the pipeline for a long time. They would permit the use of nanotechnology in areas such as medicine, construction, housing and public facilities. There are commercially attractive developments in the energy sphere and in dual-use technologies. I am confident that cooperation in this sphere will be very useful.
Our interregional links provide evidence of the desire of our peoples for closer contacts: these links are actively growing and businesses are included in these processes. Our educational, scientific and cultural programmes are working well. And that is perhaps the most important thing, to strengthen kinship and friendly contacts between our peoples.
Nursultan Abishevich has spoken of the figures that we have attained. They are indeed very good: a fourfold increase in trade, and in the first five months of this year trade was almost $10 billion, which is a third more than the figures for the same period last year.
There is a strong agricultural, industrial and scientific base in the border areas of Russia and Kazakhstan. There is also a longstanding practice of training highly skilled specialists in cutting-edge fields of high technology. All of this provides a very strong foundation for our cooperation. It is perhaps equally important that local authorities from both sides are interested in this cooperation and in helping people to remove barriers to communication. For example, last year in two parts of the Russian-Kazakhstani border seven new border crossings were established. But we need to further develop these processes, we need to simplify these procedures. Today Nursultan Abishevich and I also talked about ways of ensuring that the procedure was integrated, the border crossings were integrated, and that the business of filling out forms and actually crossing the border could be done as expeditiously as possible.
The areas of possible cross-border cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres are vast. There is as much potential here as in the economic sphere. We need to seek out more actively than we have been the experience acquired in our countries, to conduct as wide a variety as possible of informational activities, festivals and conferences.
It is good that this cooperation involves not only the border regions but also the large cities and regions of our country — I mean St Petersburg, Alma-Ata, Tatarstan and the Karaganda region. That is why we decided to reshape the Forum.
It was no accident that as the venue for this Forum we chose the Aktyubinsk region, one of the most successful developing regions in Kazakhstan. In this region there are more than a hundred joint Russian-Kazakhstani enterprises. And these are actual functioning entities, not just creations on paper. We will continue to support the development of interregional and cross-border links, including those that enrich and strengthen cooperation between our countries.
As a result of today's Forum we agreed to issue the directives needed to ensure that the cooperation discussed today also receives formal support at the level of heads of states.
In conclusion, let me wish the Forum every success in its work and continued success to our regions, the border regions and all the regions of Kazakhstan and Russia.
Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Nursultan Abishevich! Dear Colleagues!
I would like to thank all the participants of this Forum for their informative presentations, in which there have been very specific proposals that require further assessment, development, and in some cases simply direct implementation. In this connection, I would like to single out four points I think essential for continuing our joint practical work.
One idea that was voiced here by Nursultan Abishevich, is to establish a special group to monitor the evolution of the main areas of our cooperation. I think that this idea deserves support. We can jointly determine the level and composition of this group and it can get to work. It was understood that, in order to do its work properly, such a group wouldn't meet from time to time (once every six months or even less) but rather engage continuously in this monitoring. In this way it could make the quick decisions necessary to effect the changes that the situation requires. The level of Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation deserves this kind of working group.
Another topic that has been discussed in various forums for a long time is the two possibilities for the development of navigation, the idea of expanding the capacity of the Volga-Don canal and the Eurasia canal. I think that today we are at the very least obliged to bring down the curtain on expert analyses of this subject or, more precisely, to make them fully operational. We have to create a definitive group of experts, independent and uncommitted, which is able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each option and present us with their conclusions. Therefore, I think that transport ministers should address this issue and that our colleagues should involve themselves in preparing and adopting a decision on this matter.
Another issue that was discussed during the visit to the exhibition and in some of the presentations was the road that connects eastern Kazakhstan and the Altai region. We need to think about how to develop this project, perhaps as a joint project involving resources from the investment fund, and to create some sort of a Russian-Kazakhstani partnership, because this is a very important artery. I think that we could also give this project some momentum after this meeting of our Forum.
The final issue involves our colleague, the head of the Orenburg region, who proposed that we meet next year in Orenburg. Nursultan Abishevich and I discussed this. I think that we should accept his invitation and agree that the next forum will take place in Orenburg in early September 2009.