Vladimir Putin: Many people in the Kazakh leadership have a mentality similar to Russian. I mean people who were educated together with us Russians, and had the same professors. So we have every chance for productive thinking to ensure a harmonious future of our countries, and their development benefiting all who live in Kazakhstan and Russia.
Russian and Kazakh leaders have consistently worked for those goals. However, we all have many problems. We know what has caused those problems, which are regrettably natural. They were bound to arise after the Soviet Union collapsed, and people who found themselves in newly independent states are facing those problems.
I am glad to see that the leaders of practically all Commonwealth states realise the need to preserve the positive experience stored while we all shared a country. Kazakh and Russian leaders realise it better than many. Kazakh leaders often advance initiatives that promote joint long-term progress. I will return to this somewhat later.
Yesterday, for instance, we signed a package of agreements, and today a Government member told us about the achievements of talks with RAO UES.
I met Russian nationals living in Kazakhstan this morning. They talked to me about their problems. One of them said something very true. It might be alarming, but it is true: “It isn’t a question of economics or of a military alliance. We just want to leave.”
I am not afraid to quote the man here in front of this audience with so many journalists in it because he struck the nail on the head. He agreed with what I said in reply: “You’re right. Why do you want to leave? Because ordinary people are uncomfortable with their very vague future.”
Why do they have this uncomfortable feeling? Take Ekibastuz. You know when and how a coal-mining centre was built there, and that it was designed to cater for Ural and Siberian industry in a single national economy. What has become of it? Nothing.
We used to have a united power grid. Major transmission lines crossed Kazakhstan for electric supplies from some Russian regions to others. Those lines have stood idle to this day. That’s absurd.
Russia has been negotiating with Iran and India for a new transport infrastructure. We have already agreed on the essentials. President Nursultan Nazarbayev asked me yesterday why people were leaving out Kazakhstan and showed me projects on the map that could be incorporated. All parties in the new venture would certainly gain with their use.
If we consistently work in that direction, fear will give way to a clear realisation of what awaits us in a year, two or three. Then, it will no longer be so important just where you live. Everyone will feel comfortable and reassured throughout the post-Soviet area. A Kazakh will feel as comfortable in Russia as in Kazakhstan, and the other way round. I think that is the goal we must work for.
We know Mr Nazarbayev’s dedication to the idea of establishing a Eurasian alliance. I don’t think this idea is outdated. The document we signed yesterday to set up a new economic organisation had been his idea. We talked it over in May and agreed to finish preliminary work in October. We have done it. It is a rare case that the work on an agreement went so smoothly.
Russian-Kazakh relations rest on our two nations’ friendship that started a long time ago. It took centuries for us to develop common cultural values and the principles of friendly mutual assistance. We trust each other as before and we want to step up our partnership – and this is what matters most.
Today, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan want to develop their Customs Union into a full-fledged international organisation – the Eurasian Economic Community.
I would like to say to this university audience what I think about interaction with Central Asian countries in regional and global affairs. To build up our countries’ security is among the essential goals we all share. The threats of terrorism, drug and arms trafficking, and aggressive nationalism are still looming. Even the strongest countries cannot cope with them single-handedly, but when tackled together, even the most complicated problems find a solution.
The Collective Security Treaty is very important in this context. Russia and Kazakhstan are active participants in this treaty, which is politically open and does not aim to establish a military bloc. It has been registered by the United Nations Secretariat. We are working to settle our problems by peaceful political means within that collective security system.
Building up security in Central Asia – on the southern borders of the Commonwealth – is part of our efforts for global strategic stability. Central Asia is a crucial part of the present-day world, which is characterised by extremely complicated processes. Conflicts flare up, crises brew and hotbeds of tensions emerge here and there. You know all that from news updates.
The United Nations stays an unprecedented all-purpose instrument of maintaining international peace and security. The recent Millennium Summit in New York has graphically proved it.
Russia and Kazakhstan consistently work and speak up for an enhanced role and prestige of the UN. Our coordinated efforts on the international scene are a major factor in global affairs. Further development of Russian-Kazakh relations depends not only on inter-state and other official contacts but also on the public opinion.