Vladimir Putin: Respected Nursultan Abishevich,
Above all, I would like to thank the President for his invitation. I think that it is no coincidence that my colleagues and I are starting the working year of 2004 with a visit to Kazakhstan. The President and I have just discussed key issues of bilateral collaboration, including military co-operation as part of political interaction, and in international affairs. We also spoke about the development of the Collective Security Treaty, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, the common economic space and virtually the entire agenda of inter-state relations.
The Year of Kazakhstan in Russia undoubtedly helped to a certain extent increase the trade turnover and the speed at which the two countries are becoming closer. Nursultan Abishevich has just mentioned this. More than 150 events were held in Russia with our Kazakh friends, and I would like to thank everyone, starting from the President of Kazakhstan, the Government and the Ministry of Culture, for contributing to this. This was great, serious work, which gave a new impulse to inter-state ties in all areas. This had a positive effect for more than just the cultural sphere.
Kazakhstan is one of the Russian Federation’s main trade partners. Indeed, according to estimates, we reached not only just over five, but already about 5.5 billion dollars in 2003. Of course, this is not the limit for what we can do together.
We also discussed how to develop further our interaction in the space and military-technical spheres, and set out measures to expand mutually advantageous co-operation in the fuel and energy sphere.
I believe that it would be important for the next session of the Russo-Kazakh inter-governmental commission on co-operation to analyse in detail how measures are being implemented as part of the bilateral economic co-operation programme for 1998 to 2007 and to reach mutually acceptable decisions on those problems that have to be dealt with.
With regard to other issues of Russo-Kazakh co-operation, I would like to point to the following: one effective instrument to bolster economic relations between our countries could be the establishment of an investment bank. The President of Kazakhstan made this proposal and the implementation of this idea found its reflection at a session of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth in September 2003 in Yalta.
Russia and Kazakhstan could, indeed, play a significant role in forming multilateral financial institutes, and now our experts have come to the conclusion that this could be done on the basis of the CIS Inter-State Bank with the active participation of Russian and Kazakh capital. This would give it a new impulse, a real life. In essence, this proposal is the continuation of the idea put forward by the President of Kazakhstan. The instrument is there, it only has to be filled with real content. In this sense, this means the financial resources of Russia and Kazakhstan, above all. I repeat, specialists, as far as I remember, have agreed on the scale of Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s participation in this bank. The co-chairmen of the Russian-Kazakh inter-governmental commission have agreed that final proposals on this issue will be prepared by the parties for the next session. I think that they should conclude this work in the near future. There are all the conditions for this. At any rate, I would like to tell you, Nursultan Abishevich, that a principled decision has been taken on this in Russia.
We also see border co-operation with Kazakhstan as a priority. The main task is to create the best conditions possible for the development of integration processes between our states. To this end, it is essential that the potential of sub-commissions on border co-operation be used. This is particularly true with regard to drawing up proposals for the establishment of joint plants and the simplification of procedures for interaction between economic subjects. I would suggest that the lack of agreement over the taxation and customs systems in Russia and Kazakhstan remain a serious obstacle here. This largely inhibits the future growth of our reciprocal trade turnover. We shall also focus on the activity of the transport infrastructure and everything that is connected with it. These issues were raised by the President of Kazakhstan during our talks. We shall certainly discuss these problems in isolation. In addition, we shall also discuss the issue you raised that is linked with new Russian legislation in the sphere of migration and Russian citizenship. We have inter-state agreements for this purpose. We shall analyse the entire scope of legislation in this sphere and I am confident that we shall come to acceptable decisions.
I know that you, in my opinion, are planning to visit the People’s Republic of China in the first half of this year. I would like to point to our common interest in developing co-operation as part of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. We have outlined our plans for joint action, including in the sphere of the fight against terrorism and have set out timetable for joint work in this area. There is another aspect that is of an economic and environmental nature: the problem of the rational use of the water resources of Irtysh. I think that we could discuss this subject at a later date, but, in my view, this could become a good example of trilateral co-operation between Russia, Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China. We are all interested in preserving these water resources and using them rationally.
With regard to transport corridors, I hope that our specialists will reach conclusions on this issue in the near future, as will those experts who are finishing work on the border question. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set the task to complete this work by the end of 2004, and I hope that this will be done. For our part, we shall be keeping this under control.