Vladimir Putin: I think that our meeting today has without any doubt contributed to the integration of the [Customs] Union. You know that after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics our independent states quickly became rather far removed from each other in terms of their rates of economic growth, paths of development and so on. This happened very quickly without our even realising it.
Today we face the challenge of harmonising legislation and creating a common customs space. Our progress in that respect is obvious. It is evident and noticeable and it gives a new impetus to the legislative and executive bodies in all our countries.
Moreover, a new agreement has been reached in principle, as the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council told you, expressing the wish of all those present to give our Union a new role, and to make it an international economic organisation with international legal status. And I would like you to note that it is improving. There has obviously been progress. And there has been progress on all related things, and this will have serious practical consequences for companies and businesses in all of our countries.
As for our bilateral contacts, we have met one-on-one with the presidents of Kazakhstan and Belarus, and we have of course discussed bilateral relations. We just exchanged information on the situations in our countries. Russia is not indifferent to how things are going in one of our closest allies, Belarus, and indeed you know that we are implementing a treaty on the creation of a Union State. We have a series of summit meetings lined up. I confirmed my invitation to the Belarusian President to visit Russia, Moscow. We have agreed that the visit will take place soon and if Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] agrees, we could schedule a meeting to fit into his timetable, for the end of June, for example. That would fit into my schedule. We also discussed economic issues.
Our discussions with the President of Kazakhstan covered roughly the same ground. We exchanged views on some problems of state development. That’s how I would sum up the range of problems. I was very interested to know how Kazakhstan was dealing with some of the problems of this kind. Nursultan Abishovich [Nazarbayev] was kind enough to tell me about it in more detail. I found it interesting and useful. For my part, I briefed him on what is happening in the Russian Federation, in particular the recent decision to create Federal Districts, the proposed changes in the way the Federation Council is formed and some other issues which, as you know, are treated in the draft laws introduced at the State Duma. All this cannot but be of interest to our closest allies, both in connection with the work of the Customs Union and in the context of bilateral relations. This is approximately the range of issues we discussed.
Please forgive me, I forgot to tell you something that I should have told you. We have also agreed with the President of Kazakhstan, and he has accepted our invitation to come to Moscow on an official visit in the middle of June, probably on the 19th to the 20th.