President Vladimir Putin:
First of all, I would like to thank the President of Kazakhstan and all our Kazakh colleagues for their very warm and hospitable welcome.
Yesterday, the peoples of Kazakhstan and Russia, along with people in many other countries, celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the great victory in the Second World War. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate all war veterans and all the people of Kazakhstan on this important occasion.
Today, Nursultan Abishevich [Nazarbayev] and I examined our bilateral cooperation in all its different aspects. We set the priorities for our work together to consolidate the strategic partnership between Russia and Kazakhstan and give it substance in the form of concrete projects and action. The key issues we discussed include developing our economic ties, space exploration and new forms of military-technical cooperation.
We paid particular attention to the fuel and energy sector and nuclear energy. I note that we also signed today agreements on establishing the International Uranium Enrichment Centre and on opening trade representation offices. Today we adopted a bilateral cooperation action plan for 2007–2008, which sets out a whole package of priority measures for building on our bilateral cooperation and creates a good foundation for comprehensive development of the integration processes we are pursuing.
A whole number of important documents are ready now for signature. They include, in particular, agreements on joint use of the Baikonur space launch centre, on improving the transport and energy infrastructure, and on simplifying border crossing procedures at the Russian-Kazakh border.
Work is continuing on drawing up the international-legal basis for our multilateral agreements on the Caspian Sea. We have also agreed to intensify our work on environmental issues, which have become particularly important of late, and will sign relevant agreements in this area at the earliest date.
Question: What can you add about the agreements concluded in the fuel and energy sector? You are no doubt aware that your meeting today, and the talks scheduled to take place in Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi, are drawing a lot of attention from around the world.
Vladimir Putin: It is natural enough that our talks in this area should attract heightened attention. This is understandable given that both Kazakhstan and Russia are prominent and significant players on the world energy markets. There are many dimensions to our energy-sector cooperation with Kazakhstan. It is not limited to the oil and gas sectors, though this is, of course, an important component of our energy cooperation.
We have just been informed that Gazprom and the according organisations in Kazakhstan have reached an agreement on future joint work. This is very good news and we hope to see another agreement signed in the next few hours.
We also cooperate in the electricity sector and we are continuing to work on the matter of joint electricity markets.
Regarding our cooperation in the oil sector, the President of Kazakhstan raised the question today of increasing the possibilities of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium. We are reflecting on this matter and consider it possible, all the more so as we have already agreed on the construction of a new pipeline system, the Burgas-Alexandropoulis pipeline. A considerable share of the oil that will flow through this new pipeline could come from Kazakhstan.
We discussed nuclear energy and today, as you know, we signed an important agreement in this area (which I just mentioned). But our plans for the nuclear energy sector do not stop here. This sector, which is of vital importance to both Kazakhstan and Russia, offers very promising and important opportunities for work together and I know for a fact that our specialists will be meeting over these coming days to hold serious and active consultations on expanding our cooperation in this area. These talks will cover the construction of new nuclear power plants and joining forces to work on third-country markets. This is an area of cooperation with excellent prospects.
Regarding our possible trilateral agreements in Turkmenistan, I ask you please to be patient. We first need to hold the necessary consultations with our friends and colleagues in Turkmenistan. I am very hopeful that we will reach serious agreements, and when this takes place, we will let you know.
Question: You said that the space sector was one of the key cooperation issues discussed today. I am interested to know about the situation with unresolved social issues in the town of Baikonur. Did you discuss this matter today?
Baikonur’s future has been settled overall through to 2050, and the relevant agreements have been signed. I think it is clear to everyone that Baikonur is an immensely important treasure that Kazakhstan inherited when the Soviet Union’s assets were divided up. We are watching Kazakhstan’s economic growth closely and with satisfaction, and I want to congratulate all the people of Kazakhstan, and above all the President, on the country’s economic achievements, but even as wealthy a country as Kazakhstan is not in a position to erect such a centre as Baikonur. In order not to lose this precious asset, we have to use it together, of course. All specialists understand this. As for social issues, I think that we will be able to resolve all problems through our consultations.