Vladimir Putin : Dear Nursultan Abishevich! Dear Colleagues!
I am pleased to see that our visit to Kazakhstan is taking place during an anniversary year for our countries. In October we will celebrate a landmark date: the fifteenth anniversary of establishing our diplomatic relations. Since then we have significantly improved our strategic partnership, established close and genuinely allied relations in nearly all essential areas of cooperation.
Trade and economic relations are our priority now. Our volume of trade is constantly increasing. Last year it represented a significant amount: 13 billion USD. Our trade grew by almost 40 percent in the first few months of 2007. These high growth rates were, in many respects, due to active interregional and border cooperation.
Overall, we are pleased with the development of our joint work in the fuel and energy sector. Leading Russian companies such as Gazprom and Lukoil have already been working in Kazakhstan for a long time. We should accelerate the process of preparing a long-term fifteen-year agreement in order to successfully launch a joint venture involving the Orenburg gas processing plant. And we also talked about this with Nursultan Abishevich today. There are technological problems that we must resolve but I have every reason to believe that there are no insurmountable obstacles — everything can be resolved. I hope that our work will enable us to make additional steps forward.
Our agreements on cooperation in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes are consistently being implemented. Today we plan to sign an intergovernmental agreement on establishing an International Uranium Enrichment Centre. We consider that this document represents the first step towards implementing our initiatives to establish global infrastructure for nuclear power. This is an important issue and today we paid quite a bit of attention to it. This is a very promising area of cooperation and I am confident that it will benefit both Kazakhstan’s and the Russian Federation’s economy.
Another important project in this field consists in creating a joint venture to develop innovative projects involving energy units with small- and medium-sized nuclear reactors. This project can be implemented on the site of an atomic energy combine in Kazakhstan. We are ready to participate in constructing nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan. I am sure that our experts will be discussing this project today. It is important to continue work on a programme to establish a common market for electricity in Russia and Kazakhstan so that we can begin implementing it in the near future. To this end we need to accelerate negotiations on the corresponding action plan.
Cooperation in the banking sector is increasing. Quite soon from now, 15 June 2007, the Eurasian Development Bank that was established at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan will start functioning. The bank’s first projects — financing uranium and chromite extraction in Kazakhstan as well as the programme for the technological modernisation of the Ekibastuzskaia GES-2 power plant — have begun. All of this represents positive tendencies but we expect even better results from the bank in the future. I hope that these are just the first steps. Of course, it will be hard for the bank to realise alone the ambitious integration plans we have set before it, especially since it must take action in a difficult competitive environment. The bank will obviously need strong support from its founders — from Russia and from Kazakhstan.
In addition, we are witnessing active cooperation on a bilateral level between Vnesheconombank and the Development Bank of Kazakhstan and within the inter-bank association of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Promising projects include the development of the wood processing sector. We intend to further support cooperation between the governmental development institutes of Russia and Kazakhstan. In reference to this I would like to point out that since the transformation [of Vnesheconombank] into the Russian Development Bank, such cooperation benefits from more possibilities.
Cooperation in the aluminum sector has very good prospects. The merged company Russian Aluminum is the world leader in this field (or at least until the hostile takeover that an American company planned for its Canadian competitors) and is working on a major infrastructure project involving assets in Kazakhstan. We are counting on your support, my dear colleagues and dear Mr President, as we realize these projects.
We need to expand our joint work designed to improve cooperation in transportation. We paid quite a bit of attention to this issue today. This involves tariffs that apply to transporting goods, sorting out the property relations between the railways of Kazakhstan and Russia, and developing all Eurasian transport corridors.