President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
As you saw after our meeting, these talks were not lengthy, but we had a full agenda and our discussions were as substantive as always. The great scope of our relations and cooperation and the fact that we already know the issues very well determined the nature of our talks. They were therefore very concrete and we discussed the substance of the various issues that came up.
I had an exchange of views on current matters and bilateral ties with the President of Kazakhstan, and then we were joined by Mr Lukashenko to discuss the full range of ties between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
As the President of Kazakhstan noted, we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the great Victory over Nazism this year. This is a date that our peoples all hold sacred. We look forward to seeing the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan at the celebrations in Moscow. War veterans from Kazakhstan and Belarus will join Russian veterans at the parade on Red Square on May 9.
Our three countries share close trade and investment ties. Total combined GDP of our three countries accounts for 85 percent of the CIS’ GDP. Together, we offer a big market with immense production and scientific potential.
Russia is in first place among Belarus’ and Kazakhstan’s foreign trade partners. Russia’s trade with these two countries came to nearly $60 billion last year. For their part, Belarus and Kazakhstan are together in third place in Russia’s trade balance.
We have growing investment cooperation. Russian investment in the economies of Belarus and Kazakhstan now comes to $18 billion. Belarus and Kazakhstan have invested around $10 billion in Russia. More than 7,000 joint ventures have been established and are in operation.
Industrial and technology cooperation is an important part of our three countries’ partnership. We have joint projects in the machine-building sector. We are also developing our ties in the space sector and are carrying out the roadmap for common use of the Baikonur Space Launch Centre over 2014–2016. I discussed this separately with the President of Kazakhstan today, too.
Our countries’ energy sectors have close links and we work together in hydrocarbon production, transportation and refining.
Russia is helping our friends in Kazakhstan and Belarus to develop their nuclear energy sectors. Rosatom [Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation] is building a nuclear power plant in Belarus (investment comes to $10 billion and the first unit will be launched in 2018), and is working on construction of Kazakhstan’s first nuclear power plant and carrying out joint uranium production.
We discussed the global economic situation, which remains unstable today. Low business activity, global economic stagnation and volatile raw materials markets have all had a direct impact on the CIS countries. Combined GDP growth for the CIS countries came to only 0.9 percent in 2014. This year, we forecast a decrease of around 1.4 percent.
Despite the oil price collapse, Russia had GDP growth of 0.6 percent last year, but we do face a difficult economic situation. In response, we have put together an anti-crisis programme worth 2.3 trillion rubles to support the economy and social sector. I briefed my colleagues in detail on this today.
We have decided to inject an additional trillion rubles to top up the capital of Russia’s main banks and financial institutions. We are using money from our reserve funds, including the National Welfare Fund.
Our main goal is to help the real sector of the economy, support industry and agriculture, and encourage job creation. I am sure that these measures will in time help us to get back on track to steady and quality growth.
We agreed to continue coordinating our monetary policy. I think the time has come to discuss the possibility of creating a future currency union. Working shoulder to shoulder, it is easier to respond to financial and economic threats from outside and protect our common market.
Naturally, we also looked at developing Eurasian integration, the process that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan initiated. We established the Customs Union together, developed a common economic space and removed most customs and administrative barriers. The Eurasian Economic Union began work on January 1, 2015. Armenia has become a full-fledged member now and Kyrgyzstan has signed an accession treaty.
The common Eurasian market offers guaranteed freedom of movement for goods, services and capital. Member countries’ citizens can work in each other’s countries without having to get any additional permits. We have simplified migration procedures, registration rules and rules for tax payments. We have mutual recognition of diplomas and ensure equal access to healthcare.
We discussed the steps we must take to continue developing our integration ties and building up the Eurasian Economic Union’s legal base. This year, we plan to adopt more than 100 important documents, including the new Customs Code, the concepts for establishing common markets for electricity, gas, oil and petroleum products, and international agreements regulating cooperation in the currency, financial and socioeconomic sectors.
As Mr Nazarbayev mentioned, we also discussed the situation in Ukraine. I want to note Mr Nazarbayev’s and Mr Lukashenko’s active participation and help in settling this issue.
The Minsk agreements of February 12 offer a real chance for gradual de-escalation of this armed conflict. We hope very much that the authorities in Kiev will implement the Minsk agreements in full.
We also examined other matters on the regional agenda. Kazakhstan holds the CIS presidency this year. Russia and Belarus will offer our Kazakhstani friends every possible assistance during Kazakhstan’s presidency.
In conclusion, I want to thank the President of Kazakhstan for the invitation and for giving us the opportunity to discuss all of the issues of mutual interest today.
Thank you for your attention.