President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
Time flies. It seems we met only recently in Orenburg, and now – and this is the seventh time this Forum is convened – we are meeting in Kazakhstan. The forum’s central theme today is interaction in the sphere of high technology and sustainable development. That theme also determined the venue for the Forum: the Serikbayev East Kazakhstan State Technical University and the Altai technology park, where we are present. What we have seen here is highly impressive for various reasons. I will come back to this subject in a little while.
But before I get to the main part of my address, I would like to express special gratitude to the President of Kazakhstan and our other friends in Kazakhstan for their help in putting out wildfires. The natural disaster that befell Russia this year has demonstrated once again our friends’ solidarity and fraternal assistance. We saw it even now, when we toured the exhibition and looked at the stands, which concluded with the assistance our Kazakh partners are providing to our schoolchildren. This is a special gesture and we highly value it. Once again, thank you.
Now to the main theme of our meeting. Our competitiveness depends on the growth of innovation. Both Russia and Kazakhstan are powerful countries with a tremendous resource potential, but that is not enough for us to be prosperous states because the development, supply and even processing of raw materials is not the way that can ensure sustainable development and competitiveness of our economies.
We have the prerequisites for innovation cooperation, including developed horizontal ties. I would like to remind you that we have more than 3,000 joint ventures, and a considerable part of them, about 400, operate in the border area. Kazakhstan is the leading trade partner for many Russian regions, such as Orenburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and others.
Mr Nazarbayev and I have just toured the exhibition together and both of us noted with satisfaction that there are real examples of mutual cooperation: they don’t exist on paper alone but really operate. And, of course, our task, the task of everyone present here, is to ensure that the number of such examples increases. In fact, that is why we have gathered here. I hope that the agreements that have been signed on the sidelines of the Forum are aimed at practical cooperation.
Economic modernisation is an urgent task for both Russia and Kazakhstan. We have formulated our priorities on the basis of mutual understanding and shared approaches. Therefore, we will continue to address this further. Russia and Kazakhstan share many years of experience that can be used to realise our substantial potential in our efforts either to revive or to launch consolidated technological chains.
We have already applied this shared experience to a number of promising projects in the nuclear industry, space exploration and nanotechnology. Importantly, the regions can play a considerable role in some of those projects.
Of course, we should not ignore energy cooperation, but in addition to traditional energy I would like to express my total agreement with what Mr Nazarbayev has just said about alternative energy sources and energy efficiency. Even when we are creating new capacities and building new facilities, it is our duty to look ahead and to apply the best of our research. Here I mean the construction of the third unit of Ekibastuz GRES-2 power station and the development of several [coal] deposits. As I understand it, the agreements on these projects, including the new ones, were also signed on the sidelines of the Forum.
Clearly, it is impossible to expand economic ties without improving transportation systems. We are currently working on the Western Europe — Western China international route, which includes a motorway running through many of our regions. A number of final decisions, both economic and political, must be taken in order to move this project forward. We talked about this last year as well.
I will also remind you that the technical and economic feasibility study is being done for the project to build a new navigable channel between the Caspian Sea and the Azov Sea/Black Sea basin. We have agreed to revisit a number of issues in the near future, including the end feasibility of this major initiative.
The migration policy, including economic migration, is an integral part of our international cooperation. We are putting together a respective regulatory framework and it is vital to complete it. This also applies to the legal status of the representative office of the Federal Migration Service. We must sign the readmission agreement and ultimately formulate a uniform approach to the stay of citizens of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan within the Customs Union territory. We have agreed to accelerate the work on drafting the agreement, which has currently been handed over.
Of course, our cooperation is not limited to the economy but covers a variety of areas and involves the academic and business communities, as well as youth and public organisations. This meeting is taking place at a university, where this issue is especially relevant as educational programmes are being implemented on both sides of the border. It is gratifying that they have become more active and we have an increasing number of students who study at such universities. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen these ties.
Mr Nazarbayev has just described a number of initiatives, and I would like to comment on them. First, regarding the creation of a modern protection for various ecological systems from man-made disasters. I absolutely agree with that. I would also like to draw the attention of all those present to an initiative that was launched by the Russian Federation in the framework of the Group of Eight and Group of Twenty. In fact, that initiative was our response to the accident in the Gulf of Mexico. We should understand the degree to which our facilities are prepared to withstand such problems. This is obvious because it is our shared heritage. I believe, therefore, that a joint initiative in this area would be very useful indeed. I would like our Kazakhstani friends to look at the project we have been discussing with the most developed nations. Maybe it could be extended to the zone of our joint responsibility, including the Caspian Sea, the basins of transborder rivers and some other areas that require special attention.
I also agree with what has been said regarding the water and water protection issues. We are to develop joint approaches. This is especially important in Central Asia, which has a shortage of water. Some regions of Russia also have this problem which became especially clear this year, when a number of our southern areas, especially in the Volga Federal District, were affected by the drought. Unfortunately, the system of land reclamation, which was built during the Soviet period, fell apart and we will need to rebuild it now. In this regard, we also have a great deal to talk about and to implement together with our Kazakh friends. We are therefore open to discussion on various ideas, including some old plans that at some point were swept under the carpet.
Energy efficiency is among the top five priorities for technological modernisation of Russia’s economy, which were formulated last year on my instructions. We are ready to synchronise our approaches, to create a system of incentives, including technical regulation issues. That is a crucial area, and I have held a number of meetings devoted exclusively to this subject. As a result, we have amended our legislation and have taken an unprecedented step: we have sanctioned the application of EU technology framework and technical regulations in the Russian Federation. That is, we have consented to the use of these standards as our legislation and the direct incorporation of this legislation on the Russian territory. I think this is something our Kazakhstani friends could also think about because that is the fastest growing system today. Of course, we can make our own adjustments to it, that is our right, but on the whole we expect it to boost our contacts with the EU countries. We can also think about developing joint projects in the field of technical regulation. In any case, we will have to do this within our common economic space and within the framework of our current efforts.
What you said about transportation and housing and utilities is absolutely relevant. We are ready to work in this area.
With respect to the control mechanism, I cannot disagree with you that, unfortunately, there are certain typically bureaucratic problems. After our meetings, either here, or in the Russian Federation, some projects simply do not move forward, and there is a feeling that our efforts stall between the forums. That is not right. The work must go on continuously. To elaborate on your idea, I would like to propose the following: let us issue instructions to our Governments and the Presidential Executive Offices to consider establishing a permanent monitoring mechanism with authorised persons who, for example, could report to us on a monthly basis on the progress made, what requires additional efforts and which buttons need to be pressed to make sure that the projects we discuss at the annual forum are implemented rather than shelved. In this regard, I believe the creation of a modern control mechanism would be extremely useful indeed.
Mr President, I would like to express my appreciation once again for your hospitality and for creating perfect conditions for us. You have even brought back good weather, it’s not too hot, just right to work comfortably. Thank you very much. I am confident that the seventh Forum of Interregional Cooperation of Russia and Kazakhstan will bear tangible results. Thank you.