Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum 2017-11-09 18:40:00 Chelyabinsk Vladimir Putin took part in the 14th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum. The theme of the forum was “Development of Human Capital.” Participants included heads of key ministries and departments, heads of a number of Russia’s constituent entities and Kazakhstan’s regions, and representatives from large businesses from both countries. At the end of the forum, a number of interstate, intergovernmental, interregional and commercial documents were signed in the presence of both presidents. In addition, Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a Joint Statement marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan (established on October 22, 1992). The presidents also signed an additional protocol to the Protocol to the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Delimitation of the Seabed of the Northern Part of the Caspian Sea for the Purposes of Exercising Their Sovereign Rights to the Exploitation of its Subsoil of July 6, 1998. * * * Speech at the plenary session of the 14th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Nazarbayev, colleagues, welcome to the 14th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum. Russia and Kazakhstan are strategic partners and allies. Our states base their relations on friendship, neighbourliness, equality and mutual respect. I am convinced that adherence to these principles will allow us to further promote cooperation across all areas. Actually, this is reflected in the joint statement on the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries, which Mr Nazarbayev and I will sign today. Before the forum opened, the President of Kazakhstan and I had a very detailed conversation. We discussed the key aspects of bilateral cooperation and outlined steps to further enhance Russia-Kazakhstan cooperation across all areas. I would like to reiterate what I said earlier at a meeting with fewer participants and to thank Mr Nazarbayev for his great contribution to hosting international meetings on Syria in Astana. The opportunity for an early resolution of the Syria crisis, and the achievement by the Syrians themselves of the agreements to launch the political settlement process became possible largely thanks to the Astana talks. Of course, we spoke about the main theme of this interregional forum, which is the development of human capital, and investments in improving the level and quality of life, primarily, investments in education and healthcare. We agreed to instruct the governments of our countries to continue close coordination in order to develop human capital and to actively involve the regions of Russia and Kazakhstan in this work. We noted that interregional cooperation is developing very successfully and covers a wide range of issues pertaining to socioeconomic policy and the cultural sphere. Contacts between regions of the two countries have become very intensive. For instance, this year over 20 delegations from Russian regions visited Kazakhstan. Such visits produce specific agreements aimed at expanding diverse interregional cooperation. I would like to mention that Russian and Kazakh regions are already carrying out 400 cooperation agreements. At this forum, participants will also sign a solid package of interregional documents between Bashkortostan, the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and Omsk regions of Russia and the Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan, West Kazakhstan and Kostanay regions of Kazakhstan. A comprehensive programme of Russian-Kazakh interregional cooperation for 2018–2023 has been prepared for the forum. This document is aimed at even more active involvement of regions into bilateral cooperation. Priority attention will be given to trade, economic and investment cooperation. I would like to emphasise that mutual trade has grown since the start of this year largely owing to business initiatives of Russian and Kazakh regions. In January-August, reciprocal deliveries of goods and services reached $11 billion, which is one-third more than in the relevant period of the past year. Accumulated Russian investment in Kazakhstan has exceeded $10.8 billion, and Kazakh investment in Russia is over $3 billion. It is important not to stop at that result. Therefore, we have instructed our governments and the bilateral intergovernmental commission to take additional measures to remove barriers to the movement of goods, capital and workforce. The digital economy is a new important area. Russia is paying much attention to introducing digital technology in all areas of life. I know that the Kazakh leaders are making serious efforts to expand the use of information technology in government management, finance, education and medicine. Russia and Kazakhstan regularly discuss these issues both at bilateral meetings and in the Eurasian Economic Union. The regional authorities are also quite involved in the use of digital technology. I hope that this forum will bring results and help establish interregional cooperation to introduce electronic services and products into municipal administration, modernisation of housing and utilities services, healthcare and environmental protection. Of course, education is special when it comes to developing human capital. In this regard, we agreed to expand ties between regional higher education institutions, in particular, the Chelyabinsk, South Ural, Altai and other Ural and Siberian universities. A meeting of university rectors of our two countries was held concurrently with this forum in Chelyabinsk with the participation of over 80 universities. Joint regional research centres should be established at regional universities. Such, for example, as an international research laboratory for applied biotechnology, which employs staff and students of the Belgorod Research University and the al-Farabi Kazakh National University. Other positive examples of regional inter-university cooperation include the joint project by the Ural Federal University and its partners from Kazakhstan. This is an innovative technology to reduce energy consumption during production. Its wide introduction will help not only save energy resources, but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is especially important for certain regions of Kazakhstan and Russia. By the way, this also applies to Chelyabinsk, where we are today. In addition to university-to-university cooperation, it is imperative to promote interregional cooperation in the sphere of vocational education institutions. In this context, Kazan will host the world championship of vocational skills next year. We invite people from Kazakhstan's regions to take part in it. In closing, I would like to wish you success in developing interregional cooperation in various fields. I am confident that this forum will contribute to strengthening cooperation between our states. Thank you for the joint work and for your time. <…> Vladimir Putin: Mr Nazarbayev, friends. I share the opinion of the President of Kazakhstan about the forum. The agenda was busy and the plenary session and other meetings and events were substantive and held at a high level. As we have already mentioned, the forum focused on the development of human capital and the use of information and digital technology in the economy, public administration and other areas. We discussed the status and prospects for bilateral interregional cooperation in the most diverse areas. We reviewed what we should do in the future to improve our cooperation in trade, investment, industry, science and education. I also agree with what Mr Nazarbayev said about potential implementation of a major joint project on building a railway from the People’s Republic of China via Kazakhstan and Russia and further to Europe. This could be a very good impetus for developing whole industries, not to mention that in terms of logistics, this is movement in the right direction that would increase our transit status. This would encourage the development of many industries since the project could be really outstanding. In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Nazarbayev and all our Kazakh friends for fruitful joint efforts. As the President of Kazakhstan proposed, next year we will meet in Kazakhstan. The suggested theme [“New approaches and trends in tourism development in Russia and Kazakhstan”] is very interesting and useful for the economy and the development of human relations. Thank you all.