Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum 2019-11-07 17:40:00 Omsk Vladimir Putin and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the 16th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum. The Forum is a venue for discussing promising areas of cooperation between the regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, promoting bilateral relations, diversifying business contacts, as well as for communication between the authorities and business representatives of the two countries. Of 85 Russian regions, 76 are developing cooperation with Kazakhstan’s regions on a contractual basis, with over 400 agreements signed in different areas of the economy. This year the theme of the Forum is Hot Topics on the Development of Cross-Border Cooperation. The heads of ministries and agencies, regional governors and entrepreneurs from both countries have been invited to attend the forum. An exchange of documents signed during the forum took place in the presence of the two heads of state. In particular, a Concept for the Russia-Kazakhstan Cross-Border Cooperation Programme, agreements on cooperation in culture and youth policy between the relevant departments of the two states, as well as a joint action programme for border crossing points on the Russia-Kazakhstan state border were signed along with a number of bilateral documents on cooperation between the two countries’ regions. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, friends, I am pleased to welcome the participants of the Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum to Omsk. The President of Kazakhstan and I just thought that it was symbolic that the first such forum was held in this city in 2003. This is the 16th meeting of Russian and Kazakhstani regions. More than 1,600 representatives from 24 Russian regions and 10 Kazakhstani regions have come to Omsk, including governors, federal ministers, members of parliament and CEOs of major companies, as well as experts and researchers. Russia-Kazakhstan regional forums always bring good practical results. This time, a large package of interdepartmental and interregional agreements and commercial contracts will be signed as well. I am convinced that this forum will not only help improve ties between our regions, but will further strengthen the comprehensive Russian-Kazakhstani strategic partnership in general. By the way, bilateral cooperation was also discussed during separate talks with the President of Kazakhstan, which took place before our meeting. We regularly meet and discuss this. Russia and Kazakhstan cooperate closely in all key areas, including trade and investment. Last year, trade grew by 4.5 percent to $18.2 billion, with about 70 percent of this amount in interregional trade. Seventy-six of 85 Russian regions have mutually beneficial relations with all regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Russia is the largest investor in Kazakhstan’s economy. Accumulated Russian investment in Kazakhstan amounts to $13 billion, and Kazakhstan in Russia almost $4 billion. Over 6,500 joint ventures have been created and operate in different regions of our countries. New interregional projects in trade and investment were also discussed at a meeting of the Russia-Kazakhstan Business Council timed to the forum. I believe Mr Tokayev will agree with me that we have always supported and will continue to support such promising joint projects. Entrepreneurs in both countries can rely on continuous support from Russian and Kazakhstani ministries and agencies. Regions in Russia and Kazakhstan are actively developing humanitarian contact as well as ties in education and personnel training. About 74,000 citizens of Kazakhstan study at Russian universities, including more than 30,000 that receive grants from the Russian budget. Most of them earn top qualifications in regional universities in the Volga Region, Siberia and the Urals. In addition, a branch of Chelyabinsk State University has been operating successfully in Kostanay for some time. Russian specialists continue helping their Kazakhstani partners train Russian language teachers. Currently, we are exploring the possibility of opening Russian-Kazakhstani schools and a university in Kazakhstan. I must certainly mention youth policy and the upbringing of the younger generation. The first forum of youth leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan will promote bilateral cooperation in these areas. We know about the efforts of our young leaders to make these meetings regular. Colleagues, A tangible contribution to Russia-Kazakhstan strategic partnership is made by close, friendly and neighbourly ties between numerous regions, towns and villages located along the border of our countries, a border that is over 7,500 kilometres long. This is why cross-border cooperation occupies a central place at this forum. A concept of the programme for bilateral cross-border cooperation was drafted for the forum and will be adopted today. It is important for the regional authorities in our countries and the federal agencies to actively join the effort to fill this programme with specific projects, ideas and initiatives. I think particular focus should be on improving border infrastructure and expanding Russia-Kazakhstan border crossing capacity. This is what the Joint Action Programme on the Russia-Kazakhstan State Border Crossing Points to be signed during the forum is designed to achieve. Russia is interested in increasing industrial cooperation in border areas and creating joint ventures. Positive examples of this interaction include building an oil refinery in the Orenburg Region, which will use crude oil from Kazakhstan’s Karachaganak field, and developing the cross-border Vesenne-Aralchinsky copper ore deposit. Our regions could do more together to protect the environment and to preserve the ecosystem of transboundary rivers, such as the Ural River, the Irtysh River and other large rivers. Speaking at a restricted meeting today, the President of Kazakhstan raised these issues, and I completely agree with him. This is in our common interest. It is necessary to develop tourism programmes, such as the Altai Golden Ring project, where new tourist routes and tours are being created that combine medical treatment and recreation, and tours to historical, cultural and natural sites. Colleagues, Major issues of Russia-Kazakhstan cross-border cooperation and interregional cooperation in general were discussed in detail during our forum. As I understand, the speakers are summing up the discussions and projects. I am pleased to give the floor to the President of Kazakhstan and hope that the speakers who take the floor after us will add to what we said. Thank you. <…> Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, I also believe that work conducted during the Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum deserves praise. And I agree with my colleague that the agenda was packed and modern. There were many meetings, contacts and events, and all of them were quite meaningful and up to the mark. Many topical matters of expanding collaboration between Russian and Kazakhstani regions were reviewed in great detail. It is significant that special attention was paid to expanding cross-border cooperation, which is a significant element of Russian-Kazakhstani strategic partnership. I am confident that the current forum will help consolidate it. It goes without saying that the participants’ ideas and proposals regarding more active trade and investment ties, as well as those in the area of industrial cooperation, transport, education, youth exchanges and, of course, information policy which is an extremely important sphere, will remain in high demand. I would like to thank the President of Kazakhstan, all Kazakhstani colleagues, representatives of Russian regions and our agencies for the efficient and fruitful joint work and to wish them every success in the future. Next year, at the proposal of the President of Kazakhstan we will hold this meeting in Kazakhstan. Certainly, we agree with this, we are grateful to you for this proposal and for the event’s main theme that you have suggested. I agree completely that this is a highly important aspect of our joint work. Thank you very much.