Kazakhstan-Russia: from economy to environment
Sep 15. The Voice of Russia
By Andreeva Svetlana
The cooperation of Russian and Kazakh emergency and environmental agencies has become the key topic at the 8th forum of the interregional cooperation held in the city of Astrakhan of Russia’s Volga region. Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultyan Nazarbayev stressed that alongside international cooperation bilateral relations are very important in these fields. “Now 76 regions of Russia have permanent trade and economic contacts with Kazakhstan. In general interregional contacts account for 70% of the Russian trade”, Medvedev said.
Since the first meeting in the city of Omsk 2003, Russia and Kazakhstan have regularly hosted forums of bilateral cooperation. Last year, at the forum in the Kazakh city of Ust-Kamenogorsk the key topic was hi-tech sector development. At the current forum the partners are looking for efficient ways to fight emergency situations. Last year forest fires proved that such situations have no boundaries. Russia and Kazakhstan already have some joint experience in fighting fires in the Altai in Russia’s South Siberia. It is quite logical that a bilateral agreement on prevention and fighting forest and steppe fires has become the first inter-governmental document signed at the current forum. Medvedev also stressed that Russia and Kazakhstan are both responsible for protection of the eco-system of the Caspian Sea basin.
“This is one of the oldest oil production region in the world, which seriously increases the load on the local eco system. We all remember the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and we are simply obliged to take proper measures to prevent similar scenarios on the Caspian Sea. The best cure here is stronger coordination between emergency ministries and natural resources ministries of the two countries. Other environmental tasks, which require participation of both countries is the project on protection of the Ural River eco-system.”
Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarabayev also expressed his concern with the state of this river.
“One of the important challenges is the rational use and protection of transboundary water resources. We should not consider water as a commodity that is why we want to find a mutually acceptable decision. Now we are facing the problem of shallowing of the Ural River. Annual water deficit has increased threefold. According to experts, the river may get dry on its way to the Caspian Sea. We talked about joint measures during our last meeting in particular about the creation of a joint fund to save the river but it has not been established yet. The lack of single complex program and attempts to tackle the problem locally give no result.”
Besides environmental problems the leaders touched upon cooperation in energy sector which traditionally plays an important role in the bilateral relations. Energy cooperation covers almost all branches – nuclear, oil and gas, coal industry, electricity production and supply.
Europe-West China international corridor is a joint transportation project of Russia, Kazakhstan and China. A 8,500 km long motor road will stretch from St. Petersburg across Russia and Kazakhstan to China helping to reduce time of cargo transportation from Asia to Europe to 10 days. Today cargos worth $700 billion are being transported by water from Asia to Europe which takes 40-45 days. The project’s preliminary cost is almost 4 billion euros. Russia, China and Kazakhstan finance 50% of the construction while 50% are financed from the loans of international banks.
At the forum in Astrakhan the parties also signed the program on scientific cooperation for 2012-2015 which in particular envisages projects in nuclear research and hi-tech projects. This scientific cooperation will undoubtedly define the future of our countries, Medvedev stressed.