Astana – Minsk: shared history, shared future. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has paid an official visit to Belarus

May 15. Kazpravda

By Vladimir Kuryatov

Astana - Minsk: shared history, shared future. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has paid an official visit to BelarusThe dynamics of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Belarus is sustainable, conductive to which are the integration initiatives – establishment of the Customs Union and Single Economic Space and the contracts signed previously and yesterday during the visit. It was agreed in the talks yesterday to boost cooperation in agriculture and food supplies.

Rise in turnover

Our nations share a common history and, last but not least, a common future. The Customs Union and single economic space and the would-be Eurasian Union of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia form a continental model based on economic pragmatism. Integration therefore was top on the list during the meeting. Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Alexander Lukashenko mulled the aspects of bilateral relations’ further development and interaction in a multilateral format.

At the meeting Nursultan Nazarbayev called the friendly republic a key political and economic partner to Kazakhstan, a close friend and ally, and the integration process makes our two countries closer. Kazakhstan is in the “troika” of the largest trade partners to Belarus, and the current visit will lift the relations onto a new plane. To a large extent it concerns trade, the last-year volume in which approached $ 1 billion and in the long term is expected to increase even more. Its doubling is targeted.

To all appearances this task is feasible. As the President of Kazakhstan noted, as of January- March alone, the trade turnover went nearly 70% up YOY.

The Customs Union and Common Economic Space open up new opportunities for economic partnership, the Presidents stated.

– We have absolutely identical view on the single economic space, said the President of Belarus, believing that N.Nazarbayev’s idea offered two decades ago, will be fully materialized, meaning the Eurasian project.

– If Kazakhstan had been as near to us geographically as Ukraine, I am confident that trade would be much larger – Alexander Lukashenko added. – And Belarus would benefit by the proximity of a neighbor rich in natural resources. It is what Belarus is short of.

The two countries have practically no competitive industries. Kazakhstan needs all what Belarus produces, and what Kazakhstan makes is consumed in Belarus.

Apart from economic interests, there are other points of contact in which we are akin- the great trial that befell our people in 1941-1945. Just a few days ago, the 67th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War was celebrated in the two republics. On this occasion Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated all the Byelorussians on it, making a special mention of their heroism in the war.

– Despite the occupation, 60 percent of Belarusian territory was held by the guerrillas. In this Republic 76 Kazakhstanis were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title. It is what bind us too, -he said.

After the talks, President Nursultan Nazarbayev took part in the ceremony of laying a wreath at the Monument of Glory. This is a tribute to the heroism to our fighters, among whom were many of our countrymen. The fate of many of them was unknown until recently. And only thanks to the search works light could shed on it. Kazakh Embassy published “The Book of Memory” with the names of two thousand Kazakhs, previously listed as missing.

20 years of partnership

Kazakhstan and Belarus are bound by many a decade of close cooperation and mutual assistance and alliance. This September will be 20th year of diplomatic relations, the time of reaching a new interaction level. The frequency of summits and meetings within the integration unions – CIS, CSTO, EurAsEC and Customs Union – points to it.

Successful negotiations of the troika enabled the launch of the Single Economic Space, succeeded then by the discussion within the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. The previously discussed issues entered on the 2012-2013 Joint Action Plan and the “Roadmap” that are being followed up.

The Belarusian partners are sharing in Kazakhstan’s AIID program. As planned, five major projects worth about $ 100 million are under implementation. Among them is assembly and repair of BelAZ, Yesil-740, Belarus-3022 and other combine harvesters and tractors. Establishment of joint tire production was probed into at the meeting.

23 Belarusian service centers are working in Kazakhstan, also 103 JVs, 6 shopping malls, a large number of Belarusian enterprises’ dealers.

– For our part, we intend to actively participate in privatization of Belarusian companies that are of interest, – said Kazakh President.

– We invite the Kazakh capital investments in the Belarusian enterprises and we will support their interests, – Alexander Lukashenko promised. -All the doors are open for cooperation. We are already jointly making tractors, harvesters, special equipment, agro-machinery.

Other initiatives are being materialized. Co-operation in science and technology is relied on in boosting competitiveness, and 38 joint projects are entered on the relevant 2012-2013 program. Conductive to it, according to Alexander Lukashenko, is the research and education consortium of both countries’ universities and research institutes, formed in the last year.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev also called establishment of the venture company “Center for EuAsEC Innovative Technologies”, comprised of the “troika”, an important constituent of the joint work.

The same holds with the Intergovernmental Commission on trade and economic cooperation, whose next meeting is scheduled in the second year-half in Taldykorgan. Cultural links are facilitated by a living bridge – nearly one hundred thousand of ethnic Belarusians living in Kazakhstan.

To a new level of partnership

The heads of state praised the outcome of the talks that chalked out further ways to expand the partnership.

Besides, the countries sealed an intergovernmental agreement on allocation of land plots for construction of buildings for diplomatic missions, also an agreement on agricultural and food cooperation.

A MoC between OJSC “AGAT – system management” – managing company of the “Geographic information systems management” holding and JSC “NC” Kazakhstan Engineering “, a memorandum of understanding and strategic cooperation between the Belarusian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry of JSC” Belneftekhim “and JSC “KazMunayGas” were signed. In all, eight intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents have been signed during the visit.

In regard to cooperation in agriculture, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said we have a lot to learn from Belarus, praising well-tended fields, neat and trim villages and roads there. These are on the highest level – he said.

Of particular interest to us is the Belarusian experience in revitalization of rural areas and small towns through the construction of agro-towns, about 1.5 thousand of them by date.

Another expertise of interest is creation of agro-holdings. One of them was visited by Kazakhstan journalists. It is OJSC “Dzerzhinsky” Agro-chemical combine- a self-sufficient production. As its general director Leonid Zayats said, it comprises a poultry farm, six agro-businesses, milk and bread factories, a transport production, a fish farm, 54 own sales outlets and several restaurants. The enterprise produces over 40 tons of poultry per year, 28 thousand tons of milk, 32 tons of grain, 130 tons of herbaceous forage for livestock.

Director of the Agro Industrial Complex said that the ongoing integration processes have a positive impact on the work of the enterprise- currency revenues from exports in particular. They formerly exported about 20 percent of meat, whereas at present- more than 40 and at times 50 percent – said L. Zayats.

Support of rural districts is a priority for Kazakhstan too. The program of the AIC development is part of the industrial policy. The agreement between the Ministries of Agriculture will be a good start for cooperation in the area.

In logistics creation of transport corridor from China to Brest is deemed promising and this issue is to be brought up today in Moscow, together with the President of Russia.

– With creation of the transport corridor Western Europe – Western China, Belarus will have a border with China through Kazakhstan. In turn, our country will border on Europe via Belarus, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev.

– Alexander Lukashenko said. “We would like to have a platform on the territory of Kazakhstan through which we could work with Central Asia and China. And we would gladly promote Kazakhstan’s interests in Europe”.

Cooperation within the UN, OSCE, CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO and other organizations was talked over. Kazakhstan expressed its readiness to support Belarus in its intention to become an observer in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Dynamism was also noted in development of the scientific, cultural and humanitarian interaction. The Abay Center of the Kazakh language, history and culture is opening at the Belarusian National Technical University, and the same-name Belarusian center at the Gumilev Eurasian National University.

– I appreciate the outcome of the talks, which have demonstrated our mutual desire to strengthen relations in all the interaction areas. I am confident that the ties of friendship and mutual respect binding us together and strategic partnership will continue to be the main principles of inter-state relations for the benefit of the people in Kazakhstan and Belarus, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev at the subsequent briefing.