Astana – Moscow: a model of strategic partnership

Oct 10. Kazpravda. Moscow

By Vladimir Kuryatov

Astana - Moscow: a model of strategic partnershipIn the Kremlin yesterday Kazakhstan and Russian Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin held talks.

The visit is timed to the 20th year of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance and the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, given which Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin exchanged views on development of integration, trade and economic relations, regional and international issues. The meeting was crowned by a joint statement, expressing will for furthering of the strategic partnership.

Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated Vladimir Putin on his 60th birthday, wished him good health and thanked for the traditional Russian hospitality. He called the interaction between the two countries exemplary in the CIS.

– We need to hold on to a balanced approach to all issues of economic integration, particularly in the frames of the established Single Economic Space, – he said.

The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance requires updates, tailored to modern realities, he believes.

Indeed on expert assessment, Russia and Kazakhstan have formed a strategic alliance that develops bilaterally and in the frames of the Eurasian integration project. This meeting is 14th since the last year-start, and the two Presidents last met recently – in September, at the IX Forum of Interregional Cooperation of Russia and Kazakhstan in Pavlodar that resulted in nearly 30 signed agreements, including specific projects the total worth of about $ 2 billion.

The Interregional Forum, which Nursultan Nazarbayev described in his article for the “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” as unprecedented in the CIS and in the world, involves almost all Kazakhstan’s and about 80 Russian regions. The cross-border and inter-regional trade accounts for about 70% of bilateral trade.

It is hard to overestimate the influence of the dialogue venue on the inter-state relations. According to Alexei Vlasov- Director of the MSU Information and Analytical Center for Social and Political Processes on the post-soviet space, the two heads of state target the business for innovation. And rightly so. It is necessary to create regional clusters, brands and through inter-regional cooperation to promote them onto international markets.

For this end, a Kazakh-Russian fund for nanotechnology was set up as a structure for a technological breakthrough of the two economies.

Another focus is to encourage the development of small and medium businesses, building of enabling environment for joint ventures in areas not related to the interests of large corporations. This intersects with the social modernization, extremely relevant for both Kazakhstan and Russia. Common ground in these areas would be good for both the countries’ sustainability.

The uppermost topic of the talks, therefore, was economic development that has seen a big breakthrough of late. The 2011 bilateral trade reached a record high figure – nearly $ 24 billion, which, the leaders say, is a good indicator, suggesting that integration is working.

It is particularly gratifying, to which Vladimir Putin pointed, that the share of sales and purchases of our traditional wares – oil and gas- is not so big in the structure of trade between Kazakhstan and Russia, both oil-and-gas producing countries.

By the way, 10 years ago, cross-country trading volume was not more than $ 5 billion, while today we get the same amount over one quarter alone. According to Nursultan Nazarbayev, as of the first six months alone, the trade surpasses $ 11 billion. After the establishment of the Customs Union it has been growing 30% up a year in each state.

In view of the integration processes, Kazakhstan and Russia are set to bring the sales volume to $ 40 billion.

Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin also discussed enhancement of ties in electricity, peaceful atom, oil and gas industry, space exploration.

Other topics covered were regional and international cooperation, deepening of integration processes in the CIS, creation in 2015 of the Eurasian Economic Union, boosting work of the CSTO. These areas are of special relevance in run-up to the session of the Council of CIS Heads of State in Ashgabat, scheduled for November 2, and the upcoming December meetings in Moscow- a session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and of the EurAsEC Interstate Council.

The Eurasian integration, as repeatedly stressed by the “troika” leaders, must be made into a social project. And this is possible only through improved well-being of the citizens, when the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space and the Eurasian Union start giving them a rise in incomes and tell beneficially on the social situation.

In terms of macroeconomic performance, positive results are already there: the single economic space has removed administrative hurdles, which in turn added a few percents to the GDP.

It’s no accident that nearest neighbors are increasingly interested in integration associations and a closer cooperation: Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Armenia and Ukraine. The opening up opportunities attract non-CIS nations too, specifically, the possibility of a free trade area between the CU and the ASEAN members-countries. Negotiations are ongoing with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and New Zealand.

The heads of state concurred that large-scale events held in both countries on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, are conductive to mutual understanding, strengthening of the social constituent.

The joint statement reaffirmed the priority of cooperation in all key areas and mutual will to provide conditions for the preservation and strengthening of the common cultural space, to coordinate efforts for further rapprochement.

The two countries’ Governments are instructed to draw a new treaty on good-neighborliness and Alliance in the XXI century.

During the visit to Moscow, Nursultan Nazarbayev also had business meetings: with “LUKOIL” CEO Vagit Alekperov to discuss the company’s investment in the oil sector in Kazakhstan and cooperation prospects with JSC “KazMunaiGas”; with Board Chairman of the” Sistema” Stock Financial Corporation Vladimir Yevtushenko to talk over businesses cooperation and investment in the industrial and innovation, petrochemical, economic and other areas in Kazakhstan.

After the talks, the Presidents were taken to a gala concert at the Bolshoi, timed to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between Russia and Kazakhstan, in which the two countries’ artists performed.