In the frames of parliamentary diplomacy

Nov 10. Kazpravda

By Mikhail PUGASOV

In the frames of parliamentary diplomacyDeepening and expanding partnership with the European Union is a strategic priority of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Parliamentary diplomacy is particularly contributive to it.

Apart from traditional and long-term relations with the EU countries’ parliaments, in recent years the interaction has grown between Kazakh MPS and MEPs. At the 11th session of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee “Republic of Kazakhstan – European Union”, 30 October in Astana, views were exchanged on a wide scope of bilateral cooperation issues. In the interview to KP, Sergey Dyachenko- co-chair of the “Kazakhstan – EU” cooperation Committee and vice-speaker of the Majilis- details on it.

– What do you make of the current level and nature of relations between Kazakhstan and the European Union? What about the relations between Kazakhstan and European Parliaments?

– Kazakhstan’s cooperation with EU is prioritized in our foreign policy. The EU and Kazakhstan have reached a new partnership level, as evidenced by current negotiations on a new advanced agreement that identifies and fixes priorities for future cooperation.

Thanks to the state program “Path to Europe”, we have reached a high level of dialogue with the leading countries of Europe, signed strategic partnership agreements with France, Spain and Italy.

European Union now is our largest trade and investment partner. It accounts for nearly a half of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade turnover. As of the last year it is one of the highest in the history of our relationship and exceeded $ 50 billion; and over this-year first half it is over $ 27 billion.

From 1993 to 2011, the gross inflow of direct investment from the European Union to Kazakhstan’s economy was more than $ 65 billion. The main investors are the Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy and France.

European countries remain our main economic partners in the program of Kazakhstan’s industrial-innovative development.

We are interested in further building and diversification of the Kazakh-European cooperation in economy, trade, innovation and investments, in education, healthcare, protection of the environment. The EU is also our strategic partner in the negotiations on Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO.

Naturally, inter-parliamentary cooperation is a most important constituent in bilateral relations. Parliamentary diplomacy is an important tool of our foreign policy and communicator of Kazakhstan’s position on major international issues in the world. Our Parliamentary Cooperation Committee was formed in 2000 in accordance with the RK-EU partnership and cooperation Agreement, signed on 23 January 1995.

In all these years the Committee has developed into an effective discussion venue for Kazakhstan MPs and MEPs, a link of a constructive dialogue between politicians. A range of bilateral cooperation topics are considered at its annual meetings.

I believe we have succeeded in bringing together the positions on many important international issues.

The regular meetings enable a fruitful exchange on legislative and political activity, mutual interest issues, a constructive dialogue between legislators, removing the cultural, economic and political obstacles in bilateral relations.

During the last visit, the MEPs, led by co-chair of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee “Kazakhstan – EU” Paolo Bartolozzi met with the Majilis and Senate speakers- N. Nigmatulin and K. Mami, the National Bank chairman G. Marchenko, deputy prime minister E . Orynbayev, Ministers of Foreign Affairs E. Idrisov, and of environment N. Kapparov. Majilis deputies K. Sultanov and A. Solovyova presented reports on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan in 2011 and on the activities of the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan.

– What were the uppermost focuses of the parliamentary meetings?

-Firstly, we focused on the formulation of a new partnership and cooperation agreement between Kazakhstan and the European Union, secondly, possibility of visa facilitation, thirdly, our cooperation in trade and economy, including in matters of energy dialogue, fourthly, we concurred on the need to strep up interaction in countering new threats to security.

In this relation the MPs were appreciative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiative of developing a continental platform of Atlantic and Eurasian security, proponed at the OSCE Summit in Astana in 2010.

We exchanged views on all priority cooperation areas, including education, health, human rights, the environment and water issues, made a note of a huge potential for bilateral cooperation in governance, transport, agriculture, innovations and new technologies, renewable energy, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, regional planning, information and communication technologies.

– During the meeting various ideas were suggested on how to promote cooperation. Which of them would you mention as of particular relevance to us?

– It is known, the short-term strategic priority of Kazakhstan is socioeconomic modernization, the pivot of the President’s policy. Therefore, our deputies’ idea that we need to study the EU experience and co-create and implement social programs is held as particularly relevant.

For example effective system of social standards would result in better planning and better control in the formation of republican and local budgets, and eventually lead to a real improvement in the quality of Kazakhstanis’ life. It is known that the European Union has achieved a lot in such matters and we would like to work more closely together in order to learn the experience and adapt it to our conditions.

The European Union today is a recognized leader in the youth policy too, specifically the socialization, education, vocation guidance and employment. And we would like to learn more of these programs, now that we have opted for the “social lifts” for young people.

We also need European experience in medical insurance. Cooperation in “green economy”, maintaining of environmental cleanliness in our regions are promising areas as well.

All these aspects must be entered on the new partnership and cooperation agreement.

– What is the upshot of the most recent meeting of the “RK-EU” Committee?

– As you can see, the agenda of the meeting was loaded enough. We have exchanged views on a range of topics – from political, trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation to promoting democracy, human rights, international situation. It resulted in a unanimous adoption of a final document – “Conclusions of the 11th meeting of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee” Republic of Kazakhstan – European Union “.

This meeting showed that we are on the “same wavelength” with MEPs, have mutual understanding, share the same problems and vision on their solutions. Advancement of contacts, of multifarious dialogue is apparent.

The MEPs, and this is very important to us, praised the ongoing processes in Kazakhstan, the upswing in the political and economic development. To us, it was also a good opportunity to communicate to the MEPs our President’s policies and major initiatives.

It was noted that Kazakhstan today has a solid position in the world and is the most advanced nation in Central Asia, possesses a huge potential and is a bridge between the East and the West.

I hope the 11th meeting of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee will give a fresh impetus to the Kazakh-European cooperation, inter-parliamentary ties including.