Attending the meeting were President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Traditional informal meeting of the leaders of the CIS member states takes place in St Petersburg on December 26–27.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
First of all, I would like to thank you all for accepting the invitation and coming to St Petersburg for the informal meeting of the heads of state of members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which we traditionally hold ahead of New Year.
I believe the fact that we once again gathered in such a friendly circle shows eloquently our desire to further build cooperation in the CIS space together, in the spirit of a true strategic partnership, mutual benefit and respect for the interests of all countries.
Therefore, today I propose that we sum up together the work of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2022, talk about plans for the future and, of course, discuss issues of concern to all of us on the regional and international agenda.
This year the multifaceted interaction of our states has been developing successfully on the whole. This confirms the steady growth of trade among us and between Russia and all CIS countries.
Between January and October, it has grown 6.6 percent to $81.5 billion. We have reasons to expect that by the end of this year, it will have reached $100 billion.
All this is happening amid the challenging situation brought on by volatility on global markets, unfavourable global economic conditions, and the pressure caused by the sanctions applied by some countries. The CIS countries are more actively shifting toward mutual settlements in their national currencies.
The Commonwealth has been taking coordinated action to substitute imports, achieve technological sovereignty, and boost joint industrial production and research potential.
These measures have resulted in stronger economic and financial sovereignty of the CIS states. Internal markets for goods, services and capital are developing rapidly. The CIS countries enjoy deeper regional integration.
Maintaining security and stability in our common Eurasian region is another key aspect of cooperation within the CIS. Unfortunately, every year the challenges and threats in this area continue to grow. Regrettably, we have to admit that disagreements among the CIS member states also occur.
Nevertheless, the most important thing is that we are ready to cooperate, and we will do so. Even if problems arise, we strive to resolve them ourselves, jointly, offering to each other help and assistance as allies and intermediaries.
It is in the same constructive fashion that the Commonwealth countries interact with respect to countering terrorism and extremism, trans-border crime, illegal drug trafficking, and corruption. I would like to mention that this year, national security, and intelligence services, as well as other agencies responsible for law enforcement and internal stability have remained in close contact.
It should be noted with satisfaction that cooperation between the CIS countries includes important areas like the preservation of a common cultural and humanitarian space and expansion of various exchanges between our people. Indeed, our nations have so much in common: our shared history, spiritual roots, deeply intertwined cultures and customs, values and traditions. And, of course, the Russian language is a major unifying power that binds our multi-ethnic states together.
At one of the previous summits, we decided to hold the Year of the Russian Language across the CIS in 2023. I would like to thank you all for supporting this initiative.
A packed programme of events aimed at supporting, maintaining and improving the [Russian] language as a language for interethnic communication and at comprehensively promoting our achievements in culture has been developed. The holding of these events will facilitate the mutual spiritual and cultural enrichment of the CIS countries.
In conclusion, I would like to say again that I am confident that increasing the interaction within the CIS meets the fundamental interests of the peoples of our countries, helps deal with the goals of the social and economic development of the CIS countries more efficiently, and strengthens regional stability and security.
Friends, once again, I want to thank you for accepting our invitation to visit St Petersburg. It was a common desire, and we have repeatedly discussed this, but it is formally Russia’s initiative, and I am thankful that you supported it.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you a happy New Year. I wish you, your families, friends, and the citizens of your countries good health, happiness, wellbeing and prosperity. Thank you for your attention.
If anyone has anything to add, please.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Since Kazakhstan has chaired the Commonwealth of Independent States this year, I would like to say just a few words.
First of all, of course, I thank President Putin for the invitation and warm welcome in this historic city. Our meetings are becoming a tradition, as you have rightly noted. These meetings provide a good opportunity to discuss topical issues of cooperation within the CIS and outline tasks for the future.
This year turned out to be difficult for the entire world community, and in these conditions, Kazakhstan as the chair of the CIS adopted a number of specific measures to strengthen the potential of the Commonwealth. Over 80 major events were held throughout the year, and numerous initiatives were implemented to expand economic cooperation, maintain close cultural ties and strengthen the organisation’s reputation. Our joint efforts are reflected in the documents adopted following the Astana Summit in October.
Particular focus throughout the year was made primarily on the implementation of the tasks of the CIS Economic Development Strategy until 2030. We believe all these steps have borne fruit. I would like to note with satisfaction that Kazakhstan's trade with the CIS countries increased by 11 percent from January to October, reaching almost $30 billion. For the same period in 2021, this figure was $26.5 billion, so an increase of about $5 billion is a good trend.
I would like to draw attention to the creation of favourable conditions for trade. We believe that we should focus on eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers, preventing protectionism, and establishing cooperation in food security matters. The CIS ministerial conference, which will be held in Astana next year, will be devoted to the search for common approaches in this area. We hope, of course, for the active participation of the relevant ministers.
There is a need for new mechanisms and cooperation formats to improve the efficiency of transport and logistics projects in the CIS. In this regard, the North-South international corridor, of which the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran Railway is an important transport artery, is of particular importance. We are aware of the fact that the Russian Federation has also shown a practical interest in implementing this project which is a welcome development.
Collaboration in security is critically important. The 2023–2025 Programme of Cooperation in Combating Terrorism and Extremism adopted under Kazakhstan’s chairmanship meets these goals.
In order to adapt the organisation to modern global realities, we will need to improve its potential and strengthen the position of the Commonwealth in the international arena. In the near future, we will start drafting documents on creating institutions for CIS observer and Commonwealth partner status.
Of course, common cultural and humanitarian cooperation and, as you aptly noted, the strengthening of the language space in the CIS is of lasting importance. Here, the role of the Russian language cannot be doubted in any way. Assigning the official status of the Cultural Capital of the Commonwealth to St Petersburg will serve to strengthen cultural ties between the CIS countries in 2023.
I believe we will join the effort to come up with an information agenda that will meet the interests of our states.
It is symbolic that in the coming year the Commonwealth will celebrate the Year of the Russian Language. Kazakhstan's initiative to create an international organisation to support the Russian language under the auspices of the CIS will be acted upon.
I would like to wish Mr Sadyr Japarov every success as the Kyrgyz Republic assumes the CIS chairmanship next year.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for your remarks and your review of what was accomplished during the previous year. This is very important for Kazakhstan as chair, just as it is for all of us, if we want to achieve good results as we move forward.