President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: President Putin, Russian friends and colleagues, I am very pleased to once again welcome you to our capital, Astana.
Today, when you arrived in Astana early in the morning, a crescent moon appeared in the sky, accompanied by very bright stars, which is a rare phenomenon, and I drew the attention of all those people who were present at the airport to welcome you today. I believe that this is a very good sign.
You arrived in Kazakhstan ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Agreement [between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan] on Good Neighbourliness and Alliance in the 21st century. Let me remind you that it was signed on November 11, 2013, in Yekaterinburg. This is a comprehensive document that is an important legal foundation for bilateral cooperation. It also defines the outlook for strengthening our multifaceted ties.
Mr President, please accept my greetings on this date, and it is very good that your visit coincided with it. Of course, in general, as I already told you today, your visit has great political, and one might even say historical, significance.
Everyone knows that Kazakhstan and Russia are allies and strategic partners. We are united by strong bonds of friendship, common history and close spiritual bonds. On the eve of your visit, I gave an interview to the Izvestia newspaper, where I said that the future of our relations is very bright, just as the past of our relations was very rich. Therefore, we have preserved and multiplied our main wealth: fraternal feelings and good neighbourly relations between the two nations. I note with satisfaction that today our interaction is developing successfully.
Today, at the opening of the forum, we stated the exact figures of our growing trade. Over the past three years, it grew more than 30 percent, and fortunately this positive trend continues. In the first eight months of this year, bilateral trade amounted to $17 billion, which is a record indicator.
Industrial cooperation is developing dynamically. Here, we can see some interesting numbers: 143 industrial cooperation projects worth over $33 billion are being implemented; 140 of them are based in Kazakhstan.
Russia is an undisputed leader in terms of the number of enterprises with foreign capital in Kazakhstan. Over 20,000 Russian companies are registered in our country, and this is a very impressive number.
According to our estimates, direct Russian investment exceeds $20 billion. As far as I know, your estimate is about $17–18 billion. However, the difference is rather small, and both numbers correlate with one other. About $3.5 billion have been invested over the past two years.
Our estimates show that the volume of Kazakhstani investment has reached $6 billion, and we are delighted to note that this process is mutual.
Cooperation in the oil and gas sector continues to develop actively. Agreements on Russian oil transit to China and Russian gas transit to Uzbekistan via the territory of our country have elevated energy interaction to an entirely new level.
We have set objectives for further developing trans-border cooperation at the ongoing 19th Interregional Forum for Russia-Kazakhstan Cooperation in Kostanay. I am confident that the substantial package of agreements and business contracts will unlock the weighty potential of regions and entire sectors of our economies.
I would like to note the growing diplomatic presence of our countries and the creation of new diplomatic infrastructure. This year, the network of Kazakhstani missions expanded in Russia and now includes a consulate general in Yekaterinburg. Kazakhstan has opened consulates general in St Petersburg, Kazan, Astrakhan and Omsk, and they are operating successfully. There are plans to open a Russian consulate-general in Aktau soon. This has tremendous importance from all points of view.
New aspects of our diverse ties are emerging. We will sign important documents that will allow us to make great headway in finance, the power industry, healthcare, fitness, sport, and other fields.
All this highlights the wide-ranging bilateral agenda and our mutual striving to strengthen our strategic partnership. This is why I look into the future with optimism, given that both countries will continue to work in all areas under the stern gaze of our governments, and I believe that we should expect future achievements soon.
Thank you for your visit once again. I would like to give the floor to you.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Mr President, friends, colleagues,
We are delighted to be in the capital of Kazakhstan today, to have an opportunity to exchange opinions about the current status of our relations, and to take a look into the future.
The strategic partnership and allied relations between our countries are steadily and successfully developing, which can be clearly seen from the figures.
We have just participated in a plenary session of the 19th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum, and while we were on our way here, the President and I shared our views on this matter. This format is very good. People can work and talk without intermediaries, and this always brings visible and significant results. I am sure the same will be true this time as well, especially since the subject is very important. Everyone knows what agriculture is all about since food is the lifeblood of any society and any country.
All the more so since we have excellent potential in view of global developments. Our colleagues discussed this, and the President and I also mentioned it. I am not talking about the conflicts, but the demographic things that are happening, I mean our enormous agricultural potential. We have good opportunities to secure our interests and to help many our partners on the global markets, which is what we are doing. The issue is about leveraging the advantages of our cooperation to boost these capabilities in the future. This is what we will do.
Indeed, the day after tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the basic Treaty between Russia and Kazakhstan on Neighbourliness and Alliance in the 21st century which has provided a solid foundation for expanding our multifaceted friendly relations. I would like to emphasise this very aspect of our relations: friendly relations.
Today, following the talks, we will sign a joint statement which lays out further strategic objectives to promote Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation. We will also approve a joint action plan, which defines specific areas of cooperation for the next three years. In addition, a number of important documents covering a wide range of areas of bilateral ties have been prepared for signing.
I am in constant contact with the President. We have excellent relations, both personal and business, which is certainly good for our work. I am certain that this will continue into the future.
Both of us recently took part in the CIS summit in Bishkek. Soon, we will meet in Minsk at a meeting of the Collective Security Council. Before the end of the year, we will have another chance to communicate in St Petersburg during the EAEU summit and the traditional informal New Year’s Eve meeting of the CIS leaders.
As I mentioned earlier, Russia is clearly one of Kazakhstan’s leading trade and economic partners. I will not provide the figures again, which were mentioned just now. They are very impressive, and most importantly, they provide the groundwork for future development.
The operation of our intergovernmental commission is based on a comprehensive programme of cooperation between our countries for 2021–2025, which means that the necessary legal framework is in place.
It is worth mentioning the Russian Seasons in Kazakhstan as a significant factor in promoting our cultural and humanitarian ties. I would like to say a few words about it. This year, Days of Russia will be held in Kazakhstan; I believe you plan to start them on November 17.
As for education, which is another important element in the development of our relations, I would like to say that 61,000 citizens of Kazakhstan are studying at Russian universities, and the education of 30,400 of them is funded by the Russian federal budget. We do not regard this as a waste of money. On the contrary, this is creating a solid foundation for maintaining our relations at a high level and looking toward the future. It is our investment in our future. In the 2023–2024 academic year, the government quota will be increased by another 200 citizens to 700 students.
I would like to highlight the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan to establish an International Organisation for the Russian Language, which has entered the implementation stage. I am referring to the recent decisions adopted by the CIS leaders at their summit in Bishkek and the signing of the relevant interstate agreement. Mr President, we can and do appreciate the significance of that initiative, and we are grateful to you for it.
We highly value our states’ constructive interaction in international affairs, which is based on common approaches to issues of fundamental significance. We are closely coordinating our activities within the EAEU, the CSTO, the CIS, the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the rotating chairmanship of which Kazakhstan assumed in July this year.
We are working successfully together within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, and in 2024 our countries will chair the main multilateral organisations: Russia will assume the chairmanship in BRICS and the CIS, while Kazakhstan will chair the CSTO. It goes without saying that we will support each other.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Thank you, Mr President.