The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan discussed efforts to expand interaction between the Russian Federation and Central Asian states in various spheres.
The agenda included, in particular, measures to protect common trade and economic interests in the current geopolitical situation and regional security issues in the context of the situation in Afghanistan.
Astana hosted the meeting on the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and the five Central Asian countries.
Following the summit, the participants adopted a Joint Statement.
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Speech at first Russia–Central Asia summit
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: (Addressing Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.) Thank you very much.
First of all, of course, I would like to thank all of you for supporting our initiative and gathering in this format.
It is clear that the relations between our countries are built in different areas and various formats. We maintain constant contact, direct contact, communication via bilateral channels, within the CIS, the EAEU, the CSTO and several other organisations. We can always ask for each other’s advice and address certain problems. However, I believe that this new format will also be useful and add value.
I am confident that the new format of our communication will be useful and bring us an additional benefit.
We are prompted to invigorate all mechanisms of interaction between us by the deteriorating global situation and the challenging regional situation, too, but primarily by the external attempts to prevent the development of our integration in many areas and upset our historically close ties and political, economic and humanitarian cooperation.
We believe there is a real demand now for the well-coordinated joint steps of our countries to build up our allied relations and strategic partnership and enhance the sustainability of our economies.
For its part, Russia is open to strengthening versatile cooperation with our Central Asian friends, in particular, to participating in creating new production-and-marketing chains, to ensuring the failsafe functioning of joint ventures and building alternative logistics routes.
We are also interested in your countries joining Russia’s large-scale initiatives on import substitution and other programmes and projects. I am sure this will benefit the development of all our economies and the acquisition of new competences.
Overall, Russia’s interaction with the Central Asian Five is very satisfactory. Thus, in the past five years, Russia’s trade with these countries has doubled to reach US$37.1 billion. In the first six months, our trade increased by another 16 percent. It reached US$37 billion in five years and grew by 16 percent in the first half of the year alone. Russia is the leading investor in the Central Asian economies. Overall, our direct investment is about US$5 billion.
The process of reconfiguring financial settlement mechanisms has been launched, eliminating the unnecessary involvement of Western companies and operators. Instead of SWIFT, we are switching to the proven Russian financial messaging system for contract settlements, similar to the national systems of your countries, and expanding the practice of opening direct correspondent accounts between lending institutions.
Cooperation between Russia and the five countries in the field of energy security is intensifying. We are talking about partnerships in creating generating capacity, building nuclear power plants, and introducing digital technologies. In particular, our country is ready to provide practical assistance to restore the unified energy system of Central Asia, which will certainly increase energy security for all countries in the region.
Meaningful opportunities are opening up in such areas as expanding oil transportation routes, as well as joint development of energy reserves in the Caspian Sea, providing affordable and clean natural gas vehicle fuel, building or expanding pipelines, and increasing the sale and shipping of coal to Asian markets.
Russia's reorientation of exports and imports is stimulating the development of transport corridors throughout the Greater Eurasia region. The key task is to develop new trans-Eurasian corridors passing through the territories of your countries: East-West, North-South and Europe-Western China. The introduction of information technologies and the use of artificial intelligence, as well as the development of border checkpoints for the seamless transportation of goods and cargo can significantly accelerate cargo flows.
I must mention the opportunities which are opening up for our cooperation through the Eurasian Economic Union. By the way, the EAEU has adopted a set of measures to ensure the sustainability of member states' economies and their macroeconomic stability. We estimate that the implementation of these measures will increase total gross domestic product by 2.5 percent, or approximately US$49 billion.
The Eurasian Development Bank also effectively supports the national economies of EurAsEC members. Its investments over the next five years will total almost US$11 billion.
I would like to emphasise that Russia regards the various forms of cooperation within the EAEU with countries that have not joined our union as very useful.
One more important issue is the improvement of interaction in ensuring epidemiological and sanitary safety. The pandemic starkly confirmed the need to develop a comprehensive regional system of measures capable of ensuring the health and wellbeing of our people, and the technological independence of the region’s states. It would make sense, for one, to think about the possibility of establishing a research laboratory as part of CIS infrastructure.
One of our priorities is to build up a joint technological information security resource. We suggest starting to implement in the CIS projects on digitising the urban environment (smart cities) and government administration (e-government), ensuring network security and providing digital education.
Colleagues, I mentioned just the obvious areas on which we should jointly focus in mid-term perspective. The Joint Statement that we will endorse following our meeting describes these plans in the minutest detail. I propose instructing our competent departments to start implementing this important document as a priority and develop consistent cooperation with each other.
The foreign ministries of our countries could coordinate further activities in the Russia–Central Asia format. I understand they will also prepare proposals regarding our next summit.
In conclusion, I would like to say a few words about the situation in Afghanistan, which was discussed in detail at the recent summits of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the CIS.
A hotbed of tensions is indeed smouldering on our southern borders with the potential to unleash waves of refugees, terrorist threats and the spread of extremist ideology. In the process, Western secret services, primarily American and British, are cultivating units that are opposing the Taliban, pointing them in the direction of the border areas of some of our countries to shell.
We are aware of the related risks and threats and so we are maintaining the required level of contacts with the Taliban leaders. It is in our interests to prevent another civil war in Afghanistan.
Facing economic decline, the Taliban government has had to tolerate some ways of making money, including drug trafficking, that have already become traditional for Afghanistan. This is common knowledge. Under pressure from foreign secret services, the Taliban is closing its eyes even to the appearance of terrorist support bases in the north. Cross-border ties of jihadists pose a threat to all of us.
Of course, we must work with the current authorities in Afghanistan. You know my position. But this is also a subject of meticulous analysis for us and we coordinate work in this area.
This is extremely important for all of our states. I would like to assure you that Russia is ready for work and will work, as before, in a very close contact with you in this area.