Belarus considers Kazakhstan as a platform for expanding its presence in Central Asia and is ready to become Kazakhstan’s gateway to Europe. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made the statement as he met with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on 14 May.
The heads of state discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral relations, results and prospects of cooperation in various industries. The negotiations were held in the narrow and extended formats. On 12-13 May Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev met informally in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The Belarusian head of state received his Kazakhstani counterpart in his residence Viskuli.
" We had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, discuss a lot of issues that need to be discussed, on a personal level and at the interstate level ," Alexander Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian head of state said he believes the timing of the Kazakhstan President visit to Belarus on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries was symbolic. He was satisfied that the two countries had approached the date with a large number of achievements in virtually all areas of Belarusian-Kazakh cooperation.
"We have agreed to find time to meet every year to take stock of what has been done to implement our agreements," Alexander Lukashenko said.
According to the head of state, this is why Belarus and Kazakhstan have approached the $1 billion mark in the bilateral trade. “Right now it is a drop in the ocean. We should at least double the mutual trade. We have good prospects,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Kazakhstan ranks third in trade with Belarus in the CIS behind Russia and Ukraine. Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the two economies are complementary.
"We have absolutely identical views on the Single Economic Space. We are working in this direction and have good prospects," The Belarusian President is convinced.
“Today it is important to effectively exploit capabilities of the Single Economic Space and those of the Eurasian Economic Union in the future. It will allow advancing our relations to a higher level,” the Belarusian head of state stressed.
The President of Belarus believes the free flow of merchandise, services, capital, and workforce will allow using the potential of Belarus and Kazakhstan in full. “It should secure sustainable economic growth in our countries,” the Belarusian leader said.
Alexander Lukashenko pointed out that Belarus is eager to implement big joint projects in industrial cooperation, energy, transport, logistics, new technologies, telecommunications, agriculture with Kazakhstan.
Belarus also expects that new terms will allow forging investment cooperation. “We hope that Kazakh capital will participate in privatization processes in our country,” the President of Belarus said. In turn, Belarusian enterprises may be interested in more active participation in Kazakh government programs, including those meant to modernize the Kazakh economy.
Alexander Lukashenko pointed out the similarity of approaches and views in the two countries. “Belarus and Kazakhstan have no differences in the political dialogue. We have similar views on topical issues on the international agenda, common approaches to principles of advancing Eurasian integration. Both countries are aimed at primarily fulfilling socially oriented goals and raising the living standards of our nations,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko was satisfied with the systematic character of bilateral relations. A medium-term strategy for joint work in all the key areas – economy, science and technology, cultural and humanitarian ties – has been worked out. A roadmap for cooperation in 2012-2013 has been approved at the intergovernmental level. The document includes about 60 joint events and projects in all areas of cooperation.
Belarus hopes for and has already received Nazarbayev’s support to have a platform in Kazakhstan to advance its interests to Central Asia and China. “We are ready to present your interests in Europe. It will be your unique platform for the work in the European Union and the Customs Union,” Alexander Lukashenko said addressing the President of Kazakhstan.
The President of Belarus drew attention to the joint projects. They manufacture tractors, combine harvesters, mining, automotive, and special equipment, agricultural machinery. Currently, 13 projects are at the active stage of implementation, 7 of which have been included in state programs of Kazakhstan.
Summing up the negotiations, Alexander Lukashenko noted that the parties have big plans for cooperation in agriculture, transport, and logistics. Among others the parties discussed the project to create a transport corridor from China to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. “Tomorrow we are meeting with the President of Russia. We are going to discuss the project to modernize and where necessary build roads by efforts of the three countries. We can almost halve the way of goods from Europe to Kazakhstan and vice versa,” the Belarusian leader said.
The Belarusian side has invited Kazakhstan to invest in Belarusian enterprises. Alexander Lukashenko stated that Belarus is ready to provide priority support to the interests of investors from Kazakhstan. Moreover, Belarus is ready to welcome Kazakh business that wants to participate in the privatization program.
Besides, humanitarian cooperation develops fast. The two countries vigorously cooperate in education, science, and culture.
"I think our today's meeting will give a new impetus to the development of new cooperation avenues between the two states," Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
The President of Kazakhstan also pointed out good dynamics of meetings with the Belarusian head of state. "We meet annually, have a robust cooperation program. For Kazakhstan Belarus is a strategic partner, close friend and an ally," Nursultan Nazarbayev noted.
In his words, Belarus-Kazakhstan cooperation is extremely important as the two countries are members of the Single Economic Space. "This makes us even closer. There are no closer allies than Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet space," the President of Kazakhstan stressed.
Nursultan Nazarbayev expects that this visit will help reach a new level in cooperation between Belarus and Kazakhstan. He stressed that Belarus is one of Kazakhstan's main political and economic partners.
The two countries see eye to eye with each other on the domestic and international agenda and cooperate closely in regional integration projects, including the Single Economic Space. “Our number one priority is to make this project equal, independent and beneficial for all the member states. The Customs Union and the Single Economic Space have contributed greatly to increasing the bilateral trade over the two years. We will start working on the Eurasian Economic Union after the SES secures a firm foothold. We have formalized that by 2013 Russia will start working on railway tariffs and by 2015 it will have dealt with monopolists and pipelines. After that we will approach closely the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union,” Nursultan Nazarbayev said.
He noted that the projects discussed at the previous meeting of the two heads of state are already being implemented, including the Roadmap, development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation in 2012-2013.
According to Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan is currently running an accelerated industrial innovative development program. Belarus takes part in this program, too. Belarusian companies run service centers in Kazakhstan; there are dozens of joint ventures, several trading houses, and a significant number of offices and dealers of Belarusian companies in Kazakhstan.
“Joint production of automobile tires seems a good idea. There are good prospects for setting up a tire plant in Kazakhstan,” Nursultan Nazarbayev said.
Besides, he emphasized the relevance of promoting cooperation in science and technology, agriculture, transport and logistics.
Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed a high opinion of today’s talks. “Their major outcome is outlining development prospects and boosting ties”.
All agreements were reflected in the joint statement signed by the presidents and documents concluded during the visit of Kazakhstan's delegation to Belarus.
"The parties shall provide mutual support in the international human rights organizations, jointly oppose to use human rights as an instrument of political pressure," the joint statement runs.
Moreover, the two countries will continue close cooperation in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for further advancement of common priorities and initiatives to rectify misbalances and enhance the efficiency in the organization. “Main attention will be attached to the formalization of the OSCE and constituent instrument, securing transparency in the work of its institutes and election observation missions,” the joint statement says.
Kazakhstan will support Belarus in getting the observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“I am confident that the implementation of the agreements will help strengthen our strategic partnership,” the President of Belarus said. Alexander Lukashenko also addressed the Kazakh people noting that they “need to know, to remember and understand that here, on the western border of the Customs Union, the Eurasian Economic Union, they have reliable friends who are ready to represent their interests in any point of the European continent.”
The heads of state agreed to meet annually at the highest levels to control the execution of decisions.