15 february 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev

They discussed integration in the post-Soviet space, in particular the newly established Customs Union, economic relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, which as Mr Putin said have been “making decent progress despite all the crises,” as well as the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Nazarbayev, let me welcome you to Moscow once again. I understand you had a lengthy, very substantial conversation with President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday.

We have much to discuss. The Customs Union has been set up with your great support. It has been effective since January 1, and the Customs Committee has taken over some national duties. It is, in fact, the first-ever supranational agency in the post-Soviet area.

Though it has a somewhat limited reach, it involves a sensitive area. Our experts are working actively to help the Customs Union realise its entire potential by July 1. We have already started moving towards the creation of a common economic area.

All these are landmarks in terms of our cooperation, and once again I would like to congratulate everyone involved. I would like to use this occasion, our face to face meeting, to thank you for the many years of hard work you have put into this. I remember how staunchly you promoted these ideas and how you initiated the relevant processes. Now, you have brought them to final fruition. This is a major event in the post-Soviet area. That's the first point.

Second. This year Kazakhstan is chairing the OSCE. I wish it every success. In recent years we have had many questions about the OSCE's work.

A post-Soviet country has never before chaired this international organisation. We are all counting on Kazakhstan to help it become truly universal in character and to start working on the issues for which it was intended. The OSCE will be a good platform primarily for the discussion of security issues, but also for the promotion and strengthening of democracy in the post-Soviet space and across the continent.

Here I think we should congratulate Viktor Yanukovych on his victory in the Ukrainian presidential election, which the Central Election Commission has officially announced today.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: We should call him together.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we should call and congratulate him. I remember the quasi-revolution of 2005 in Ukraine. Its leaders exploited popular discontent, expectations of people, their desire for change. Incidentally their expectations failed to materialise and their hopes were betrayed. Right then, after a third round was announced even though neither the Constitution nor other legislation made provision for it, it was clear that nothing good would come of it, because you cannot strengthen democracy without respecting the law.

The events of the recent months were no surprise to me, as the Orange movement's leaders essentially dealt a "slap in the face" to their own political sponsors supporters by conferring the title of Hero of Ukraine on Stepan Bandera, who not merely collaborated with the Nazis but instigated atrocious massacres of Jews and Poles.

We hope that the Ukrainian nation, that we all view fraternally, has put these hard times behind it, and that we will be able to establish normal inter-governmental relations, draw up economic plans, strengthen social cooperation, and propose joint efforts towards integration in which Ukraine has been involved, albeit less actively than it indicated at first. After all we were here, right here, when we agreed the initial process towards the creation of the Customs Union.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: Yes, that's what I just wanted to remind you about.

Vladimir Putin: There is another event, the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. People from all former Soviet republics fought and died there. People from Kazakhstan were certainly wounded and killed there, too.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: Yes, very many. We have many monuments to fallen soldiers.

Vladimir Putin: As for economic matters, I had a telephone conversation with your prime minister. He called two days ago. We discussed our economic cooperation. Our economic relations are making decent progress despite all the crises. We will have the opportunity to discuss this today, among other topics.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: Mr Putin, thank you for sparing the time for this meeting. We often talk over the phone but have not met in person for quite a long time, and we have much to discuss.

I, too, wanted to start with what you have just said. It was right here, at Novo-Ogaryovo, that the four of us gathered on your initiative. But the common economic area has always been my brainchild. I visited on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day in 2004 to suggest closer integration between Russia and Kazakhstan. You said then: "Let us talk it over. We will invite Mr Kuchma and Mr Lukashenko, and discuss it, the four of us." We talked about the common economic area, and even signed a memorandum and issued instructions. However, certain developments later made progress lurch into reverse.

Now, I want to stress that you have not merely played a supporting role on a project I initiated. I know that you fully support the re-integration of the post-Soviet space, and that you wish to see those countries integrate, that want to.

Every time I visit Novo-Ogaryovo I remember the arguments in 1991 about the drawing up and signing of the Union Treaty, which was later "successfully" derailed.

I think we will of course talk about the Customs Union. All the agreements are in place, and the Customs Code approved. It will enter into force on July 1.

A EurAsEC meeting has been set for the day before to evaluate our readiness. I talked it over with President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday. As I see it, this and the fact that we immediately asked everyone to work towards the common economic area in 2011-2012 is precisely what we have been striving for together, and what I have always talked about.

There is no alternative to integration, as the global economic crisis has shown. We are neighbours, and one cannot choose one's neighbours. God granted our forefathers to live here together, and our descendants will live here long after us. It is the leaders' duty to pass on this sense of friendly unity, our traditional, cultural and emotional closeness to future generations. Our nations will benefit from this friendship. I am convinced of that.

Today, in the presence of the press, we really can send our best regards to Viktor Yanukovych. We supported him back then, too. We can say that we hope for more frequent meetings, and for greater mutual understanding because Ukraine is Ukraine, and we are aware of its role in the post-Soviet area, Europe and the world.

Ukraine deserves to become a country with which its population, the Ukrainian people and everyone who lives there is satisfied. As for the economic crisis, it is a challenge we all share: there is trade to develop, and there are transport corridors to build. We are establishing a huge number of joint ventures. Russian companies have invested about four billion in Kazakhstan.

There are some problems concerning the joint use of the Baikonur space centre. It can certainly be of use when shared by both Russia and Kazakhstan. There are other aspects of bilateral partnership: the nuclear industry and nuclear technology. They involve ambitious, long-term plans. As I have met with you and the Russian president at the beginning of this year, I think we are coordinating our activities as always. Our cooperation, our affinity, trust and neighbourliness is set to continue. We will also meet this year on the 65th anniversary of the victory in World War Two. We have received your invitation.

You and I have established a tradition of annual regional meetings held in Russia and Kazakhstan alternately. One of those meetings will take place this year, too. Meetings like this foster unity.

As you know, our neighbours in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation are in the grip of complex economic developments. We can discuss all those problems together. Thank you for the time you have spared me. I wish you health, and every success to Russia and its people.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.