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Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum

November 9, 2018, Petropavlovsk

Vladimir Putin attended the 15th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum focusing on new approaches and trends in the development of tourism in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Following the forum, a number of documents were signed in the presence of the two leaders. These include a Joint Action Plan of Russia and Kazakhstan for 2019–2021 and a Plan of Measures to Implement the Programme for Interregional and Cross-Border Cooperation between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2018–2023.

The documents that were signed also concern the implementation of the Russia-Kazakhstan Programme for Cross-Border Cooperation and collaboration in the field of tourism.

Additionally, amendments were introduced regarding the lease agreement of the Baikonur Space Launch Centre as well as in the intergovernmental agreement on crossing the Russian-Kazakh state border by people living near to these areas.

Earlier on in the day, the President of Russia and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the exhibition devoted to promising joint projects in the field of tourism.

The leaders of the two states also held a one-on-one meeting to discuss topical matters relating to Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation in various spheres.

* * *

Remarks at the 15th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev: Mr President, colleagues,

I am glad to welcome you to Petropavlovsk, a regional centre in Northern Kazakhstan. It is with great pleasure that we receive you here as our close partners, colleagues and neighbours. A close neighbour is said to be better than a distant relative. So we are neighbours, we are relatives.

Over time, this forum has established itself as an effective interstate platform, and has become an important institution of political and economic interaction between our countries.

This format has become a model in the post-Soviet space. During these forums, we have signed more than 200 agreements. The implementation of these documents gives a significant impetus to the development of regions as well as entire economic sectors both in Russia and Kazakhstan. In my opinion, our other partners are also adopting our experience. I heard recently that Uzbekistan would like to establish a similar forum.


We have already built a clear line of cooperation in almost all areas of the economy. We are actively cooperating in a multilateral format, including within the Eurasian Economic Union, the CSTO, the UN, the CIS, the SCO, the OSCE, and other international platforms.

The Russian Federation is our strategic ally and our most important trade and economic partner. In the first eight months of 2018, our mutual trade exceeded $11 billion; we expect it to reach $18 billion by the end of the year, and the $20 billion target will not be so far off.

It is encouraging that the share of processed goods in mutual trade continues to grow, reaching 82 percent. Russia is the largest market for Kazakhstani exports of processed products – more than $2 billion.

During the years of Kazakhstan’s independence, Russia's foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan amounted to about $14 billion, and Kazakhstan’s FDI in Russia is about $4 billion. These figures clearly confirm our importance for each other. More than 9,000 businesses co-owned by Russia successfully operate in Kazakhstan, and they are represented in all sectors of the economy.

As of today, we have already implemented over 60 large investment projects worth $10 billion. A further 57 projects worth $6 billion are being implemented in the oil and gas industry, mining, and agriculture.

In agriculture, projects worth over $500 million are being implemented. In the chemical industry, Eurochem has invested $1 billion in the construction of a mineral fertiliser plant.

A joint transport and logistics company is operating in the railway and logistics sector, with 57 train connections operating along 15 lines between our countries, not including the transit trains from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The Western Europe – Western Kazakhstan project provides for synergy in road transportation. Our countries execute 210 flights to 38 destinations daily, with 27 destinations added in recent years.

In education, 66 Kazakhstani universities are closely cooperating with 93 Russian universities; over 500 cooperation agreements have been signed. Kazakhstani and Russian medical universities have signed almost 70 joint memorandums.

All of this proves our multifaceted, stable, mutually beneficial and neighbourly cooperation, which fortunately has not stopped after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This is good for both our states in the long term as well as for the prosperity of our people.


Today’s forum is dedicated to an important, topical issue: new approaches and trends in the development of tourism in our countries. In the current situation, tourism is a key growth driver of the global economy and for creation of new jobs in many countries.

Today tourism accounts for 10 percent of the global economy, 30 percent of service exports and every tenth job. Tourism attracts hundreds of billions of dollars in direct investment. It generates exponential growth in almost all key economic sectors.

Last year the global export of tourism services reached $1.6 trillion. Tourism is a tool for economic growth even in the time of global economic crises.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, by the year 2030, some 1.8 billion people will have visited popular resorts and cities as well as historical and cultural landmarks. Experts also estimate that the tourism industry will mainly grow through the development of new destinations since traditional centres of travel have reached the limit of their recreational potential.

Kazakhstan and Russia must not stay away from these processes. We must efficiently embrace the given opportunities and take systemic measures to improve bilateral tourism. It is important to benefit from our geographic proximity as well as our proximity to China and India, the countries where international tourism is rapidly growing.

We are finalising Kazakhstan’s five-year tourism development programme and expect an increase in the number of travellers to Kazakhstan to 13 million visitors and the creation of over 60,000 jobs. The state programme will be based on the top ten tourist centres which we will mention today. Citizens from more than 60 states are eligible for visa-free travel to Kazakhstan.

We know that Russia is also involved in intensive development of tourism. I would like to specifically point out that bilateral tourism is an important area of our cooperation. Both Russia and Kazakhstan have many attractions that the citizens of our countries have not yet seen, places for recreation as well as sightseeing.

For example, Russians, especially from West Siberia, like visiting the Borovoye resort area, lakes Balkhash and Alakol during the summer months. In winter, they travel to Shymbulak in Almaty, the ski resort, and other places.

In Russia, there are also a great number of regions which we, the Kazakhstani people, are really interested in visiting. Such a high demand must create a quality supply. Despite our joint efforts to develop tourism, there are a number of matters that require consideration.

For example, we need to consider upgrading checkpoints at Russia-Kazakhstan borders to ensure that these are easy for tourists to pass through; improving the tourist transport and logistics infrastructure; promoting tourism in the Caspian Sea region through joint efforts, assisting in space tourism development, and many other issues.

Mr President, I consider it necessary to give an additional impetus to our cooperation in tourism, and our governments must pay due attention to this.

Geographical, historical, social and cultural proximity of our nations provide extremely favourable conditions for doing this job together. I think today we will discuss all these matters and I hope we will have a constructive day.

Mr Putin, allow me to give the floor to you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, friends.

I would like to greet all the participants of the 15th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum.

I completely see eye to eye with President Nazarbayev. Intense and diverse interregional contacts contribute greatly to the strengthening of friendship and mutual partnership between our countries, to developing the entire scope of Russia-Kazakhstan relations which can truly be characterised as a neighbourly alliance, across all fields.

Just now, the President of Kazakhstan and I discussed the current status of our bilateral links and opportunities for their further expansion. It goes without saying that we focused particularly on trade as well as investments.

We noted that the economies of Russia and Kazakhstan are becoming increasingly interrelated and integrated as the connections and cooperation within industries deepen.

Russia maintains close cooperation with our Kazakhstani partners within the Eurasian Union and the CIS and we continue to work together on eliminating persisting obstacles in the way of free movement of goods and services.

Based on the 2017 results, trade between Russia and Kazakhstan grew by a substantial 30 percent and exceeded, as Mr Nazarbayev pointed out, $17.2 billion. Between January and August of this year, trade increased by another nine percent.

Russia’s investments into the Kazakhstani economy reached $12.2 billion while Kazakhstan’s investments into the Russian economy totaled $3.6 billion. Our countries are implementing multiple projects, including in the sectors related to high technology, i.e. energy, car production, machine engineering, the chemical industry, uranium enrichment and space exploration.

It is important to note that 63 percent of all the transactions between Russian and Kazakhstani economic operators are carried out in national currencies. We hope that very soon this figure will go up to 70 to 75 percent.

We are engaged in extensive cooperation in the field of culture and the humanitarian sector. Last October, Kazakhstan successfully hosted the Days of Russian Culture. We are boosting educational exchanges. Around 72,000 Kazakhstani students are studying at Russian universities.

Notably, to a large extent, the successful development of Russia-Kazakhstani relations is ensured by a proactive and constructive contribution made by the Russian and Kazakhstani regions. Direct interregional contacts are becoming increasingly intense and diverse every single year.

Thus, between January and October, more than 50 Russian regional delegations visited Kazakhstan and dozens of business missions, youth projects, scientific, educational and cultural events were organised.

I want to stress that regional exchanges account for around 70 percent of bilateral trade, which we have already mentioned. The Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Orenburg regions are the most proactive Russian regions when it comes to trade. The annual trade turnover between each of these three regions and their Kazakhstani partners is worth around $1 billion.

The Republic of Altai, the Astrakhan, Samara and Kurgan regions are also expanding cooperation with Kazakhstan. In total, 76 regions of the Russian Federation established contacts with 14 Kazakhstani regions as well as two administrative centres, Astana and Almaty.

We are constantly improving the legal framework of interregional cooperation through more than 400 agreements and memorandums. Following this forum a number of documents will be signed.


This forum is devoted to the development of tourism between Russia and Kazakhstan. I believe this sector of our bilateral cooperation is very interesting and highly promising.

The tourism sector has a vast economic potential, brings considerable revenues to the federal and local budgets, creates jobs and stimulates small and medium-sized businesses. A great deal is being done in Russia to promote domestic and inbound tourism.

I would like to say that in May we adopted a relevant concept for a period until 2025. It is designed to make the tourism sector effective and highly profitable and give an additional impetus to the socioeconomic development of the regions.

A number of new and attractive resorts, recreation areas and treatment centres are being created in Russia to become the core of tourist clusters. This will certainly benefit our regions, including those that border on Kazakhstan.

By the way, we are implementing several large Russian-Kazakhstani tourism projects. These include the Greater Altai international tourism festival and The Golden Mountains of Altai travel itinerary, which are attracting an increasing number of tourists and are developing into regional tourist brands.

The tourist exchanges between our two countries are growing thanks to these initiatives. Some 3.6 million people travel from Kazakhstan to Russia and some 3 million from Russia to Kazakhstan every year.

I am confident that these figures will continue to grow if our regions introduce novel and increasingly attractive types of tourism, such as cultural tourism.

Just for the record, today we have gathered in Petropavlovsk, a city that can be described as the symbol of centuries-long friendship between Russian and Kazakhstani people. It features a lot of cultural and historical landmarks of both Russia and Kazakhstan.

In general, our countries have rich histories, and are located at the crossroads of ancient routes between Europe and Asia. In this context, we could develop transit routes that would introduce visitors to the national historical and cultural values, traditions and customs of our countries.

There are good opportunities for event tourism as well, first and foremost, due to the upcoming 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. We believe it is important to encourage people to visit landmark and memorial sites in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as those located in other CIS countries.

The natural potential of Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s border regions, primarily Northern Kazakhstan and the Altai Republic, offer the greatest prospects for innovative projects in the spheres of sports and recreational tourism.

Together, Russia and Kazakhstan started developing marine-based tourism, introducing Caspian Sea cruises that feature stops in Astrakhan, Derbent and Aktau, as well as Baku, Turkmenbasy and Iranian ports. The first of these comfort-class cruise liners is currently being built by Russian companies.

Of course, in order to implement all of these new projects in practice, we need to coordinate the efforts of federal and regional authorities and the business community. Together, we need to modernise transport infrastructure, including air and road infrastructure, invest in the hotel industry, further improve the quality and competitiveness of tourism services and make information about tourism opportunities more widely available. Of course, we should also support the relevant business and public initiatives.

We discussed all these issues of Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation in tourism and various other spheres in detail during the events held as part of the forum. I understand that today ministers and heads of our two countries’ regions will expand on the results of their work and the agreements that they have reached.

I would like to thank Mr Nazarbayev and all forum participants for their active and engaged collaborative work. Next year, it will be Russia’s turn to host the bilateral interregional forum. I would like to invite you all to the Siberian city of Omsk.

Thank you for your attention.


Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

My concluding remarks will be very brief. I would like to repeat what the President of Kazakhstan has just said. He whispered in my ear: “Why should we travel anywhere when we have so much beauty here?”

Of course, the world is full of attractive places. There are world famous tourist destinations such as Rome, Paris and other large cities, Venice, and many more.

We in Russia have St Petersburg, a city of the same class, no less, and maybe even better in some respect, but of course, no other country has such natural diversity as Russia and Kazakhstan; this is obvious.

Today, as a Kazakhstani colleague of ours has said, the world is getting more interested in environmental tourism and event tourism. People from all over the world strive to see unique and environmentally clean places.

In this regard we are the richest people on earth, without exaggeration. We just need to work hard and to take advantage of this trend, to bring enjoyment to our people, promote our countries and develop the economy. We have everything we need for this.

I would like to thank Mr Nazarbayev for initiating our meeting today to discuss the development of tourism. I wish success to all of you. Thank you for your participation.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: Thank you for your remarks and your proposals on the matter at hand as well as regarding the host city of the next, 16th forum of interregional cooperation. We will prepare for it.

Today we had a constructive and businesslike conversation. We discussed topical issues and tourism opportunities in our countries.

The parties held an interesting exhibition showing achievements and new opportunities in this area. Of course, it could not include everything, but what is on display is very interesting.

In addition, 25 interregional documents and commercial contracts were signed yesterday on the sidelines of our forum. I believe the forum will give a significant boost to bilateral relations and will expand the scope of our cooperation.

Considering everything I have said, Mr President, I suggest we give our governments the following instructions.

First, we must strengthen the coordination of our actions to develop the necessary tourism and transport infrastructure. The relevant bodies, especially governments, must look into this and work out a joint roadmap to develop the road, rail and air transport (so that no one would fly to Kazakhstan via Omsk). It is very important to monitor the potential of tourist flows and provide concrete measures of state support.

Second, we must create conditions for the most comfortable border control procedure for tourists. The infrastructure of the checkpoints and their technical equipment on the Russian-Kazakhstani border do not match the intensity of the flow of people and vehicles yet. It is important for our countries’ governments to address these issues together.

Third, we must develop the architecture for tourism cooperation with the neighbouring Caspian Sea countries by simplifying the visa and migration regime. As the President of Russia said in his speech, cruise liners will operate there, which is very important. Together with our neighbouring countries – Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran, we can get very large tourist flows around the Caspian Sea.

Our neighbours have already begun to explore the Caspian region’s potential. We should step up our efforts to develop mutually complementary leisure and recreation infrastructure in the Caspian region.

Fourth, we should take measures to promote the potential of our medical and educational centres as we have discussed and demonstrated today.

Fifth, we should jointly develop space tourism at such unique places in the world as the Baikonur Space Centre launch pads. By the way, today we heard a report about joint Russian-Kazakhstani work carried out at the new Baikonur launch pad. I think we can develop tourism there as well.

Some of these issues are included (with the ministers responsible for the development of tourism) in the joint plan for next year.

Sixth, this year the Astana International Financial Centre has started operating, following the EXPO 2017. It is a unique alternative to such financial centres as London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Unprecedented conditions have been created there. Its participants enjoy tax benefits and simplified currency, visa and employment regimes. The principles of English law and the English language are used in the centre’s work.

Both residents and non-residents can take part in the AIFC. The shareholders of the stock exchange and the international financial centre include NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, the Shanghai Stock Exchange and others.

As of today, the AIFC is already carrying out its first deals on the placement of NPE sovereign Eurobonds in Kazakhstan; Kazatomprom is the first.

In order to boost the centre’s successful development as a business tourism destination, the transport accessibility of Astana is improving, with new direct flights operating to large cities of the world, including financial centres.

We invite you to take part in the centre’s work, which is a unique platform in our region providing broad access to capital as well as a wide range of financial services and investment tools. By the way, we can also find the money to develop tourism there.


November 9, 2018, Petropavlovsk