ASTANA – Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan met in the Kazakh capital May 31 as the council of heads of member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). They discussed issues of deepening contacts with such integration partners as the European Union (EU), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ways to cooperate under the current conditions of the economic crisis.
“Last year, we signed the first agreement on forming a free-trade zone with Vietnam. Today we have discussed the issues of closer cooperation with China, India, Israel, Egypt, Iran, Cambodia and other countries. We also consider an opportunity of establishing trade and economic relations between the EAEU and such integration organisations as the EU, SCO, ASEAN and others,” Nazarbayev told his counterparts as they assembled in the Akorda presidential residence.
He stressed the EAEU should become a transparent community which is well-integrated into the world economic system and representing the reliable bridge between Europe and Asia.
Putin noted he welcomes Kazakhstan’s initiative to hold an international conference on establishing interaction between the EAEU and EU.
“We know that the interest in our economic union is growing worldwide. We also expand our international contacts. I proposed to announce this year as the year of deepening of economic relations of the EAEU with third countries and key integration organisations,” added Nazarbayev.
Atambayev highlighted the EAEU’s accomplishments in its relatively-short history.
“The EAEU was established in May 2014. De facto, the union has operated for an even shorter period of time. However, we can see that it has enormous potential. Absolutely, we already have results and success. Also, we have failures and artificially-created problems. We have to clearly understand that our peoples don’t have another choice. We are responsible for the future of the Eurasian Economic Union, for the future of our states. We need the diligence and patience, wisdom and cooperation of our peoples and the heads of states, as well as all ministries and state bodies. I trust in the future of the EAEU,” Atambayev said.
“In spite of the fact EAEU is a young organisation and the economic difficulties that we have in the process, we can state that the EAEU is a complete integration product. Now, our economies are working and improving in accordance with the plans and terms we outlined in the EAEU agreement,” he added.
Nazarbayev indicated EAEU governments and businesses are now gaining the required experience in terms of cooperation with each other.
“Internal issues of cooperation are mostly settled. I am confident that implementation of the tasks we set and observance of the principles of our union will be a good impetus for the economies of our countries,” he said.
“The EAEU common market has to become a link between the East and West. Free movement of goods and services within the union meets the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt S programme announced by the Chinese president. It is planned that the project will include those cooperation spheres that represent the economic benefit and mutual interest for our countries,” he added.
The Kazakh President said his nation has built a reliable platform for interregional cooperation by implementing infrastructural projects under the Nurly Zhol programme. Construction and modernisation projects such as the Western Europe-Western China highway, Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Persian Gulf railroad, an international seaport on the Caspian shore and the Kazakhstan logistics terminal functioning in the Chinese port of Lianyungang are underway.
Nazarbayev suggested the EAEU countries look for additional ways for cooperation under the current conditions of the economic crisis.
“The negative things that are now happening in the world economy are a challenge for all of us and they require more efforts from us using the EAEU platform. Our commission, governments, all of us have to look for additional opportunities because the situation is tough. We have a rapid downfall of mutual trade now and thus we have to find another way for our cooperation,” he said.
Putin noted the recent inking of certain documents.
“The EAEU commission signed memorandums of mutual understanding with the governments of Mongolia, Peru and Chile. We also plan to sign trade agreements with Serbia. The agreements on cooperation with South Korea, Ecuador and Mercosur are being drafted now. Iran, India, Israel and Egypt are also interested in the establishment of close ties with the EAEU,” he said.
“The Eurasian Economic Commission should be actively involved in this issue. I would like also to praise the support rendered by the EAEU business council. In my opinion, this area of work is very important. As you know, Viktor Khristenko has been recently appointed its chairman. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to our next meeting in December in Moscow,” he added.