Kazakhstan seeks to expand cooperation with Armenia - Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Photo: Akorda

Ahead of his visit to the Republic of Armenia, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has given an exclusive interview to Armenpress news agency.

- Mr. Tokayev, this September marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Armenia and Kazakhstan. How would you describe the current dynamics of the development of Armenian-Kazakh relations?

- This year is indeed special and symbolic for bilateral relations, marked by significant dates and meaningful developments. The fundamental interstate document adopted by Kazakhstan and Armenia in 1999, the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation, laid a reliable foundation for Kazakh-Armenian multilateral relations. Over these years, we have observed its provisions, continuously expanding and deepening the ties between our countries and peoples in every possible way.

At the current stage, relations between Astana and Yerevan are characterized by an open political dialogue, dynamic growth of cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, and comprehensive development of cultural and humanitarian contacts.

Our countries have accumulated positive experience of joint work on international platforms.

There is mutual support for our initiatives and candidacies when they are put forward in various international institutions. Close cooperation has been established within such multilateral platforms as the UN, CIS, EAEU, CSTO, OSCE, and others.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to wish success to the Armenian chairmanship in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Interparliamentary partnership is developing systematically. Interaction at the intergovernmental level is dynamically progressing.

The contractual and legal framework is gradually expanding. During my upcoming visit to Armenia, we will adopt a number of new documents.

Trade and economic cooperation establish the basis of relations between Kazakhstan and Armenia. Over the past five years, mutual trade has increased by 3.5 times. In 2023, turnover increased by 23 percent. Of course, trade volumes do not fully correspond to our potential, but there are objective reasons for this, related to the complex transport logistics between the countries. However, export-import opportunities indicate the presence of serious potential for significant expansion of mutual trade. A clear evidence of this was the recent business forum held in Yerevan with the participation of entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan and Armenia.

Here, the key institution of interstate interaction is the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. By the way, it has also been 25 years since its establishment.

We are firmly committed to further deepening and expanding our ties. A practical confirmation of our intentions is the decision to open additional offices of honorary consuls of Kazakhstan this year in the Ararat and Aragatsotn regions of Armenia.

I'm sure that the existing plans to establish sister city relations between Astana and Yerevan, as well as other cities, will also contribute to this.

The opening of direct flights on the "Aktau - Yerevan - Aktau" route in 2023 will promote the development of business cooperation and tourism. However, our plans to increase official and business trips require the establishment of direct air communication between the two capitals.

The cultural and humanitarian sphere is also of practical significance, encompassing art, sports, tourism, education, healthcare, and much more.

Overall, the level of Kazakh-Armenian relations, built on friendship, trust, and mutual understanding, aligns with the interests of both peoples. I am confident that, through joint efforts, we will be able to give a new impetus to the full spectrum of multifaceted relations between Kazakhstan and Armenia.

- Mr. President, how do you envision the future of Armenian-Kazakh cooperation? What priority areas of interaction would you highlight, particularly in terms of economic cooperation?

As I have already mentioned, there is great potential for further deepening cooperation in various fields. The socio-economic successes of the Republic of Armenia are commendable. Your country has achieved outstanding results in all key sectors of the economy, ensuring high rates of development among EAEU countries. This is confirmed by Armenia's GDP growth last year, which reached 8.7 percent, accompanied by the lowest level of inflation (consumer prices increased by only 2%)."

In this regard, we attach great importance to the further comprehensive development of economic ties. Today, our country is ready to increase the export of 70 products, including both raw materials and finished products, with a total value of 350 million dollars. These include products from the metallurgical, petrochemical, food processing, construction, and agricultural sectors.

Taking into account that until 2011, wheat was one of the leading products of Kazakh exports to Armenia, I consider it important to restore the supply of wheat and other food products to the extensive trade networks of Armenia. I believe that our Armenian partners also have similar proposals.

Industrial cooperation is also promising. It is important for us to establish joint projects connecting our countries.

Our investment cooperation requires intensive development and promotion. Today, a favorable investment environment has been created in Kazakhstan. All necessary instruments are available to support foreign investment.

We also see great opportunities in the field of digitization. Kazakhstan is pursuing a targeted policy to become one of the largest digital hubs in the Eurasian area. In just the last 3 years, the export of our IT services has tripled, reaching $500 million. By 2026, it should reach at least $1 billion.

An important factor in deepening economic cooperation is the establishment of profitable and efficient ground logistics between our countries. The expansion of air transportation will enhance mobility for businesses and citizens, opening up new opportunities in the tourism sector.

All the sectors I have mentioned should become integral components of economic interaction.

Directly addressing your question, I see the future of our relationship in the strict adherence to bilateral commitments and the expansion of legal-contractual field, strengthening of friendly ties and cooperation between our peoples, deepening of contacts in the trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres.

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