The prospects of Russia and Kazakhstan within Eurasian integrational project were discussed in Moscow State University. The Counselor of the President of Kazakhstan Ermukhamet Ertysbayev expressed his opinion on this issue during the interview for the TV-channel “Russia-24”.
Host: Ermukhamet Qabidenuly, good day. I’m really glad you have found a possibility to visit us today in this studio.
Ertysbayev: Good day.
Host: And probably, for a start we’ll talk about the Eurasian Union. Today in Russia they more often talk about deeper integration within the CIS territory with further extension to West and East. But we don’t clearly understand what our neighbor thinks about it. Tell us please, which prospects Kazakhstani people observe regarding the Eurasian Union?
Ertysbayev: Today I visited Moscow State University, had a speech during a panel discussion, devoted to the subject of the Eurasian Union and felt deeply satisfied that it was exactly in MSU where in March 1994 our President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev for the first time introduced the idea of the Eurasian Union, and 15 years after his idea is turning into reality. The Customs Union has been operated for already 2 years, and since January 1st, as you know, Common Economic Space has started its activity. The results are impressive. Only for 9 months this year the overall goods turnover of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan has increased for 40 bln USD. It’s 111% higher comparing with 2011.
It means that it took only to eliminate administrative barriers, introduce single customs tariff, open 170 mln market for Russian, Belarusian and Kazakhstani businesses, and immediately business-community has started working in this direction. Naturally, problems occur. It is a problem of competitive ability of goods, there is a problem of damping, remains of administrative barriers, but the Customs Union works and is very attractive. I was in East European countries: Czechia, Hungary, Poland and local businessmen observe not the European Union but the Customs Union with great interest. That is why the idea of our two Presidents, which by the way, gained powerful support of electorate in April last year in Kazakhstan (one of the most important points in the election program of our President was integration), and as far as I know in his election campaign Vladimir Putin focused especially on this issue, and keeps on working in this direction. That is why our peoples want to integrate, businessmen want to work. I think, the prospects of the Eurasian Union, which by 2015 shall be formed, are quite positive.
Host: And which model of the Eurasian Union is the most preferable for Kazakhstan?
Ertysbayev: The Eurasian Economic Union. First of all economic, this is also the opinion of the authorities, state-political elite and the Parliament of the country. We shouldn’t make the mistakes of the past, when policy was ahead of economy. When we make economic efficiency as prior, mutually beneficial cooperation, enhancement of people’s well-being, and these all shall be provided by the Customs union and the future Eurasian Union, then the project shall become extremely attractive for other states. Recently “Russian business-paper” held a sociologic poll, by this about 15 thousand of respondents were covered in Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and other post-soviet states. More than a half of respondents treated the Customs Union quite positively and would like their countries to join it. That is why I would like to underline once again, future the Eurasian Union shall be competitive.
Clear timeframes have been set: 2015 and I think that by this time it shall be finalized. I know that now Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are eager to join the Customs Union, but there is a definite procedure for this. I’d like to underline once again, that only integration will make us compatible within international arena.
Host: Ermukhamet Qabidenuly another important economic task of Kazakhstan is the second privatization wave, which should assist promotion of competition within country’s economy. How is it suppose to be carried out, which units are subjected to privatization?
Ertysbayev: In Russia and Kazakhstan (we still have the Common Economic Space) the second privatization wave has come (the first one was performed in 90-s), that is why the role of the state in market economy has once again grown significantly, as well as the role of interference of the state in various spheres of market mechanism operation. There is a law on competition in Russia as well as in Kazakhstan, which limits interference of the state into economy, and this interference, by the way, is a nourishing ground for the same corruption, laws violation and in this situation entrepreneurs are not able to compete with big national state companies. That is why we should revise Russian and Kazakhstani laws and strictly limit interference into market economy. We need to provide a broad field for activity of business communities of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus. I guess that the main person in the Eurasian Union should not be an official. The Eurasian Union should be created not from the top, but by the person of labor, person undertaking, an entrepreneur should be the main person of the Eurasian Union.
Host: Ermukhamet Qabidenuly in the end of the last year in west of Kazakhstan in Janaozen city mass protest actions of oilmen were held, they were dissatisfied with their social security, salaries, actions turned into pretty serious disturbances. Now the situation has been managed, how active is the construction of new objects, attraction of investments into the region?
Ertysbayev: For this year, we‘ve done a lot, established a governmental commission, invested quite big funds into Janaozen, into social infrastructure. I’ll remind, that it was a labor conflict between the labor union of oilmen and the founder, but unfortunately, destructive political forces interfered into the conflict and started aggravating tension. The strike lasted from May till July, by the decision of the court it was recognized as illegal and that moment these destructive forces actively involved into the conflict and started not just agitation and propaganda, but active violation of the Article 5 of the Constitution which prohibits incitement of social hatred. As a result this ended with extremely negative events, victims. Court processes were held, where all the initiators were revealed. By the way, to my opinion it was with no prejudice. The Government and local authorities did a great job in Janaozen, the situation was completely stabilized.
Host: Yet in 2011-2012 a series of terrorist attacks in cities of Kazakhstan took place, and you held 5 anti-terror operations. What is going on in Kazakhstan, who is behind all these terrorist attacks?
Ertysbayev: Specificity, of this so-called Kazakhstani terrorism… I say “so-called” as it is of not mass phenomenon, these were single events and thorough analysis showed, that former convicted people, that those were once imprisoned people. Control weakened a bit when penal system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was passed to the Ministry of Justice, and religious extremists penetrated into it, and led corresponding processing, propaganda. In reality religion is a cover mostly for criminals who were released and then arranged gangs. But our law enforcement bodies, the State Security Committee held five mentioned anti-terrorist missions. No civilian was hurt. Usually when they (gangs) were surrounded, it was suggested to surrender, and in reply they opened fire and elimination mission followed according to all international rules. Last months the situation in this matter has completely stabilized, there are suggestions to create anti-terror commissions in each region in order to consolidate the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, General Prosecutor’s Office, and Ministry of Justice. People are quite concerned about this problem, but I’ll repeat once again, we control this issue and we pray for the kind of events not to happen in Kazakhstan anymore.
Host: Ermukhamet Qabidenuly, in the end of our conversation I would like to touch upon one more issue. Recently in Turkey Nursultan Nazarbayev declared, that Kazakhstan for almost century and a half has been a Russian colony, and has barely lost its national traditions, customs, language and religion for this time. How does this declaration correlate within development of our bilateral relations?
Ertysbayev: Our President had a speech at Turkish-Kazakhstani business-forum and 99% of the time he devoted to the propaganda of attractiveness of the Customs Union, invited Turkish business to cooperate actively with the Customs Union. As for his evaluations of already past historic epoch, I’ll tell you as a historian, that beginning from 1721 the official name of the Russian state was the Russian Empire. And if you look through a Big Soviet Encyclopedia or modern Wikipedia you’ll find such definitions as “Russian colonial policy”, Russian territorial expansion”. In general Russian centralized state was being established with constant extension, as Russian politicians then said that it strived to gain its natural boarders. And a phrase “Russian possessions in Middle Asia” wasn’t our invention. That is why I think we should perceive calmly the estimations of gone historic epoch, and live now and think of future. The most important, is that now Russian-Kazakhstani relations regarding bilateral relations, are the most perfect in the world. There are no other two countries in the world which would so good-neighborly so efficiently cooperate as Russia and Kazakhstan at the moment. And our President for all 20 years of independence has said that Russia is the strategic partner №1 and that Kazakhstan has achieved great successes in market reforms, and that we’ve got 85 bln USD in a national fund – and this is due to good-neighbor, brother relations with the Russian Federation. I think that it’s better to leave the issue for professional historians, and we politicians, journalists, people should value and concrete those important and best things within our relations.
Host: Thank You!