Andrey Yatskin: Russia-Kazakhstan interregional cooperation gathers pace with each passing year

The Federation Council delegation has taken part in the 18th session of the Commission for Cooperation between the Federation Council and the Senate of Kazakhstan.

The Federation Council delegation has taken part in the 18th session of the Commission for Cooperation between the Federation Council and the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The delegation included Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security, Deputy Co-Chair of the Commission’s Russian part Viktor Bondarev, First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Andrey Denisov, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on the Budget and Financial Markets Andrei Yepishin, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy Irek Yalalov, member of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Oleg Tsepkin, and member of Federation Council Committee on Federal Structure, Regional Policy, Local Government and Northern Affairs Alexander Vysokinsky.

First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Andrey Yatskin and Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbayev opened the commission’s meeting. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Kazakhstan Alexei Borodavkin also took part in the opening ceremony.

The commission made a substantial contribution to developing relations between Russia and Kazakhstan and discusses topical matters during its meetings, Andrey Yatskin and Maulen Ashimbayev said in their opening remarks. They went on to emphasise that relations between the Federation Council and the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan can be described as humane, friendly, and neighbourly.

Maulen Ashimbayev sought to reassure the Russian delegation that Kazakhstan’s Senate remained committed to further strengthening cooperation with the Federation Council. He thanked the Federation Council Speaker for her personal contribution to promoting inter-parliamentary cooperation within the CIS and accepted her invitation to pay an official visit to the Russian Federation in 2023, which is expected to include the signing of the Plan (Roadmap) of Initiatives for Promoting Bilateral Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation in 2023–2025.

Andrey Yatskin focused in his remarks on the state of and prospects for developing Russia-Kazakhstan relations.

The Federation Council’s First Deputy Speaker said that inter-parliamentary cooperation was a major element of Russia-Kazakhstan relations. “Meetings among members of parliament offer an opportunity for discussing topical matters and exchanging views on the ongoing developments. The Commission for Cooperation between the Federation Council and the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Senate is our main tool. Every meeting devotes its agenda to discussing issues of mutual practical interest for our two countries. We want this inter-parliamentary commission to play an even greater role in Russia-Kazakhstan cooperation by working effectively and meeting on a regular basis to discuss topical matters on our bilateral agenda,” Andrey Yatskin said, before reassuring the participants in the meeting that the Federation Council attaches great importance to inter-parliamentary cooperation with the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“Our cooperation offers a solid foundation for promoting economic growth, as well as social, humanitarian and cultural development,” Andrey Yatskin pointed out.

He went on to say that efforts to facilitate trade and economic cooperation play a special role for the partnership to be effective. “We have been proactive in promoting cooperation in finance, investment, agriculture, the petrochemical industry, energy and space,” the First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council said. The overwhelming majority of Russian regions have trade and economic ties with their partners in Kazakhstan, he emphasised.

Andrey Yatskin said that the regions of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan have been making a substantial contribution to strengthening and diversifying bilateral ties. “We welcome the regions’ independent efforts and leadership,” he said.

The meeting’s agenda covered the state and prospects of Russia-Kazakhstan relations, expanding the transit and transport potential, promoting cooperation in education, stepping up cross-border cooperation, promising avenues for promoting closer ties, as well as efforts to facilitate cooperation on socioeconomic development.

Andrey Yatskin informed the participants that the Russian Federation will be hosting the next regular meeting of the Commission for Cooperation on its territory in the first half of 2023.

Secretary of State, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Dmitry Zverev delivered a presentation on efforts to expand the transit and transport potential. He said that the main objective for the two countries consisted of unleashing their shared transport potential by working together, driving down transport costs in the end-user prices, and making the transport system more attractive for shipping operators from third countries. “Our main objective for the medium-term is to develop transport corridors. Our efforts to expand crossing points have also been advancing ahead of schedule,” the Deputy Minister pointed out, adding that the relations between the transport ministries of Russia and Kazakhstan can serve as a positive model not only for EAEU countries, but for other countries too.

The commission’s co-chairs, Andrey Yatskin and Askar Shakirov suggested that the relevant ministries must oversee efforts to resolve all issues arising in relation to technical regulations and bridge crossings.

Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Natalia Bocharova talked about educational cooperation. She thanked her colleagues from Kazakhstan for working with Russia to enable two Russian universities to open their branches in the Republic of Kazakhstan within an unprecedently short timeframe. The Deputy Minister also highlighted several pending issues. In particular, the two sides have yet to sign a roadmap for promoting scientific and educational ties, because the colleagues from Kazakhstan have not shared their position on this matter so far. The two countries have not been able to ratify an intergovernmental agreement to this effect, which prevents several Russian technology universities, including the St Petersburg Electrotechnical University LETI, from opening their branches in Kazakhstan, while there is demand in Kazakhstan for professionals in this area of expertise. The project to open the Chelyabinsk State University’s branch in the Republic of Kazakhstan remains pending too.

The commission co-chairs agreed to step up parliamentary oversight efforts for resolving these issues as soon as possible.

Deputy Economic Development Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Volvach made a detailed presentation on region-to-region and cross-border cooperation.

During the commission’s meeting, Andrey Yatskin invited legislators from Kazakhstan to attend the 10th Neva International Environment Forum, which is scheduled to take place on 25 and 26 May in St Petersburg.

Andrey Yatskin had a bilateral meeting with Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbayev ahead of the 18th session of the Commission for Cooperation between the Federation Council and the Senate of Kazakhstan.

The visit included a trip to the Akmola Region with a tour of the ski base called Olympic Training Centre for Winter Sports, and a meeting with the region’s akim, the head of the local government.