Nursultan Nazarbayev about global finance, western sanctions against Russia and Vladimir Putin
President Nursultan Nazarbayev has run Kazakhstan since 1989. Kazakhstan is one of the few Soviet republics, where the level of production exceeded the Soviet level, and hence the income of the population. Kazakhstan is neck and neck with Russia. While, for example, Ukraine's economy with per capita income, which in Soviet times was stronger than Russia's one, fell threefold from the Soviet level. Kazakhstan is our reliable partner in the Eurasian Economic Union, in the SCO and other joint projects. Recently I was in Astana and interviewed Nursultan Nazarbayev. We talked about relations with Russia, the forthcoming presidential elections and about Nazarbayev's relations with Putin.
V. Fadeev: Nursultan Abishevich, the first question will be about the Eurasian Economic Union. You already have got a lot of experience of work in this union. President Putin has taken the initiative to create a common electricity, oil, and petroleum products market. What were the advantages of Kazakhstan joining this union?
N. Nazarbayev: At first, we thought about it, as a close economic connection between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Before that, there was a hope that Ukraine would be with us. It would be great. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Trade between the EEU member states is growing: for the past year, for example, by about 30%, with Kazakhstan by 29%, with Russia it has grown by more than 30%. We have created a common commodity market, a common capital market, a common labor market. As for the main points of integration of energy and oil: since 2019 we plan to have a common electric power market,since 2025 - a common oil and gas market. But, in fact, it is slowly developing already now. The absolute need for these conditions in such integration associations is obvious.
V. Fadeev: Astana talks on the Syrian issue. Kazakhstan has shown that it is deeply and seriously involved in world politics. How well does your vision correspond with Vladimir Putin's vision?
N. Nazarbayev: For all these years, Kazakhstan has proven itself to be a peaceful state, trusted by all the states. In this regard, Vladimir Vladimirovich, together with the presidents of Iran and Turkey, appealed to turn Astana into a venue for negotiating between the government delegation and the Syrian opposition. And we provided them this opportunity. As you know, there have been 8 rounds. They were highly appreciated, because they were attended by those who did not participate in the Geneva talks. It was these talks that led to the de-escalation of conflicts, the cessation of the war in some places and the possibility of holding the Sochi forum. That is, Putin says that the decision must be diplomatic, and that's exactly what is being done. The whole point is that, unfortunately, the key players of world politics today cannot find a common language, there is no consensus, no trust between them. But in the future it should be restored. The world cannot live peacefully without it, without it there can be no agreements that we all need. The diversity of the world and the consideration of the opinions of many - I think this is the future.
V. Fadeyev: But in order to do it, one who considers himself to be one pole must recognize multipolarity.
N. Nazarbayev: That's what I'm talking about. But whether they admit it or not, they will have to come to this. It would be good if it happened sooner.
V. Fadeev: You have said many times that your personal relations with Vladimir Putin are very important. This is very interesting, how the relations between politicians cause the development of relations between countries.
N. Nazarbayev: Relations between the leaders of states are very important. As a rule, trust among leaders leads to trust between states. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was elected president in 2000, and from the first days we have had very good relations, which, I make no secret, turned into real friendship. Why? First, I've seen his work. A person who did not have experience as vast as I have under the Soviet Union and with the new policy came to this policy at the most difficult time for Russia.
Recall a recent situation, when the whole Russia actually disorganized the vertical of power, each region worked on its own. We are neighbors with Russia, we see that the regions stopped paying taxes to the center, everyone named his own salary, take all you want, there was a war in the Caucasus, and both the international and the domestic economic situation was truly awful. And he improved it, mastered all this under the most difficult conditions. Russia was ignored, not allowed to solve major world problems.
Russia cannot be pushed aside, it's a huge country with nuclear and missile capabilities, which plays a big role in world politics. That is, it was short-sighted to try to push Russia aside. But now Putin has put Russia in place, where it belongs. What a decision was made, the participation in this conflict at the request of the Syrian government. In fact, Russia participated in suppressing the world evil in the form of extremism and terrorism there.
V. Fadeev: And the risks were extremely high.
N. Nazarbayev: The risks were very high, indeed. And he had to decide. In the end, this participation was successful. That's who Putin is. In addition, I want to say about his human qualities. I dare say that, probably, I know it better then others. He is a man of his word. You know, Nikolo Machiavelli in his book 'The Prince' advises the princes how to work, there is a point in the book that the sovereign has the right to take this word back if it is in the interests of the state and this leader. Putin is not like that. If he said something, he says it after thinking it through, never changes this word, even if it is already unprofitable when one must do it. One can work with such a person and respect such a person. Russia is choosing its president. I think the people of Russia will choose the right person, who is needed for the prestige of Russia, for the future of Russia.