MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev underscored on Thursday the potential for greater cross-border cooperation, pledging to increase bilateral contacts during an interregional forum in the Siberian city of Omsk.
“Last year trade increased by more than 14 percent while investments in large projects continue to grow,” Putin said at the opening of the 16th Russia–Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum.
The Russian leader stressed the importance of cooperation among the regions of both countries that share a 7,500 kilometer-long border.
President Tokayev noted that trade between the regions of Russia and Kazakhstan has exceeded 10 percent of Kazakhstan’s total trade volume, and described the data as “very significant.”
“That figure is increasing, we have achieved great successes in cooperation in the industrial and agricultural sectors,” he said.
Tokayev, who is participating for the first time in the interregional forum as president of Kazakhstan, also underscored the progress of bilateral contacts in the energy field.
During the forum, the Russian Minister of Economic Development, Maxim Oreshkin, recalled that interregional cooperation between the two countries affects the lives of 25 million people living in 12 territorial entities in Russia and seven in Kazakhstan.
The population of Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-largest country, is around 18 million.
The Russian-Kazakh forum to strengthen cooperation among regions has been held annually since 2003. The next gathering is scheduled for 2020 in Kazakhstan.