NAZARBAYEV ON WORLD ECONOMY, INTEGRATION AND “COLOR REVOLUTIONS” IN RUSSIAN TV
On April 25, President Nazarbayev was interviewed by one of Russia’s leading television channels, Russia 24. Two weeks before the inauguration of Vladimir Putin as the country’s new president, the Kazakh leader shared his vision about the future of the world economy, the prospects of integration on the post-Soviet space and his understanding of common challenges for regional security in Central Asia.
According to Nazarbayev, the joint efforts of three post-Soviet countries – Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus – aimed at further developing economic and trade relations and creating a common competitive market will only contribute to the strengthening of their sovereignty. Nazarbayev believes that this integration project has every chance of being successful, because the peoples of the three countries share the same language and lived together within the same state for several decades. He also recalled that older generations still cherish similar notions of interstate friendship and urged his colleagues to have their respective countries contribute to the establishment of new promising bridges between people of a younger age.
In Nazarbayev’s view, the creation of a strong common market with almost 170 million potential consumers serves as a credible guarantee against any future financial crisis, especially ones “imported” from abroad as a result of constantly growing interdependency between nations and regions. “If we manage to boost the purchasing power of our populations, this [common] market may be regarded as self-sufficient. Thus, we will no longer have to seek help elsewhere in difficult times, but will be able to trade within the Customs Union and develop”, Nazarbayev said.
Although the Kazakh president appeared convinced that the current Eurozone crisis will not destroy the historic links between Europe’s nations, he believes that the decades-long policy of unrestricted borrowing lies at the heart of today’s political and economic problems in the EU. Nazarbayev thinks that the European lesson may be a good one for Moscow, Astana and Minsk in their quest for optimal formulas to institutionalize an economic partnership without compromising its long-term viability. He also expressed the wish that further integration between the three countries should be pursued with maximum caution, so as to convincingly demonstrate that it is based on the principle of equality. “When all our agreements become laws by 2015, we will adopt additional instruments and ratify them. This economic area will be free and transparent to everybody, and then we can speak of creating a Eurasian Union,” Nazarbayev concluded.
As regards the evolution of the world economy, the Kazakh President told his interviewer that the current economic crisis would sooner or later give way to major transformations privileging environmentally friendly growth and new industrial technologies. Nazarbayev believes that the next stage of economic development will be based on the concept of “green economy,” free of most sources of pollution. “This is why we are trying to develop at home alternative sources of energy. Kazakhstan is now making efforts to build solar panels and windmills, despite our huge resources in oil and gas,” Nazarbayev said. Concluding his comments on the issue of future economic changes at the global level, Kazakhstan’s leader suggested that the slogan of this new century should be “the future is born in laboratories”.
Finally, Nazarbayev gave his opinion on the regional situation in Central Asia. According to the Kazakh leader, the Ukrainian, Kyrgyz and Georgian experiences have already shown that so-called “color revolutions” cannot guarantee political stability and usually play a negative role in terms of economic progress. “Kyrgyzstan is in a state of permanent revolution, but ordinary people’s lives are not improving. Ukraine is a huge country of 50 million people, three times bigger than Kazakhstan, with larger economic capacities. However, Kazakhstan’s and Ukraine’s economic outputs have equaled, and this is surprising! We could not think about it before. They have lost their development because of stagnation during the last 7 to 10 years, despite being closer to Europe and warm seas,” Nazarbayev explained. He also skeptically assessed the outcomes of the “rose revolution” in Georgia, which brought to power its current pro-Western leader Mikhail Saakashvili. Nazarbayev deplored Georgia’s growing dependence on foreign loans and its reticence to join other post-Soviet republics in their integration efforts. In his interview, the Kazakh President admitted that several attempts to stage another “color revolution” had been orchestrated in Russia in the run-up to the March presidential election, but they failed because of people’s weariness of constant shocks.
Commenting on common challenges, Nazarbayev warned against the danger of drug trafficking, which has become a serious problem across Central Asia: “I don’t see any threat of foreign intervention today; there are no grounds for that. A threat may come from the south […]. There has never been such intense drug trafficking as in recent years”, he concluded.