Kazakh, Swiss Presidents Discuss Trade and Ukraine in Astana
President of the Swiss Confederation and Chairperson-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Didier Burkhalter discussed with Kazakh officials economic cooperation with Kazakhstan and the OSCE’s response to the Ukrainian crisis during Burkhalter’s Nov. 20-21 visit to Astana.
Burkhalter met with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov. The parties discussed the ongoing Swiss chairmanship of the OSCE. Also a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
During Nazarbayev’s last visit to Switzerland in January, the two men agreed that their countries share the same positions on many global and regional security issues and agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation within international organisations.
During Burkhalter’s visit, the presidents discussed the OSCE’s priorities, particularly in terms of establishing peace in the Ukraine.
“This year required considerable efforts from the Swiss chairmanship of the OSCE, especially concerning settlement of the situation in Ukraine and other events [in the world]. Kazakhstan chaired the Organisation in 2010 and [during our chairmanship] the Astana Declaration was adopted. Our country has relevant experience, and we hope that it will be used,” Nazarbayev said.
During the meeting at the Akorda presidential residence, the two leaders also focused on cooperation in trade and economy, investment, education and culture.
Nazarbayev noted that relations between the two countries have great potential for development. He added that in the framework of Kazakhstan’s industrialisation policy, Swiss companies can participate in engineering, pharmacy, chemical and infrastructure construction projects.
Later on the first of day of his visit, Burkhalter met with Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov. The Kazakh diplomat confirmed that Astana supports the work of the Swiss OSCE chairmanship and appreciates its contributions to solving the problems facing the organisation.
Discussing the situation in Ukraine, Idrissov stressed that Kazakhstan is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Eastern European country through a national dialogue involving international mediation.
Speaking during the UN General Assembly in New York last September, Idrissov stated the position of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry in the following way: “It is in our interest that Ukraine remains a sovereign, stable and independent state. Kazakhstan is deeply concerned about the confrontation in which thousands of civilians have died. It has caused deep economic problems and a growing humanitarian crisis. From the outset, we have done all we can to stabilise the situation. Kazakhstan is clear in its belief that any conflict should be resolved peacefully.”
Astana continues providing practical assistance to stabilise the political situation in Ukraine. Within the framework of international organisations, Kazakhstan has provided $40,000 to support the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which has paid special attention to the implementation of agreements to stop combat actions. The special monitoring mission has been acknowledged as a relevant instrument of the OSCE, demonstrating the organisation’s effort to respond effectively and swiftly to crises.
On bilateral issues, Idrissov underlined that Kazakhstan considers Switzerland a reliable and important partner and is interested in long-term and beneficial cooperation. A high level of confidence in the political sphere was noted between Astana and Bern. The two sides commended dynamically developing bilateral trade and economic relations, as well as cooperation in the political sphere between Kazakh-Swiss inter-parliamentary groups.
Following the meeting, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding between the foreign ministries of Kazakhstan and Switzerland.
Switzerland is one of the largest trading partners and investors in Kazakhstan. Last year, trade turnover between the two countries was $4.5 billion. Since 2005, Swiss investments in the Kazakh economy have totalled more than $12 billion. Today, more than 40 Kazakh-Swiss joint ventures operate in Kazakhstan.