ASTANA, July 7 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin who arrived in the Kazakh capital on Sunday to congratulate his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarvayev on his 73rd birthday took the opportunity to discuss most pressing issues of the international agenda, including the situation in Egypt and Syria, and also prospects for further Eurasian cooperation.
The two presidents discussed the aggravating situation in Egypt witnessing a sharp polarization of forces after the overthrow of President Mohammad Morsi by the military. In the past 24 hours alone, as many as 37 people were killed and about 1,500 hurt in clashes between Islamists and opponents of the ousted president.
The Russian president warned that Egypt is on the verge of civil war. “Syria is already embraced by the civil war, no matter how sorrowfully this sounds, Egypt is moving in the same direction. I would like the Egyptian people to avoid this fate,” he said.
Another topic of mutual concern was the situation in Afghanistan in connection with the upcoming withdrawal of the international coalition forces from that country. “This is also a very serious question, which I would like to discuss with you,” Putin told Nazarvayev. “Unfortunately, the events, which no one planned, occur sometimes. Certainly, there are some problems. We will try to solve them,” the Russian leader noted.
“Economic and political relations, the development of the events over the Customs Union, the Common Economic Space and the Eurasian Economic Union, which we will be creating next year - they are very intensive,” Nazarbayev noted.
Speaking about the Customs Union (of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan), Putin described it as “the largest step on the post-Soviet space towards integration.”
“We are feeling now that it is bringing some benefits, particularly this is important amid turbulent processes in the world economy,” the Russian president said. “In many countries the problems are growing, and they do not avoid us. But after all the relations of integration allow smoothing over some sharp corners somehow in the world economy that affect us.”
The two presidents also discussed issues of updating the basic treaty of cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev noted that he hoped the document would be signed at an interregional cooperation forum of the two countries’ border regions due to be held in Russia’s Yekaterinburg in October. “The amendments to the basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between our countries are prepared. Probably, we will be able to sign them in Yekaterinburg,” the Kazakh leader said.
Putin and Nazerbayev also discussed a range of bilateral cooperation issues, including joint space activities. The issue of the mutually beneficial use of the Baikonur space pad has been raised at Russian-Kazakh talks more than once in the recent time. On Sunday, it was once again raised by President Putin. It is not ruled out that the subject was brought to focus because of the recent abortive launch of the Proton carrier rocket with three GLONASS satellites.
Apart from that, the Kazakh leader informed his Russian counterpart about his recent visit to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
But the main occasion for Putin’s arrival in Astana was Nazarbayev’s birthday, which coincided with the Astana Day, which marks its 15th anniversary.
“Yesterday, you celebrated your birthday and the Day of the City [of Astana - Itar-Tass]. I would like to congratulate you on both of these occasions,” Putin said.
“You have done much for Kazakhstan, and I am sure you shall do much as well,” the Russian leader went on to say. He noted that President Nazrbayev was the actual founder of Astana. “The Day of the City, I believe, is your holiday. I know you treat this city as your own child,” Putin noted.
The Kazakhs leader thanked his Russian counterpart for his warm words. “Thank you for finding time in you busy schedule to congratulate me and to speak about our affairs. It is really touching,” Nazarbayev said. “You have arrived here from the Universiade. It was a really very beautiful opening.”