An interview with Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov visited Moscow last week. Masimov claims that Astana will participate in all gas pipeline projects that promise benefits to Kazakhstan.
Question: Negotiations are under way over construction of two gas pipelines across the territory of Kazakhstan - Caspian and trans-Caspian ones. Will Kazakhstan participate in both?
Karim Masimov: The declaration the presidents of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed specifies construction of the Caspian gas pipeline. Kazakhstan will be a transit country in this particular project. As for the trans-Caspian gas pipeline, no statements to this effect have been made.
Question: But Kazakhstan's participation in the trans-Caspian project was discussed at the talks in Poland and Kazakhstan did not turn it down so far as I know.
Karim Masimov: We are being practical, that's all. Gas will be exported to whatever is deemed better for the Kazakh people. Our agreements with Russia have reached the level where cooperation with it looks more promising.
Question: Are you saying that Kazakhstan is not going to participate in the trans-Caspian gas pipeline project?
Karim Masimov: No such gas pipeline exists at this point.
Question: Kazakhstan is one of the best developing post-Soviet economies. What are the largest investors in the Kazakh economy?
Karim Masimov. The United States is, followed by the European Union, Russia, and China. Meanwhile, domestic investments have already exceeded foreign ones.
Question: Will Kazakhstan be present at the St.Petersburg fuel stock exchange?
Karim Masimov: Kazakhstan was invited. The matter is being discussed now. Establishment of a fuel stock exchange in Russia, presumably in St.Petersburg, is what it is about. The idea is interesting indeed, and we are interested. On the other hand, we need exact proposals before we can say whether we want to be in or not. Generally speaking, however, we are definitely interested.
Question: Nursultan Nazarbayev suggests that Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan form something like the European Union. Is an alliance like that a possibility?
Karim Masimov: Our president has been suggesting post-Soviet integration regularly, ever since collapse of the Soviet Union. The first proposal to set up the Eurasian Union was made in 1994. By the way, even the first declaration concerning the Commonwealth of Independent States was adopted in Alma-Ata. There is also the Organization of Eurasian Economic Cooperation, there is the United Economic Zone... The Organization of Central Asian Cooperation that once existed is a part of the Organization of Eurasian Economic Cooperation now. Absolutely pragmatic economic interests are involved. I mean, we want as few barriers as possible, the barriers that interfere with free movement of commodities, capitals, and workforce. Economy will develop then. If something like that is possible on the basis of any existing structure, it will only benefit Central Asian peoples. Unfortunately, these barriers do exist nowadays. The situation with the Russian Federation is the best from this standpoint. There are practically no barriers between us.
Question: Kazakhstan participates in certain integration projects within the framework of the Commonwealth, Organization of Eurasian Economic Cooperation is one of them. Why establish another structure, Unistan as it was branded in the West, an organization Russia is not invited into?
Karim Masimov: Unistan is probably too much, you know. Reduction and removal of economic and trade barriers is what we are after. The prime minister of Russia and me met and talked things over, and I also met with the president of Russia. The way I see it, Russia and Kazakhstan must set an example of economic cooperation in the post-Soviet zone.
Question: What is Kazakhstan's opinion of the US military bases in Central Asia?
Karim Masimov: It's the domestic affair of every individual country. Kazakhstan is a member of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization. As such, it has no foreign military bases on its territory.
Question: And where has it been buying antiaircraft complexes? From the West or from Russia?
Karim Masimov: Wherever it is better for our country. It is better to buy them from Russia for the time being.
Question: A few words on the recent constitutional reforms in Kazakhstan, please. They enable Nazarbayev to be president as many times as he sees fit. Why?
Karim Masimov: Political changes and changes in the Constitution are considerable. Formerly a presidential country, Kazakhstan is a presidential-parliamentary republic now where the government is formed by the party of the ruling majority. As for your question, the amendment in question is essentially a carbon copy of Amendment 22 of the US Constitution: no president may be elected more for than two terms of office save for the acting president. If that is like the US Constitution, then it is a democratic procedure.
Question: President of Kazakhstan recently had his son-in-law Rahat Aliyev's name put on the list of wanted criminals. What effect will it have on the image of Kazakhstan?
Karim Masimov: Kazakhstan is a rule-of-law state where everyone is equal before the law regardless of his family or position. I'd say that these recent developments will have a positive effect on the image of our country. The president is the guarantor of the Constitution who makes no distinctions for anyone where the law is concerned. I think it will only improve Kazakhstan's image in the eyes of the international community.
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Kommersant, June 4, 2007, p. 2
Translated by Ferghana.Ru