Turkey, Kazakhstan take step for strategic partnership - Nursultan Nazarbayev

Turkey, Kazakhstan take step for strategic partnership - Nursultan Nazarbayev

The presidents of Kazakhstan and Turkey on Thursday signed a strategic partnership agreement, with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggesting that the two countries were already strategic partners even before the signing of the deal, Today's Zaman reported.

Nazarbayev, who arrived in Ankara on Wednesday evening for an official visit at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, was speaking at a joint press conference following his talks with Gül at the Çankaya palace.

Turkey recognized Kazakhstan on Dec. 16, 1991, the same day Kazakhstan declared its independence. Recalling Turkey's swift recognition of his country's independence, Nazarbayev underlined that their bilateral relations have always been positive since then, with no problems at all and cooperation in almost every field.

The visiting president cited Turkey's Muslim, secular and democratic characteristics as an advantage, while praising Turkey's regional efforts. Noting that the two countries had just signed a strategic partnership, Nazarbayev said the strategic aspect of the partnership between Ankara and Astana has always been there.

"We have much more to do in cultural and historical areas and in the Turkic world for the next generations," he said, noting that he believes bilateral agreements would help improve already good relations.

In response to a question, the Kazakh president said the amount of Turkish investment in Kazakhstan since 1993 has been around $1 billion, while Kazakh investment in Turkey during the same period of time has been $4 billion.

"This amount is not sufficient for the two sibling countries. Kazakhstan has so far attracted $25 billion in investment. In the case of Turkey, investment is around $1 billion," Nazarbayev said. Ankara and Astana aim to increase the annual trade volume between the two countries to $5 billion from the current $2.5 billion.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül (R) signed a strategic partnership agreement with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Thursday. Nazarbayev then addressed Parliament.

"Relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan cannot be measured in money. Our confidence in Turkey cannot be measured with any kind of monetary value. Of course, we still have much to do," he continued, reiterating his country's support of the transportation of Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey.

Noting Turkey's desire to become a transit country in the energy field, he added, "The transport of Kazakh oil and gas through Turkey will work in favor of both Kazakhstan and Turkey." The Kazakh leader is accompanied on his trip to Turkey by a large delegation of ministers and businesspersons, reflecting his eagerness to develop economic and commercial ties between his country and Turkey.

In an interview with a small group of Turkish journalists held ahead of his visit, Nazarbayev expressed his country's willingness to supply oil to a pipeline transporting Caspian crude oil to Western markets through Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan while hailing the current course of affairs in bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Turkey. "Overall, Turkey and Kazakhstan are engaged in strategic cooperation in both the international and regional arenas.

In other words, the two countries have been supporting each other's policies. I believe this relationship will further increase to a higher level with my visit," Nazarbayev said.

Following his talks with Gül, Nazarbayev attended a luncheon hosted in his honor by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Later in the day, he had talks with Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin and addressed Parliament.

In his address, when Nazarbayev recalled that earlier this month a memorial for the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was inaugurated in Astana at a ceremony with his participation, he was enthusiastically applauded by members of Parliament.

Summarizing his country's evolution since gaining independence, Nazarbayev underlined that all along this process "they have received support from brotherly Turkey."

"We are also happy with Turkey's successes," he said, citing Turkey's regional role as well as its economic achievements. "Turkey has turned into a country with a big power in global politics. Its role in resolving conflicts will continue," he added, noting his country's support for Turkey's policy of zero problems with neighbors.

"We support Turkey's membership in the European Union. We believe that being a strategic partner with Russia and assuming a balanced policy toward China will increase Turkey's prestige," Nazarbayev said.

Nazarbayev is expected to attend the Turkish-Kazakh Business Forum, which will be held in İstanbul today with a strong showing by both Kazakh and Turkish businesspersons.

Also today, the Dialogue Eurasia Platform (DA), which aims to build bridges among Eastern European and Central Asian countries with which Turkey has had historical, religious and linguistic connections for centuries, will decorate Nazarbayev with an award for his "vast experience as a statesman, impressive courage, leadership, unifying policy, tolerance and contribution to world peace." A award ceremony will be held today at the Joint Administration of Turkic Culture and Art (TÜRKSOY) in İstanbul.

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