TBY talks to Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, on the strong ties between Kazakhstan and Turkey, increasing bilateral trade, and attractive sectors for investment in Kazakhstan.
How would you describe Kazakhstan's growing importance as a strategic partner for Turkey?
Relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan are deep rooted. This year we proudly celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. During these years, we have maintained mutual will to further develop our bilateral relations. Kazakhstan is one of our leading partners in Eurasia and we continue to strengthen our relations through various mechanisms. The establishment of the Joint Strategic Cooperation Council in 2011 is a testament to the importance of our relations. I am pleased to see the growing role of Kazakhstan on the international scene. Kazakhstan has made remarkable contributions to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts. I should also mention President Nazarbayev's praiseworthy initiatives to strengthen ties among the friendly and brotherly countries. I am confident Kazakhstan will further contribute to international peace and stability as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2017-2018 period. We will continue our cooperation with our Kazakh brothers in international fora.
What measures are being implemented to increase bilateral trade to USD10 billion?
I strongly believe that this target is realistic as Kazakhstan is our leading trading partner in Central Asia. As a matter of fact, we have the necessary economic and trade mechanisms between the two countries. For example, the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) provides a useful venue to explore the ways and means to further expand cooperation. The last JEC meeting in Ankara in March 2016 was fruitful. I should also mention the Joint Road Transportation Commission Meetings and Business Council Meetings as valuable instruments in this regard.
Which sectors of Kazakhstan's economy have the greatest potential for Turkish investment?
Kazakhstan's economic developments are on our radars. We not only support Kazakhstan's “Strategy 2050," which aims to place Kazakhstan among the world's top-30 developed economies, but are also ready to join hands with Kazakhstan to pursue that strategy. Turkish direct investments in Kazakhstan reached USD2 billion, which makes us the fourth-largest investor in Kazakhstan. The total volume of the 475 projects that Turkish contracting companies have thus far undertaken in Kazakhstan is around USD21 billion. We are confident that Kazakhstan's ongoing efforts to modernize the country's infrastructure, transportation, and logistics will further provide favorable conditions to attract foreign investments. Energy, mining, transportation and logistics, defense, agro-industry, health tourism, information communication technologies, and software in particular are promising areas of cooperation. Another area where we support Kazakhstan's efforts is its aspiration to become a regional hub for transport and logistics. In this regard, the Central Corridor through Caspian Sea will be instrumental in enhancing our trade relations. It would be mutually beneficial to connect the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to the Kazakh railway network through the Caspian Sea and Aktau Port.
How do you envision the future of bilateral relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan?
Suffice it to say, development and peace go hand in hand. We follow a foreign policy that takes initiative for peace and development. To that end, we are active at UN platforms, G-20, and many other international organizations with like-minded countries. Our bilateral relations will certainly be brighter and stronger. In the last 25 years, we have made many achievements to further and deepen our relations. Yet, there is still great potential. Both sides have the will and determination to strengthen ties. We look forward to holding the third session of the Joint Strategic Cooperation Council this year in Turkey. At this meeting, which will be held under the co-chairmanship of President Erdoğan and President Nazarbayev, we will review the current state of our relations and set new goals. Boosting our cooperation in mutual investment and increasing our trade volume are among our major goals. Furthermore, we will make every effort to enhance our cooperation in culture, education, and tourism. As we celebrate the silver jubilee in our diplomatic relations, I take this opportunity to convey the warmest greetings from the Turkish people to the people of Kazakhstan and wish many happy returns.