BRATISLAVA, February 6, 2019 - Strengthening political cooperation in OSCE activities and expanding trade and economic relations between Kazakhstan and Bratislava were major topics of discussion on 5-6 February 2019 in Bratislava between the Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko, and Slovak partners, including State Secretary of Slovakia's Foreign Ministry Lukáš Parízek, and the head of the inter-parliamentary friendship group Peter Marchek.
2018 was a landmark year in the history of Kazakh-Slovak relations, marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The first official visit of the Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini to Astana took place, as well as regular meetings of the Kazakh-Slovak Intergovernmental Commission on trade and economic cooperation and political consultations.
The parties noted with satisfaction that Kazakh-Slovak relations had gained new momentum following the visit of the head of the Slovakian government to Kazakhstan and his meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and talks with Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev. The importance of effective implementation of the bilateral agreements and maintaining the momentum of deepening political and economic cooperation was highlighted.
The sides emphasised that high-level meetings between the two countries will continue this year. In particular, Mr. Vassilenko discussed the upcoming visit of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, and Slovakian Foreign Minister, Miroslav Lajčák to Astana as part of his regional tour of Central Asia.
Mr. Vassilenko congratulated his Slovak colleagues on the beginning of Slovakia's chairmanship in the OSCE. “Kazakhstan supports the priorities of the Slovakian chairmanship, which, of course, will further strengthen the authority of the organisation. Collaboration with the OSCE is particularly significant for Kazakhstan, since Kazakhstan chaired this authoritative organisation in 2010 and continues to work actively with it," the Deputy Foreign Minister stated.
During a conversation with Mr. Lajčák, the Chairperson-in-Office expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan for supporting the Slovakian chairmanship of the organisation, reaffirming its intention to strengthen comprehensive cooperation.
The Kazakh diplomat spoke further about the initiatives of President Nazarbayev within the OSCE, aimed at ensuring integrated security across Eurasia. Mr. Vassilenko highlighted the International Conference on Security and Cooperation in 2020, which will be the 45th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. The parties agreed to intensify political dialogues and continue to provide mutual support on international platforms.
During the visit of the delegation to Bratislava, key attention was paid to enhancing trade, economic and investment cooperation. In particular, attracting investments to Kazakhstan and promoting domestic exports have become the main agenda of the Kazakh-Slovak business forum. The delegation met with the Director of the Foreign Trade Department of the SARIO Investment and Trade Agency, Tibor Bucek, and the Director of Economic Department of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, Viktor Boretsky.
Speaking at the business forum, Mr. Vassilenko focused on the importance of increasing cooperation in priority sectors of the economy. “Today Kazakhstan has set itself the goal of becoming one of the 30 most developed countries in the world, and we are taking comprehensive measures to modernise the country's economy, improving investment policy, production and transport infrastructure, and therefore, broad prospects are opening up for Slovak businesses. We are interested in partners willing to trade and invest in the creation of competitive value-added projects in Kazakhstan which are focused on export and efficiency," Mr. Vassilenko stressed.
The activities of more than 30 enterprises involving Slovak capital which operate in the Kazakh market were noted as an important indicator of the mutual interest of business communities of Kazakhstan and Slovakia. This includes the laser eye surgery Oftum, the energy supplier ELECTO, the chemical machinery companies KANTO METAL and CSBC, the diagnostic technologies supplier CME Slovakia, the pump and fittings producer IshPumpsOlomuc, and the meat processer PROGAST.
During the meetings with the heads of Slovak companies, promising projects in the field of agricultural processing, production of organic fertilisers, and the development of green and blockchain technologies were discussed.
The visit to Bratislava was combined with the Kazakh delegation's participation in the OSCE International Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, which was the first major event in Slovakia as OSCE Chairman. Speaking at the conference, along with Mr. Lajčák, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Ingibjörg Gisladottir and senior representatives of 57 OSCE participating States, Mr. Vassilenko briefed the participants on Kazakhstan's experience in building and strengthening inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and harmony over the years since independence.
The diplomat stressed that Kazakhstan is committed to the principles of religious and ethnic tolerance, which are fundamental to ensuring peace and harmony. “Since independence, Kazakhstan has been working to strengthen the culture of ethnic and religious harmony, which mostly values a person of any faith and tradition. This is one of our strengths and major achievements that we are justly proud of," he said. In his speech, the Kazakh diplomat also called on the participants to support joint efforts to eradicate prejudice and discrimination on religious grounds. It was noted that Kazakhstan is a common home for representatives of more than 100 different ethnic groups and religious denominations, including the Jewish community.
The conference participants showed particular interest in the results of the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, themed “Religious Leaders for a Safe World", held in 2018 in Astana. Mr. Vassilenko told the participants about the initiative of President Nazarbayev to create the Centre for the Development of Inter-confessional and Inter-civilisational Dialogue in Kazakhstan, which support the further development of the Congress.
During the visit, Mr. Vassilenko also gave in-depth interviews to leading Slovak media, in which he spoke about the ongoing development of the country, the foreign policy initiatives of President Nazarbayev, and the prospects for relations between Slovakia and Kazakhstan.