--Translation of advance text--
Foreign Minister Idrissov,
Ladies and gentlemen,
2012 has been an eventful and successful year for German-Kazakh relations. And it has been a memorable year, too, a year in which our two countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and numerous high-level visits underlined just how excellent and intensive our relations are.
President Nazarbayev’s visit in February 2012, I may recall, gave an important boost to our relations, and in the autumn we also welcomed Prime Minister Akhmetov and Speaker of Parliament Nigmatulin.
Minister Westerwelle was in Astana in August 2012, so I’m very pleased indeed at the start of 2013 to see Foreign Minister Idrissov make his inaugural visit to Germany to continue this fruitful dialogue between our two countries.
The progress Kazakhstan has made since its declaration of independence in 1991 is indeed impressive. It has become a respected member of the international community, a country that not only takes pride in what it has achieved but has also set itself ambitious goals for the future.
We have therefore noted with interest the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy which President Nazarbayev unveiled in December 2012.
Especially in the context of Central Asian and European security, the international community has high expectations of Kazakhstan as a bridge-builder between Europe and Asia.
Already on several occasions Kazakhstan has demonstrated its potential to become an exporter of security and stability throughout the region.
This goes not only for its key role with regard to Afghanistan.
Tackling the transboundary challenges confronting the whole region in the area of narcotics, organized crime, water and energy requires a joint and concerted approach. We are supporting Kazakhstan, also through the European Union’s Strategy for Central Asia, in its efforts to meet these challenges. As holder of the OSCE chairmanship in 2010 and organizer of the OSCE Summit in Astana, at which the establishment of a “Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community” was agreed, Kazakhstan has given ample proof of its willingness to help shape Europe’s future security system.
We are also following closely the economic integration process under way in the Eurasian Union. It is in our common interest, we believe, to ensure that the economic integration processes in the Eurasian Union and the European Union complement each other. An important and necessary requirement for real progress in all areas of development are democratic and rule of law structures. In its efforts to strengthen such structures Kazakhstan can count on Germany’s continued support.
Economic relations between our two countries are both close and multifaceted.
Kazakhstan is by far Germany’s most important trading partner and investment location in Central Asia.
Our already considerable bilateral trade continues to grow.
As a country rich in resources with a major need for foreign investment, Kazakhstan is an attractive partner for German business. I’m convinced there’s huge potential here still waiting to be tapped. In this connection a good investment environment will of course be crucial.
One outstanding result of German-Kazakh economic cooperation is the Agreement on Partnership in the field of Raw Materials, Industry and Technology that was signed nearly a year ago in Berlin in the presence of President Nazarbayev and Federal Chancellor Merkel.
The aim of this partnership is to promote the development and exploitation of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s natural resources by means of investment, innovation, delivery relationships and the transfer of technology.
It’s not only our political and economic ties, however, but also and especially our cultural ties that testify to the quality of German-Kazakh relations. The friendship and mutual understanding that exist between Kazakhs and Germans have their roots not least in the close ties our countries have forged in the field of culture and education.
Here a special role is played by the around 200,000 people of German descent in Kazakhstan, who serve as bridge-builders between our two countries.
I am particularly pleased to see the keen interest people in Kazakhstan have in the German language. Over the years the Goethe-Institut in Almaty has been very effective in fostering interest in Germany’s language and culture. Through our successful Partner School Initiative, the Federal Foreign Office is supporting eleven schools in Kazakhstan that offer German language teaching.
Another aspect of great importance is the cooperation between our two countries in the field of higher education. The German-Kazakh University in Almaty with its innovative degree courses is making a tremendous contribution here. And there are many other highly promising plans in the pipeline for cooperation between German and Kazakh universities.
Let me mention here just the forward-looking collaboration between Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Nazarbayev University and the partnership between Technische Universität München and Ust-Kamenogorsk Technical University.
You can see from these few examples just how excellent and closely meshed German-Kazakh ties are and what a success story we can look back on.
Building on this firm foundation, I’m sure that over the years ahead we can continue to strengthen and enhance our friendly relations for the benefit of people in both our countries.
Thank you for your attention.