Armenian businessmen must be active on promoting Armenian product in Kazakh market - Ambassador
YEREVAN, JULY 13, ARMENPRESS. Kazakhstan’s market has great opportunities, and the Armenian businessmen must be active on promoting the Armenian product in this market, Ara Sahakyan – Armenia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan said in an interview with Armenpress.
-Mr. Ambassador, how would you assess the current level of the Armenian-Kazakh relations?
-Since independence the Armenian-Kazakh relations in general are characterized as friendly and allied relations. Compared to the initial stage, these relations have developed, deepened and strengthened covering all possible spheres of inter-state relations. There is a constant political dialogue between the heads of our states, governments, foreign ministries and we must notice that they are deeper and progressive than it is between civil society structures. I mean the following: Armenia together with Kazakhstan is included in major integration economic structure such as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), in a military-political alliance such as the CSTO, they cooperate within the frames of the UN, OSCE, CIS and other international and regional organizations. Those are political, military-political, economic platforms of dynamic and multivector mutual partnership where exchange, agreement and coordination of stances, views on issues of bilateral interest are taking place.
And as for the trade-economic, humanitarian fields, the Armenian-Kazakh relations are not in accordance with the existing potential and the mutually trustable political and high level dialogue. The Embassy, of course, is making efforts to boost mutual trade turnover. The President of the Republic tasked the Armenian diplomatic missions in foreign countries to reach tangible results on boosting the diplomacy’s economic component. During the meeting of Ambassadors in March 2017 the Armenian Prime Minister gave the same task at practical-organizational level. Therefore, the development issues of bilateral economic ties are in the spotlight of our daily work: the Armenian foreign ministry attaches special importance to promotion of economic ties in the work of diplomats, as well as attraction of foreign direct investments, installation of latest technologies and innovations.
Last year the President of Kazakhstan was expected to arrive in Armenia on official visit, however, the visit was postponed due to his health problems. The visit is still in the agenda of bilateral relations. Armenia is ready to host the President of Kazakhstan.
-Mr. Ambassador, in your opinion, what kind of policy does Kazakhstan carry out in general?
-Kazakhstan runs an initiative foreign policy. There are many examples. Kazakhstan has been elected as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Armenia, as a friendly state, assisted its election.
We are happy for not only the economic progress of Kazakhstan, but also for ongoing large-scale programs, as well as efforts on solving social problems and fighting against corruption. Moreover, the public assistance to ambitious initiatives of the country’s political leadership is also noticeable. The political leadership in its turn assists the national awakening, religious tolerance, communication to modern educational standards and cultural values.
-You said that economic figures are not in accordance with the level of political dialogue. What figures do we have in terms of trade turnover between the two countries? What is the dynamics after joining the EAEU?
-According to the results of the previous year, the trade turnover volume amounted to 3.3 million USD, whereas in 2015 this number was nearly 5 million USD. Before the crisis period this figure was high and reached up to 20 million. The export from Armenia comprises up to 80% of this volume. The mutual investments make a small number. Some try to explain this by our geographical position and objective factors deriving from it. However, I think this is an excuse rather than a reason. We and the Kazakh people work, make trade with countries farther away…
-In this case what is the reason? What problems do you see?
-If we look at the problem not from diplomatic perspective, but as an ordinary citizen of Armenia, I can state that many of our businessmen spare no efforts to observe and enter the Kazakh market. Perhaps, one of its reasons is that it is not so accepted among the business circles to enter unfamiliar markets. It is incorrect not to use the opportunities of the Kazakh market. The country is rich not only with hydrocarbons, but also it has the entire range of non-ferrous metals. Over the past 25 years 265 billion USD direct foreign investments have been made. But the country needs highly-qualified labor force, as well as a desire to work with the partners. Expect from one-two companies, several natural juices, the Armenian product is not presented here. The only one is Ararat brandy.
These gaps are filled by Armenians living in Kazakhstan who produce Armenian goods, such as Armenian lavash, cheese, dried fruits and etc.
From practical perspective perhaps as a first step it will be right for Armenian businessmen to unite over any prospective direction and establish a representation here aimed at entering the Kazakh market.
-In May Yerevan-Astana direct flight launched. What prospects do you see on this path?
-Yes, Yerevan-Astana direct flight launched on May 31. The information I collect over the passenger flow, inspire hope that this chance will be used for expanding both the volumes of passenger and cargo transportations. The direct flight can boost tourism. I call on Armenian tour companies to seriously examine the tourism demand from Kazakhstan to Armenia.
-What information will you provide about the Armenian community? What problems do you see in terms of maintaining the Armenian identity?
-The major factor for maintenance of the Armenian identity is the direct link with Armenia. Many Armenian families spend their summer holidays in Armenia. Good or bad, there are many mixed marriages. The official number of Armenians in Kazakhstan is 25.000, but it reaches up to 35.000 at the peak of seasonal movement. There are Armenian cultural unions in all provincial centers. There are Sunday schools, dance groups, youth groups according to preferences.
I would also highlight the positive role of the Diaspora Ministry on the works with the Armenian community. The Ministry quickly understands and reacts to any initiative and request. The Education and Science, as well as the Culture Ministries also work with the same approach.
In general, the Armenian communities are firm. Armenian is a family language for many people. Armenians watch Armenian TV channels, visit Armenia and are happy for achievements of the Fatherland.
Interview by Anna Gziryan