BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev agreed on Thursday to redouble economic and political ties and aim for heftier German investment in the oil- and minerals-rich Central Asian country.
Merkel said that cooperation agreements could be reached with Kazakhstan in many different fields, namely in the promotion and advancement of renewable energy and water management.
“Right now we have the ability to reach a series of agreements with Kazakhstan, for example in the field of green economy. The country is beginning to boost renewable energy. We can also cooperate with them in water management,” Merkel said.
Tokayev recalled that Germany currently ranks 12th in foreign investments in Kazakhstan and noted that it means there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We discussed that and I expect there will be an improvement in the coming years. We are addressing specific cases, such as the fact that there are about 700 companies that will be privatized and that may interest German investors,” he said.
Bilateral trade between Germany and Kazakhstan amounts to some 5 billion euros a year, with a deficit for Germany due to gas and oil imports.
“These imports are part of our diversification of the energy supply and that is why relations with Kazakhstan are so important for us,” said Merkel.
Tokayev’s visit to Germany is his first to an EU member country since taking office in March following the resignation of the country’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who held the post for 29 years.
The Kazakh president said the fact that he made Germany his first EU stop shows the importance he gives to bilateral relations.
“The purpose of my visit is to give a boost to our bilateral relations, to our economic relations and also to our political cooperation,” he said.
Another point the two leaders touched upon was that of dual vocational training, which Tokayev stressed has been a great asset to his country.
“Dual training offers many possibilities for our economy and it is not a secret that we have taken full advantage of German experience,” he said.
Merkel, meanwhile, said that the more German businessmen invest in Kazakhstan, the more support the dual training model would receive.
Politically, Merkel said they had spoken “openly about the right of public demonstrations and human rights in Kazakhstan” and welcomed the fact that Tokayev intends to further liberalize the right of assembly.