Symbolic visit: why Vladimir Putin travels to Central Asia

Monday, February 27, Vladimir Putin in Almaty will hold talks with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan is the first point of the Central Asian tour of the Russian President. From Kazakhstan he will go to Tajikistan and then Kyrgyzstan. The backdrop for all three visits is the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with countries, which will be celebrated throughout the year, told reporters at a briefing on February 22, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov.

International issue Kazakhstan

The meeting of Putin and Nazarbayev in Almaty will be the first this year. Last year, the presidents met six times and 12 times was on the phone. “It is expected that the meeting will discuss the state and prospects of bilateral cooperation and urgent international problems, including a settlement in Syria,” said Ushakov told reporters. According to the agreement between Putin and Nazarbayev in Astana this year held two rounds of negotiations on Syria with the participation of representatives of Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey. Negotiation platform in Astana, the Russian delegation chose to present to the delegations of the Syrian opposition and the government of the draft Constitution of the country.

From Kazakhstan Vladimir Putin on the same day, will travel to Tajikistan, where he will hold talks with President Emomali Rahmon, but to award him the order of Alexander Nevsky, Ushakov said. February 28, Putin will spend in Bishkek.

All three countries belong to the Organization of collective security Treaty, while Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also members of the Eurasian economic Union, so the presidents are regularly seen on the summit of the organization. Last time they met at the end of 2016 in St. Petersburg.

Economics and labor relations

At the talks with President of Tajikistan Rahmon will discuss various issues, including cooperation in the sphere of labour migration, said Ushakov. According to the Russian side, in Russia there are 870 thousand citizens of Tajikistan, who last year moved back home almost $2 billion (almost a third of the country’s GDP). According to the Tajik side, in Russia there are about 700 thousand people.

The worsening economic situation in Russia, the depreciation of the ruble, strengthening the migration policy in the Eurasian economic Union since the end of 2013 led to a decrease in the number of labor migrants from Central Asia in Russia, is spoken in presented in Moscow on 21 February, the report “From Turkestan to Central Asia: the political future of the region”, prepared by the Center for the study of the crisis of society. Jobless migrants returning from Russia to their home countries, where faced with poverty and unemployment against the background of an already difficult socio-economic situation that may lead to the exacerbation of negative trends in these countries, experts warn.

During his visit to Tajikistan, the first Vice-Premier of Russia Igor Shuvalov, in January discussed the possibility of granting immigration Amnesty of citizens of Tajikistan. “The issue of Amnesty can touch 128 thousand of citizens”, — said the Ambassador of Latvia in Russia imomuddin Sattorov, specified that these citizens entry to Russia was banned because of minor administrative offenses, most often, single. According to Sattorova, only part of them may be open entry to Russia under the Amnesty can get up to 68 thousand people.

However, the assistant to the President Ushakov did not say that the question of Amnesty will be discussed. A source in the Ministry of labour announced that the planned during the visit of President Putin an agreement in the field of labour and employment also will not address the issues of regulation of labor migration.

The main topic of the talks with President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev will be economic and trade cooperation, said Ushakov.

Trade is reduced

Russia’s trade with Kazakhstan in 2016 reached $13 billion, a decrease of 16.3% compared to the year 2015.

With Tajikistan the level of mutual trade made in 2016, $668 million (for the year decreased by 15.5%).

With Kyrgyzstan to 2016, the turnover amounted to $1.2 bn (13% lower than a year earlier). However, Kyrgyz exports to Russia increased by 138% to $171 million.

From 2012 to 2016, Russia gave Kyrgyzstan $225 million for stabilizatsii budget. Since 2011 Russia duty-free supplies to Kyrgyzstan petroleum products. In 2016 it was raised 1 million tons.

Source: according to the press service of the Kremlin.