Iliyas Umakhanov: Eurasian integration is working and producing specific and tangible results

Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council takes part in the 4th Meeting of Speakers of Eurasian Countries’ Parliaments in Nur-Sultan (Republic of Kazakhstan)

Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Iliyas Umakhanov attended the 4th Meeting of Speakers of Eurasian Countries’ Parliaments in Nur-Sultan (Republic of Kazakhstan).

“The current forum is a convincing demonstration of the development and consistent consolidation of the unique international parliamentary platform

− the conference of the parliament speakers of the Eurasian countries,” said Iliyas Umakhanov in his speech at the meeting.

The Senator emphasised that meetings in this format have become a strong tradition. They have proven that they are necessary and are highly representative. The number of countries that take part is rapidly growing as well as the range of issues they discuss.

“Symbolically, it was here in the capital of Kazakhstan that the pivotal treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union was signed. Eurasian integration has become a fact. It is working and producing specific and tangible results,” Mr Umakhanov said.

“Today we are looking at the horizons of Eurasian cooperation in a broader context — as Greater Eurasia, a global Eurasian partnership. This idea is central to President Vladimir Putin’s concepts. Indeed, in conditions where the principles of free trade are being threatened and some states are using sanctions and restrictions as their main foreign trade instrument and resorting to pressure and blackmail instead of dialogue, the idea of the Greater Eurasian partnership based on equality, transparency and mutual respect for national interests is becoming an increasingly relevant alternative. Importantly, now we are implementing this concept in practical terms,” Mr Umakhanov said.

Thus, last year the Eurasian Union signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China. The agreement on free trade with Vietnam is already in force, and a similar agreement has been signed with Iran. Talks are underway with Serbia, Singapore, Israel, Egypt and India, to name a few.

“We will also cooperate to bring together the projects of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese One Belt One Road initiative. This is a case where integration projects do not compete but supplement each other on a mutually beneficial basis,” the Senator noted.

He said that now it is particularly important for national parliaments to pool their efforts to restore and promote trust in international relations, to resume dialogue and search for accord.

“We can use for these purposes the potential of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, the Parliamentary 20, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States and other venues,” Mr Umakhanov said. The senator said new dialogue venues have become useful in this respect, for instance the Eurasian Women’s Forum, which was successfully held in St Petersburg last year.

Mr Umakhanov emphasised the extreme importance of countering intolerance and hostility that is based on religious and ethnic grounds. He recalled that at the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 2017, Russia came up with the initiative to hold an international conference on inter-religious and inter-ethnic issues. The UN General Assembly supported this initiative. It was decided that the World Conference on Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue would take place in Russia in May 2022 under the auspices of the UN and the Inter-Parliamentary Union with the participation of heads of state, MPs and representatives of world religions as well as the public.

“We hope for your active participation and support in this undertaking,”
Mr Umakhanov said.

A separate conversation with the Speaker of the Senate of Kazakhstan, Dariga Nazarbayeva, took place during the meeting with the Federal Assembly delegation, headed by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

Ms Nazarbayeva reaffirmed her willingness to pay an official visit to Russia this year at the invitation of Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko. The participants discussed bilateral issues and coordination of the activities of international parliamentary organisations.

Ms Nazarbayeva introduced the new co-chair of the Russian-Kazakh Inter-Parliamentary Commission, Vice Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Askar Shakirov.

It was decided to hold the commission’s 15th session this autumn in a region of the Russian Federation to discuss environmental cooperation and measures to counter cyber-threats as well as ethnic and religious intolerance. The participants also emphasised the importance of coordinating national legislations on these issues.