Kazakhstan and Lithuania mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
All these years, Astana and Vilnius have maintained a regular dialogue at various levels, which promotes the development of constructive relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.
In an exclusive interview with Kazinform President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite told about the status and prospects of bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and Kazakhstan as well as the current events in the European Union.
What can you tell about the relations between our countries?
Our nations have established ties based on common history and respect for each other. For 20 years of their independence, Lithuania and Kazakhstan have achieved a lot. We succeeded to implement such major reforms, which some countries did not work out even for 50 years. Having taken 20 years ago its own destiny in their hands the people of Kazakhstan passed an important way creating a solid foundation for the future. So I can only rejoice and congratulate our people.
You have visited Kazakhstan two times over the past three years. What are the prospects of our cooperation?
The dialogue between Lithuania and Kazakhstan - both on a bilateral basis and within international organizations - has never been so intense as now.
Kazakhstan is one of the fastest growing economies in Central Asia. This is the fourth largest trade partner of Lithuania in the post-Soviet space. The volume of trade between our countries is growing consistently. For the Lithuanian industrial and agricultural enterprises Kazakhstan is an attractive export market with great potential.
Lithuanian architects successfully work in your country. I am glad that the creative potential of my country will help implement the most prestigious construction projects of the Kazakh Drama Theatre and the Russian Drama Theatre.
For Kazakhstan, which places great emphasis on education, we can be a reliable partner in this area. Lithuania is among the leading countries in the European Union in terms of education. Cooperation between Lithuania and Kazakhstan is growing every year. Therefore, young people from your country can get European education and experience in Lithuania.
During my last visit to Astana there were a lot of decisions, particularly on the development of transport links between East and West, where Kazakhstan and Lithuania will play a very important role. The opening of transport communication "Saule" is very symbolic. I am very pleased that President Nursultan Nazarbayev has supported this idea.
During the visit, there was signed a document on the establishment of the Business Council.
What are the prospects for Kazakhstan's business to invest in recreation areas in Lithuania?
Along with the potential of economic cooperation there still exists the importance of human contact. Your countrymen well know Lithuanian resorts Druskininkai and Palanga.
We are open for cooperation in tourism. We are waiting for investors, who will work on the standards of a modern market economy. We are always waiting for friends, being an open state.
For the first time you visited Astana when participated in the OSCE Summit, which also has a special significance because Vilnius took over the chairmanship in this organization from Astana.
The OSCE Summit in Astana was a big step forward in the development of the Organization. It helped Lithuania then, because we, like Kazakhstan, attached great importance to our chairmanship in the OSCE. The priorities of our presidency were the implementation of the decisions adopted at the summit in Astana, further efforts to resolve the protracted conflicts in Moldova and South Caucasus, human rights protection, free democratic elections, media freedom, the fight against new threats and challenges, concerted efforts to stop the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
What, in your opinion, is the reason for the emergence of negative phenomena such as xenophobia in the prosperous countries such as the EU member states?
A periodical cycle of the so-called collisions almost always coincided with the cycles of economic development. Once the economic situation deteriorated in one or another region of the world, people became more closed and aggressive and less tolerant. And now we've got into such a global economic negative cycle, when many countries are experiencing economic difficulties. Therefore, in these countries there is a tendency of nationalism, isolationism, less tolerance for others - not only religions but also to various other phenomena. This is natural since all countries are going through this period, but I very much hope that in the 21st century all these economic difficulties, which are sometimes expressed in such a way, including a surge of nationalism, will not have the painful consequences that we experienced in the 20th century.
What is your opinion about the current economic crisis in the European Union?
The blame is on those countries that have long allowed themselves to pursue a rather loose and not very disciplined economic and fiscal policy. Basically, it happened in the south of Europe. These states comprise, for example, Greece, about 2 percent of GDP of the European Union. But we're talking about the global situation, not only in Europe, about the debt crisis, including the U.S. and some European countries where external debt exceeds gross domestic product. This is the general trend that began a few years ago in the world. In general, it is now seen in one or another variant. In 2008 it was the financial crisis, which then passed into the real economy, and now we are witnessing the third stage - the debt crisis.
The common currency can only exist if there is a coordinated and fairly close economic or fiscal policy. When the euro, i.e. common currency, was created, there was an agreement to hold approximately the same or very close fiscal policy. Unfortunately, the mechanism of control was not so effective, that is why some countries allowed themselves a little different attitude to their obligations. And now we see the results. So I'm quite objective to that, because sooner or later it had to happen.
You have worked for years in the management of the European Union. How effective is the work of those bodies?
The bodies are working as efficiently as their member countries give orders, and regulations are established only by the member countries. We, heads of states, give orders and issue decrees what to do, and the countries themselves decide how much integration will deepen.
What qualities do you think should have high level politicians today?
These are qualities that are necessary not only to politicians, but to any person. Do something useful in life; be honest to oneself and to people, respect people.