At his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, in Astana today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia hopes to achieve visa-free entry into Kazakhstan for Estonian citizens. “We hope that Kazakhstan soon decides to forego the visa requirement for Estonian citizens,” Paet noted. The Kazakh Foreign Minister assured that visa-free travel for Estonian citizens to Kazakhstan is likely to take effect on 1 June of this year.
Paet added that Estonia would like to sign a pension insurance agreement with Kazakhstan, as well as a readmission agreement and we are also hoping that the agreement on the protection of investments will soon take effect.
At their meeting, Paet and Kazykhanov also discussed EU-Kazakh relations. “We hope that the negotiations on the expanded partnership and co-operation agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan will proceed quickly and that the agreement is signed soon,” Paet noted. “The expanded EU-Kazakh agreement could be a model for future agreements with other Central Asian states,” he added.
According to Paet, Estonia is ready to share its experiences on the developments of the EU. “Also, the diplomats and officials of Kazakhstan are welcome to attend courses at the Estonian School of Diplomacy,” he added.
In meeting the Speaker of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, Kairat Mami, Foreign Minister Paet said that Estonia would like to have closer trade ties with Kazakhstan. “Estonian-Kazakh trade has grown from 35 million euros in 2009 to 125 million euros in 2011, but there is still room for growth,” Paet noted. “We support Kazakhstan’s aspirations in joining the World Trade Organization and hope that it has a positive effect on trade,” he added.
According to Paet, Estonia would also like to promote tourism. “This would be helped by starting direct flights between Estonia and Kazakhstan,” he said. “We hope to conclude talks on the aviation agreement this year. We are also interested in the transit of Kazakh goods through Estonian ports,” he added.
Estonia is interested in student exchange with Kazakhstan. “We offer MA and PhD grants for Kazakh students,” Paet said. “We would also like to have closer cultural co-operation, such as a special programme of Kazakh films at the Black Nights Film Festival,” he said.
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