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    NAZARBAYEV SUPPORTS CONTINUING RUSSIA-KAZAKHSTAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION

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    ASTANA, March 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - On Friday at a joint session of parliament in his annual address to Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that he supports the continuation of the economic integration of Russia and Kazakhstan.

    "We share geopolitical conditions, encounter similar problems, and hold similar views on many processes in the world, and it is necessary to translate them into reality," Mr. Nazarbayev said.

    He stressed that "the high level of economic integration and confidence that has been attained must be continued."

    At the same time, Mr. Nazarbayev noted, "Kazakhstan has stable predictable relations with all of its neighbor states."

    "Consolidation of regional international efforts," he said, "specifically in the struggle against international terrorism and religious extremism, drugs trafficking and other modern challenges and threats to mankind is important to us."

    According to him, "work within a single economic space [Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus], the EurAsEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Central Asian Cooperation should be continued." He stressed that "Kazakhstan's foreign policy must be oriented to assisting the rapid economic development of the country."

    Mr. Nazarbayev said the main task of Kazakhstan's development is to attain a high economic growth rate.

    He designated the guidelines for the development of the economy in 2005: "further liberalization of the economy and development of competition through the continuation of the systemic reforms and elimination of red tape; greater openness of Kazakhstan's economy; the implementation of the industrial innovation development strategy; and the completion of the countryside development program."

    "The government must intensify its work to liberalize and restructure the spheres of natural monopolies, telecommunications, the power industry and railways," he said. "These spheres must become transparent and open to competition, while the population must feel the higher quality of the services rendered and lower prices."

    Mr. Nazarbayev noted that The Daily Telegraph reported that according to a British company Kazakhstan is one of the most dynamically developing countries among states with a transitional economy.

    The president stressed that "according to forecasts, Kazakhstan will retain its leading positions this year."

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