The presidents of Kazakhstan and Turkey on Thursday signed a strategic partnership agreement, with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggesting that the two countries were already strategic partners even before the signing of the deal. Nazarbayev, who arrived in Ankara on Wednesday evening for an official visit at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, was speaking at a joint press conference following his talks with Gül at the Çankaya palace.

Turkey recognized Kazakhstan on Dec. 16, 1991, the same day Kazakhstan declared its independence. Recalling Turkey's swift recognition of his country's independence, Nazarbayev underlined that their bilateral relations have always been positive since then, with no problems at all and cooperation in almost every field.

The visiting president cited Turkey's Muslim, secular and democratic characteristics as an advantage, while praising Turkey's regional efforts. Noting that the two countries had just signed a strategic partnership, Nazarbayev said the strategic aspect of the partnership between Ankara and Astana has always been there.

“We have much more to do in cultural and historical areas and in the Turkic world for the next generations,” he said, noting that he believes bilateral agreements would help improve already good relations.

In response to a question, the Kazakh president said the amount of Turkish investment in Kazakhstan since 1993 has been around $1 billion, while Kazakh investment in Turkey during the same period of time has been $4 billion.

“This amount is not sufficient for the two sibling countries. Kazakhstan has so far attracted $25 billion in investment. In the case of Turkey, investment is around $1 billion,” Nazarbayev said. Ankara and Astana aim to increase the annual trade volume between the two countries to $5 billion from the current $2.5 billion.