President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends and colleagues,
I am glad to welcome the President of Kyrgyzstan in Moscow. We meet regularly. We held substantive talks in Bishkek in February and saw each other at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in the capital of Kyrgyzstan and recently at the Astana Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Mr Atambayev comes to Russia often, but this time is different: he is making a state visit. It is symbolic that this visit is being held in the year when we mark the 25th anniversary of Russian-Kyrgyzstani diplomatic relations and the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.
In the past 25 years, relations between our countries developed in all areas based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests and have reached the level of strategic partnership.
As usual, our talks with the President of Kyrgyzstan were held in a friendly and constructive spirit. We discussed the key issues on the bilateral agenda and also current regional and international matters.
The talks we have held with government members and business leaders focused on Russian-Kyrgyzstani relations, primarily trade and economic cooperation.
We noted with satisfaction that we have reversed, overall, the negative trend in mutual trade that was caused by global market instability. In the first quarter of 2017, our trade increased by 23 percent. Russian exports to Kyrgyzstan grew 24 percent and imports from Kyrgyzstan by 15 percent. The deliveries of foods and agricultural raw materials, which are vital commodities for Kyrgyzstan, have increased more than 150 percent.
Notably, Russia continues to help the economy of Kyrgyzstan. Our financial assistance is mostly uncompensated. The Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund is operating successfully, with Russia investing $500 million in its authorised capital. The fund has provided financing to 28 major projects in Kyrgyzstan. Another 700 diverse projects have received loans in the amount of over $230 million from Kyrgyz commercial banks under the Small and Medium-Sized Business Support Programme.
In addition, Russia annually provides $30 million to support the state budget of Kyrgyzstan. Since 2012, the cumulative amount of such grants has amounted to $255 million. Russia has allocated another $200 million to adapt the Kyrgyz economy to the terms and conditions of membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.
Significant investments in Kyrgyzstan come from Russian commercial organisations. For example, the amount invested by Gazprom into upgrading the Kyrgyz gas distribution system will reach 100 billion rubles in the coming years. As a result, the provision of gas supply in that country should go from the current 22 percent to 60 percent.
Money transfers by its citizens working in Russia make a significant contribution to Kyrgyzstan’s economy. Last year, the amount of such transfers increased by almost 20 percent and amounted to almost $2 billion, or one-third of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP. Such transfers grew by another 67 percent in the first quarter of this year. Kyrgyz citizens are granted preferential terms for employment, medical care and social assistance.
Another focus of attention at the talks was expanding contacts between the regions of our countries. Currently, about 70 Russian regions cooperate with the Kyrgyz Republic. We expect that bilateral regional exchanges will be further boosted by the President of Kyrgyzstan’s travels to Bashkortostan and Tatarstan as part of the current visit. I'm sure you'll like it there, and it will be an interesting visit since they are fast-growing Russian regions.
We had a detailed discussion on the expansion of integration processes in the Eurasian space, as well as on our cooperation within the CIS, the CSTO, the SCO and the UN.
Russia appreciates Kyrgyzstan’s efforts as the current Chair of the Eurasian Economic Union. We support the priorities of the joint work within the EAEU suggested by Kyrgyzstan as the EAEU Chair, including stepping up integration processes, and further reducing administrative and technical barriers in trade among EAEU member states.
Military-technical and defence cooperation is an important element of the strategic relations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan. I strongly believe that the contract we signed today to promote military-technical cooperation will make a substantial contribution to further enhancing Kyrgyzstan’s defence capabilities. Today we also reaffirmed our shared understanding that the presence of a Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan is an important factor of stability and security in Central Asia in keeping with the long-term interests of our countries and our CSTO allies.
We agreed with our partners from Kyrgyzstan to continue closely coordinating our efforts to combat terrorism and the spread of extremist ideology, proposing to step up cooperation on counter-terrorism within regional organisations, including the specialised services of the CSTO and SCO.
We exchanged views on the prospects for stepping up cultural and humanitarian cooperation. The visit to Russia by the President of Kyrgyzstan was arranged to coincide with the opening of the Days of Kyrgyzstan in Russia, and last year the Days of Russia were held in Kyrgyzstan. We agreed on providing further incentives for educational exchanges, which enable Kyrgyzstan residents to obtain quality higher education and improve their Russian language skills. Some 17,000 students from Kyrgyzstan are currently enrolled in Russian universities, including more than 5,000 students who benefit from scholarships funded by Russia’s federal budget.
In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank Mr Atambayev and all our Kyrgyz friends for the constructive atmosphere at our talks. We coordinated new large-scale tasks on developing bilateral relations, which are reflected in the just signed Declaration on Strengthening the Alliance and Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Kyrgyz Republic.
I am convinced that the declaration as well as other documents signed as a result of the visit will help promote Russian-Kyrgyz cooperation in the most diverse areas and spheres.
And in conclusion, I would like to add that we know that the President of the Republic’s time in this high office is coming to an end. I would like to thank Mr Atambayev for what he has done for the development of Russian-Kyrgyz relations and for what he is doing to promote and support the Russian language in Kyrgyzstan. We are in a position to appreciate it and we do appreciate it. We would like to thank you for laying such a solid foundation for the development of bilateral ties in the mid-term and, I hope, long-term perspective.
Thank you for your attention.
President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
Thank you for the high praise of my work. I agree that the foundation that has been laid in the past five or six years is very solid, as you put it. This is probably one of my achievements that I will always recall with pride till my final days, so to speak.
And I would also like to thank the Russian side and you Mr President for your warmth and hospitality on my own behalf and on behalf of our entire delegation. As you said, our relations have undergone a profound transformation. We have managed to raise relations to the level of strategic partnership and, owing to your personal involvement, we have carried out major projects in the economy, trade and strengthening Kyrgyzstan’s defence capability.
And, in addition to that, I would like to note that Russia has granted us significant financial aid. Today our finance ministers exchanged a protocol on Russia writing off all of Kyrgyzstan’s debts, all remaining debts. And when we discussed the agenda today, we saw that we have practically no differences – just plans and prospects for the future. Since joining the Eurasian Economic Union, we have seen a sharp increase in trade – by 23 percent, as you observed, and the growth of money remittances from our migrant workers.
Most importantly, we see that the lives of the Kyrgyz citizens who work here have become much easier. It is good that we are seeing quick results, because we remember the massive attack in our country and some other countries aimed at preventing Kyrgyzstan from joining the Eurasian Economic Union. We see that joining has lived up to our expectations. Of course, much work remains to be done, but we can feel the support of fraternal Russia in this area as well.
I am pleased that we have managed to maintain close cultural ties. Of course, we need to further strengthen them. Today, the Days of the Kyrgyzstani Culture kick off in Russia with a big concert at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. This is an excellent opportunity to reinvigorate this activity.
Ties between regions are fairly strong. Of course, Mr President, I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to visit Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. As you may be aware, my wife was born in Russia, and she is probably even more pleased at the prospect. There are members in our delegation with Russian roots as well. We have managed to maintain a diversity of voices and languages in Kyrgyzstan. I am very pleased, in fact for me it is high praise, Mr President, that a foundation has been laid, as you mentioned, not only for medium-term cooperation. I believe it will last forever.
On July 20, we will hold a large international forum in Kyrgyzstan attended by representatives of dozens of countries of the pra-Altaic civilisations. While some of them may have even forgot it, they come from Altai, and are representatives of the Altai civilisation, including Kyrgyzstan. Of course, for us, Russia is our ancestral homeland. Our legendary hero Manas, the father of our people, also comes from Altai. Therefore, I am absolutely convinced that not only this ancient history binds us; of course, our common future will bind us as well.
I cannot imagine the future of Kyrgyzstan without Russia. Today, the representatives of the government and representatives of all parties represented in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament attended the talks. There are six parties in parliament, and all representatives of the parties are in favour of friendship and brotherhood with our great Russia, brotherly Russia.
In closing, I would like to once again thank President Vladimir Putin, the members of the Russian Government, the heads of ministries and departments, the State Duma deputies, and the Federation Council members, who have always supported Kyrgyzstan. On behalf of the people of Kyrgyzstan, I thank you for the support that we always feel.