Vladimir Putin: Today we are playing host in Moscow to our long-time partners and very good friends from Kyrgyzstan. They are talented and creative people. People in Russia know the art of the Kyrgyz people well, and I am sure the Kyrgyz Culture Days in Moscow will attract interest.
A revival of broad cultural contacts has become possible due to the strengthening of the political ties between our two countries recently. Of course, there was a period, very recently, when some things, including in the field of the arts and culture, were somewhat forgotten as the new state was being formed. But I must say that today, in the period of political stabilisation in our societies, including in Kyrgyzstan, and in the context of comparative economic stability, conditions have been created for the revival of cultural, scientific and cultural exchanges.
Russia has an immense interest and respect for the cultural heritage of Kyrgyzstan, which gave the world the unique poetry of its akyns (folk poets), the legendary “Manas”, which has already been mentioned here. Your land has produced one of the best-loved writers, Chingiz Aitmatov, who is universally loved in Russia.
In today’s Kyrgyzstan ancient epics and modern art form a harmonious blend. Our creative treasure trove has been replenished with young talent and new works. I am convinced that our encounter with your present-day achievements in Russia holds in store for us some brilliant creative discoveries and exciting impressions.
Our states have historical links. I would say they have unbreakable bonds. Today, as before, we are together. The days of your country’s culture are another opportunity to get to know each other better, to open unknown pages of history in the life of Kyrgyzstan, centuries-old traditions and new names. The Chamber Orchestra toured the cities in the Moscow Region in April. Judging from the programme of the Culture Days it will be a highlight in our creative exchanges.
Our cooperation in the cultural sphere has a very good and solid basis. It is the Russian language which has the status of the second official language in Kyrgyzstan. And we highly value the position taken by the President of Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz leadership on that issue. We will do everything to reciprocate. I am convinced that it is without a doubt a historic decision, one of the fundamental decisions. Very recently we took a number of decisions that facilitate the stay of Kyrgyz citizens in the Russian Federation, make it easier for them to find a job and legalise their position. We will do everything to make it worthwhile for your people to study the Russian language. And I think it would be appropriate to recall the words of that great Eurasian, Nikolai Gumilev, and his conviction of the age-old affinity of our peoples and cultures. That conviction is shared by the new generations of the citizens of our countries.
Branches of the best Russian higher education institutions have been opened in Kyrgyzstan, which pays great attention to the issues of education. This month sees the 10th anniversary of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (which has been mentioned here). It is a leading educational and research centre in Kyrgyzstan.
More and more young people from Kyrgyzstan come to study in Russia every year. Last year alone about 500 people studied at our higher education institutions, financed out of the budget of the Russian Federation. Not a great number, but it is still larger than the quotas in other CIS countries, one of the largest quotas and the best proof that Russia is interested in contacts between young people of the two countries, another pillar on which the building of our future cooperation is being erected. We are convinced that such contacts must broaden.
In this country Kyrgyzstan is sometimes called a “land of academics”. It has a very powerful cultural, educational and scientific stratum. The best proof of that is that the President himself studied in St Petersburg. I know it very well because I have long had direct working contacts with Askar Akayev. He is a world-class intellectual in the full sense of the word. And today I think those present could see it for themselves when he delivered a brilliant speech, without notes, unlike me.
On this festive evening it gives me particular pleasure to present the Order of Friendship to the rector of the Slavic University, Vladimir Nefadyev, and the appreciations of the President of the Russian Federation to the staff of the university for its great contribution to the development of Russian-Kyrgyz cooperation in the education sphere. Please accept my congratulations and best wishes and allow me to come to the formal part, the presentation of awards.