Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Today’s working visit to Kyrgyzstan is in the full and literal sense of the word a working visit. It was prepared for a long time, and designed to ensure the national interests of Russia and our strategic ally and partner Kyrgyzstan in three main directions.
The first direction is to consolidate our interaction in the cultural area. To expand and consolidate our interaction in the sphere of security and the war on terrorism, and to create the necessary conditions for further progress in the trade and economic sphere.
It is no coincidence that we began the day by presenting state awards of the Russian Federation to cultural figures of Kyrgyzstan, which my colleague has already spoken about. This is, of course, a moral gesture of support to the people who create a favourable atmosphere for the development of intergovernmental ties.
I am deeply convinced that it is the mood of the creative intelligentsia that creates this favourable atmosphere for cooperation in the economy sphere, the security sphere, and in the war on terrorism.
The second important point of our collective work today is the city of Kant, where a Russian military base has been opened. I am not going to talk now about the importance of this event for bilateral relations, and for development within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. It seems to me that this is an obvious fact.
Indeed, this is the first Russian base in the post-Soviet space that has been registered as is required between independent nations, with a sound legal basis. But this is not all. This base has excellent prospects for development. We are grateful to the President and the leadership of the Republic for the opportunities that are given to our servicemen. There is a good infrastructure today, and most importantly – I would like to stress this – there are opportunities for expansion, if necessary, to very solid figures of quantity and quality. We, of course, will do this based on the needs of the region, the Republic, and in accordance with the agreements within the CST.
I was especially pleased by how local residents felt about the opening of the Russian military base. Without exaggeration, you could say – and this is visible to the naked eye, visible by the reaction of people on the street – that people treat this as a celebration. This cannot be ignored. And I think it is understandable why this is so. I have already answered these questions. At the base itself, the question is often asked how interaction will be carried out between the Russian military and the forces of the international anti-terrorist coalition, who are stationed at another aerodrome – at Manas. There are no contradictions here – I want to remove all questions here.
Firstly, Russia is a part of the international anti-terrorist coalition. We support the efforts of the international community in the war on terrorism, in this case in Afghanistan, and support the efforts of our American partners. It is America that has the largest burden and losses in Afghanistan. And, I think, we should all be grateful to the U.S. President for his consistent and harsh position in the war on terrorism around the world. But the base at Manas was designed to solve tasks in Afghanistan, and the Russian base in Kant to ensure security for Kyrgyzstan itself and the Kyrgyz people, to ensure the interests of CST countries in the zone of their responsibility, including Russia.
And, last of all, the third area of our joint work today is the economic forum. I want to share the optimism that my colleague just expressed. We are indeed very happy about the attention that was shown by the business community in today’s event. We note positive tendencies in economic interaction, we see opportunities and shortcomings, but we are sure that today’s event will not only be useful for the business community, but that it will be made use of by business people. And our countries – both Russia and Kyrgyzstan – will create the necessary conditions for interaction between people who represent business in our countries. I must say that a number of specific projects have already been announced, an agreement has been signed, and I am sure that this will be beneficial for the development of bilateral ties.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the leadership of Kyrgyzstan for their flexibility in the approach to signing the protocol in connection with Russia’s intention to join the WTO. I would like to note that this is the first Russian protocol signed in this area. I hope that it is not the last. And it is no coincidence that we signed this document in Kyrgyzstan: I mean that Kyrgyzstan is itself a WTO member, but at the same time it works actively in the post-Soviet space in the framework of various organisations, the main goal of which is integration in the economic sphere. Here there are many rather complex problems, and the example of our interaction with Kyrgyzstan shows that they can all be solved quite successfully.
Thank you very much for your attention.