Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
Today we are opening the Russian airbase in the city of Kant. This is a key event in the advancing development of Russian-Kyrgyz relations, and, what is particularly important, in the consolidation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the growth of our collective efforts in the war on international terrorism.
The military and political situation in Central Asia is generally stable today. At the same time, we must not shut our eyes to the danger of terrorist invasions from the outside. In these conditions, opening the airbase at Kant is a necessary and timely measure. A measure that will help resolve both national and collective tasks that stand before the CSTO. I expect that this will create a good basis for cooperation, and become a deterrent for terrorists and extremists of all kinds.
Let us remember –President Akayev and I have just talked about this – the events of 1999 and 2000, when terrorists entered the country as if it were their own home, created chaos here and killed people. If the base had been here then, the events would have developed more favourably for us. I do not doubt this for a second.
For us in Russia, the war on terrorism is not an empty phrase. Today marks a year since the tragic events when terrorists took hostages at the Dubrovka Theatre in Moscow. This is a serious wound which will take a long time to heal in our hearts. But we all know: if terrorists are given the chance to spring up in one place, they will then appear in another, using the territories they have occupied as a base for back-up support.
By creating this airbase here, in Kyrgyzstan, we intend to increase security in the region, the stability of which is an increasingly palpable factor that influences the development of the international situation. The airbase in Kant will become an aviation haven for the rapid deployment forces in Central Asia, which were formed within the framework of the CSTO. It will open up additional opportunities for adequate and efficient responses to possible threats, will give the collective forces a qualitatively new military and political significance, and allow us to use military aviation in places where land forces cannot always follow the routes of international gangs and drug traffickers due to the mountainous terrain.
The initiator of stationing the airbase here, on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, was President Askar Akayev. Thanks to his direct involvement, the necessary documents were prepared and agreed on in a short time, and practical arrangements were carried out on creating the airbase.
We highly value the unanimous Kyrgyz support that the decision to station a Russian base here received. Particular thanks goes to the administration and residents of Kant for the warm welcome they gave to Russian soldiers, and for all the assistance they provided to build the base. And now I want to address the Russian soldiers directly: please value these relations. I would also like to address local residents once more: the base was created for everyone’s common security. Please exercise vigilance, because our enemies will pay particular attention to the base.
The city of Kant is historically linked to military aviation. During the Second World War, over 1,500 Soviet pilots were trained here. They made a worthy contribution to our shared great victory, whose 60th anniversary we will soon celebrate together. In the post-war period, military pilots from 54 countries were trained here.
I am sure that today’s event will become a new important step in the development of equal Russian-Kyrgyz cooperation, give impetus to military integration processes within the framework of the CSTO, and provide the necessary durability to the unified system of collective security created by our countries.
I wish you all the best.