President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to say a few words first about the results of our work. Our talks today were quite brief, but were very productive indeed, as you have all just seen. This is not spontaneous action but the result of the long and hard work our governments, ministries and agencies have carried out. I want to affirm above all that these results do indeed reflect the quality of our relations. We are strategic partners and allies, and this fits completely with our countries’ interests and serves the cause of peace and stability in Central Asia.
We discussed today the various opportunities for expanding all the different ties between our countries. Most important of course at the moment is to carry out the programmes we have already set as objectives. These include geological exploration projects, including fossil fuels prospecting and exploration in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, modernising Kyrgyzstan’s oil and gas industry and electricity sector, and cooperation in the mining industry and in processing agricultural goods.
What we have done just now reflects our various agreements. According to the documents we have just signed, Russia will accord Kyrgyzstan loans for a total $2 billion and will provide $150 million in financial aid. This money will be spent on stabilising Kyrgyzstan’s budget and on developing key infrastructure projects, in particular in the hydroelectricity sector. In this respect, we have just concluded an intergovernmental agreement on construction of the Kambaratinskaya Hydroelectric Power Station-1 in Kyrgyzstan. This is a big and very important project.
We have other important tasks on our agenda too of course. All of our action today is taking place against the background of the global financial crisis and its effects. This is something we discussed not long ago at the informal summit in Kazakhstan. I discussed this situation on that occasion with Kurmanbek Saliyevich, and we talked about it again today. Discussions on this subject will continue at the meeting of the EurAsEC [Eurasian Economic Community] Interstate Council tomorrow. The memorandum the Presidents of Russia and Kyrgyzstan have just signed is about developing economic and credit and financial cooperation between our countries. I think it is a very important memorandum and a good result. We will use this document as the base for our work over the coming years.
Of course, we also discussed the situation in Central Asia. This is something we always discuss. Our common task is to reinforce security and stability in the Central Asian region. One of our priorities is cooperation in organisations such as the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] and the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organisation]. Our region has not only big investment projects but also a large number of unresolved problems. There are countries in a very difficult situation and they need our help to build up their own political systems and prevent all the problems associated with terrorism, drugs trafficking and other problems. I am referring to the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are issues that we always discuss during our contacts. We discuss these matters in multilateral meetings and also at bilateral meetings, of course, at intergovernmental level, as discussions between two countries.
We will therefore continue to provide all necessary assistance in settling these kinds of conflict situations. We believe that achieving peace and stability in these countries and in the region in general is in our common interests. In this respect, we will do everything possible within the CSTO and the SCO. This is our strategic policy. But we will discuss other matters too, of course, including at the CSTO meeting tomorrow, and we will keep you informed about the results of our work.
We also have humanitarian projects. We are working actively together in this area, in particular on carrying out Kurmanbek Saliyevich’s initiative to establish a Russian House of Science and Culture in Bishkek and a Kyrgyzstani House of Science and Culture in Moscow. We are in the process of drafting the intergovernmental agreement for this project. I am sure that the establishment of centres such as these will give a boost to our science and education cooperation.
I want to say once again how very productive our work today was. This is the result of the hard work that was carried out beforehand. I wish therefore to thank the Government of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Government of the Russian Federation for their successful work. I am confident that the decisions made will help to develop our ties in all different areas, strengthen our strategic partnership, and ultimately improve the lives of our peoples. Thank you.
President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev: Ladies and gentlement, Dmitry Anatolyevich, you have just said 80 percent of what I wanted to say.
Dmitry Medvedev: Go ahead and say it again anyway. This is all good news, important news, and there’s no harm in repeating it.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev: There is practically nothing more I can add, because you have just said everything in such detail. The only thing I particularly want to stress is that the signing of today’s agreements was not a spontaneous event. Preparations of these agreements went on throughout the last few months. The signing of today’s agreements is the result of the various bilateral meetings I had with Dmitry Anatolyevich, in Moscow, in Bishkek, and in Kazakhstan. Our countries’ governments have worked hard to carry out the instructions they received from the presidents. I must say too that our Prime Minister made several visits to Moscow during the work on these agreements, and a delegation headed by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister visited Kyrgyzstan. It was in this way that these agreements of such importance, above all for Kyrgyzstan, came to be signed today.
At this time of economic crisis, this is real and important support for Kyrgyzstan. I want to express my sincere thanks to President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev for his active personal support and for working together with us on drawing up these agreements.
The signing of these agreements takes our relations to an even higher level in both the political and economic areas. I think the agreements we have signed will contribute above all to ensuring Kyrgyzstan’s economic growth and consequently to growing prosperity for our people.
The signature of these agreements shows that when heads of state and government, the heads of ministries and agencies meet regularly and discuss the real problems the results are evident. The worst thing is when there is no dialogue, no understanding and no desire for action. In such a situation one can but look helpless and lament that no results are forthcoming.
I am therefore happy overall with this working visit and the agreements that we have signed. Thank you.
Question (Channel Five, Kyrgyzstan): Dmitry Anatolyevich, I have a question for you.
What is the basis, as you see it, for the proposed investment support for Kyrgyzstan? What potential obstacles could get in the way, in your view, and what is Russia’s interest in providing this support?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think that Kurmanbek Saliyevich and I have already settled this question in part. But I will say a few more words on the subject of course.
The basis for providing this kind of support is the particular nature of relations between our countries, the alliance that we have.
Kurmanbek Saliyevich just made the very good point that those who meet, openly discuss all problems, and are ready to help always achieve results. The reverse is true in cases where countries do not talk to each other and close their eyes to problems. This only makes the problems worse.
What I particularly want to stress once more in the case of our countries is that we have a strategic partnership, and this explains everything. The world is facing a difficult situation today. Russia and other countries are in a very difficult financial situation. But we nonetheless think it strategically important to bolster our economic ties with the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. We think it important to carry out the big investment projects that will help to develop the region and address complex social and economic problems. This includes the construction of hydroelectricity production facilities such as the Kambaratinskaya Hydroelectric Power Station-1.
It is for this reason that we discussed financial support and issues such as stabilising the financial situation, aid provision, and financing for this big project, on what I emphasise are preferential terms. This is a gesture of our friendly support for Kyrgyzstan on the one hand, and on the other hand it is an example of mutually beneficial cooperation, because ultimately, resolving these big problems will help to strengthen stability in the region as a whole.
I think that the set of agreements we just signed go far beyond the limits of bilateral relations in significance. This is an unprecedented project and these are unprecedented support measures, especially in the financial crisis situation.
I want to say again that we were motivated in our decision by the particular strategic partnership and alliance between our countries. We will continue to make such decisions. When it comes down to it, these decisions are in our country’s interests, in the Russian Federation’s interests, and certainly in the interests of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.
I think we will soon begin practical implementation of these agreements and practical work will get underway on this investment project.
Question (ITAR-TASS Agency): My question is for both Presidents. You just mentioned the big hydroelectricity project. Did you discuss any other big projects the two countries could take part in?
I also have a separate question for the President of Kyrgyzstan. Kurmanbek Saliyevich, there has been a lot of talk about the Manas Base of late, and some have been saying that this base has already fulfilled its mission now. Did you discuss this matter? Could you tell us how you see this base’s future?
Kurmanbek Bakiyev: Aside from the matters Dmitry Anatolyevich mentioned just now, we discussed mostly economic issues. We are not limiting ourselves to building the power station and working in the mining industry. Kyrgyzstan has many sectors in which to invest, including in industry. We have investment projects in agriculture, the processing sector, and tourism. There is a wide range of possibilities. I think the signing of today’s agreements will send a positive signal to businesses that have possibilities for investing in the sectors I just mentioned.
Regarding your second question about the military base used by the coalition forces, yes, we did discuss this matter too, and not for the first time. I think it is worth recalling a bit of the history of how this base was opened in the first place.
That was back in 2001, when real military operations were underway in Afghanistan, operations using artillery, military aircraft and so on. In other words, a real war was underway. At that time, Kyrgyzstan took the decision to offer its territory in order to help in the fight against international terrorism. I think the Republic of Kyrgyzstan has made a big contribution to combating international terrorism over these years. We did not send our soldiers, but we made our territory available. By the way, at that time, the idea was that this would be for one or two years at the most, but eight years have passed since then.
And I must say that over this time that the coalition forces have been carrying out their mission to combat international terrorism we discussed the issue of economic compensation for Kyrgyzstan for use of the base many times with our American partners. Unfortunately, however, we failed to reach an understanding with the United States. For three years now, we have been talking about the need to revise the terms of the agreement and settle the issue of economic compensation, which at present does not satisfy Kyrgyzstan at all, but the United States has not shown understanding. That is the purely economic side of the issue.
There is also another aspect to the issue that I should mention. For more than two years, in my meetings with President Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of Defence, and American senators, at all my meetings I raised the issue of completing the criminal case of the murder of our citizen Ivanov. Unfortunately, it has been more than two years and the United States has still not taken any action. How can we talk about independence and sovereignty if Kyrgyzstan is not even able to protect its citizens in accordance with the law?
In short, all of these problems together have created negative public opinion in Kyrgyzstan, and people have long since begun justifiably asking whether it is worthwhile to keep this base open on Kyrgyzstan’s territory. And just a few days ago, the Government of Kyrgyzstan decided that the time has come to close this military base on our country’s soil. You will probably see the media reports on this tomorrow or the following day. Kyrgyzstan will now begin following the procedures in accordance with the Government decision to close this base.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would just like to add a couple of words since the question was addressed to both presidents.
Of course our cooperation is not limited to the hydroelectricity sector alone, but the hydroelectricity project is a fundamental undertaking, a project probably unprecedented in the post-Soviet area, and it therefore requires a large concentration of financial resources. I think the return will make the investment worth it.
But this does not mean that we should stop at cooperation only in this sector. Kurmanbek Saliyevich said very rightly just now that there are many other interesting projects, in fossil fuels production and geological exploration, processing agricultural goods, for which the Republic of Kyrgyzstan is famed, tourism projects and cultural projects, and all of them will continue. But there is always a flagship in any economic process, always the big components. The Kambaratinskaya Hydroelectric Power Station is one such project, and it will act as the locomotive for the other projects. Such projects usually have a big cumulative effect, a multiplying effect, as the economists like to put it, and create various new economic opportunities in other sectors. We hope that this will be the case with this project too. That is what I wanted to say concerning economic cooperation.
As for the issue of the military base used by the coalition forces, this is of course a matter for the Republic of Kyrgyzstan itself to decide. Our Kyrgyzstani partners are working on their decision on this issue, and the President has just outlined their position. Aside from this particular issue itself, we also discussed how we can combine our efforts to help stabilise the situation in the region. In my opening remarks I spoke about this. Our countries will assist insofar as possible the operations underway in this region. No one is trying to shake off their commitments in this respect. We will continue to work within the anti-terrorist coalition and are ready for coordinated action, including with the countries of the coalition forces.
The forms and methods this work will take are a separate issue. Whatever the case, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kyrgyzstan both share responsibility for maintaining security in the region and helping in counterterrorism work. The forms this work will take and the implementation methods used, taking into account that the operation has been going on for a long time now, will have to be decided with our partners of course.