The conference, organised with the support of the Roscongress Foundation, brought together over 700 representatives of government agencies, major companies and financial institutions of the two countries. A series of documents was signed on the sidelines of the conference.
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Speech at a plenary session of the Eighth Russia-Kyrgyzstan Interregional Conference
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
Colleagues, friends, I am happy to welcome all of you, all participants in the Eighth – already the eight one – Russia-Kyrgyzstan Interregional Conference.
Regular meetings in this format, as the President of Kyrgyzstan rightly noted, are very important and in demand. They provide heads of regions and local governments, representatives of expert and business circles, as well as public organisations with an opportunity to directly discuss current issues of cooperation, to align positions, and to jointly develop plans to expand mutually beneficial cooperation. As a result, interregional cooperation is being fleshed out with real substance; it is making a contribution to the development of the full range of bilateral relations and helping to strengthen the strategic partnership and alliance of Russia and Kyrgyzstan. This is why we immediately supported the initiative of the President of Kyrgyzstan to attend the plenary session together.
I would like to note that the issue of regional cooperation was also brought up during the constructive and fruitful talks the President and I had today. This is only logical, given that 71 Russian regions maintain direct relations with Kyrgyzstan and Kyrgyz partners. During this visit, as far as I am aware, the Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions, as well as the Komi and Bashkortostan republics, signed an agreement on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation. In short, I can sense that the representatives of the two countries are ready to do business and work together productively.
The impressive mix of conference participants speaks to this. According to our Kyrgyz friends, this conference has brought together over 800 delegates from 18 Russian regions and seven Kyrgyz regions, including 12 regional heads, as well as officials from the key economic ministries and agencies of both countries.
I also believe our main subject for discussion to be important and topical. I mean new horizons of interregional cooperation considering the integration processes that are becoming deeper in Eurasia. For more than four years now, Russia and Kyrgyzstan cooperate within the Eurasian Economic Union. The advantage of integration is evident.
The Kyrgyz economy is growing stably. The dynamics of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP growth are among the highest in the EAEU: four percent per year on average.
Russian-Kyrgyz trade and economic ties have become more active. Bilateral trade is growing: last year it increased 17 percent reaching almost $2 billion. About 80 percent of this amount is interregional trade. Cargo transport volumes between Russian and Kyrgyz regions are also increasing; the development of the EAEU digital agenda, such as introduction of a joint e-commerce system, automated device tracking and construction of wholesale distribution centres, helps promote this.
I would like to emphasise that cooperation within the Union increases the potential for Russian and Kyrgyzstani regional economic growth and creates further conditions to increase interregional cooperation, develop logistics and infrastructure and establish joint companies to produce competitive products.
And, of course, integration stimulates investment cooperation between the two countries, counter-flows and capital. Russia is a leading investor in Kyrgyzstan. The accumulated volume of Russian investment is over $200 billion. These resources are used in processing industries, wholesale and retail trade, and mining.
The Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund, established to adapt the Kyrgyz economy to EAEU agreements, is an effective tool of bilateral economic cooperation. The Fund has invested $307 million in over 1,500 large and small projects. These projects are being carried out in various economic sectors and regions of Kirgizia, including the renovation of the airport in the Issyk-Kul Region, a building materials plant in the Osh Region and a shoe manufacturing facility in the Chuy Region.
Last year business and consultation centres opened everywhere in Kyrgyzstan as part of the comprehensive regional development programme devised by the Development Fund. They help businesspeople with drafting business plans and receiving financial assistance.
Russian-Kyrgyz interregional cooperation is supported by the Eurasian Development Bank that has funded a number of vital projects for the Kyrgyz regions such as the renovation of the Bishkek-Osh motorway and the upgrade of the Toktogul Hydroelectric Power Plant. Today, bank representatives signed a memorandum on a joint project of integration management for republic and municipal government bodies.
There are great opportunities for cooperation in tourism for Russians, especially in Siberia and the Urals. The popular resorts of Issyk-Kul that is famous for its beaches, spa and alpine ski resorts attract tens of thousands of Russian visitors every year.
Of course, the importance of further cultural and humanitarian cooperation should also be noted. In 2018, Russian and Kyrgyz regions were largely involved in events marking the 90th birth anniversary of Chingiz Aitmatov, the classic writer of Soviet, Russian (as we believe) and, of course, Kyrgyz literature. We really enjoyed visiting the Chingiz Aitmatov House-Museum just now. Yakutsk hosted a Kyrgyz film festival screening films based on Aitmatov’s works. A sculpture inspired by his book, Farewell, Gulsary!, was unveiled in the Kyrgyz city of Cholpon-Ata with the support of the Sverdlovsk Regional government. Last December in Moscow, the President of Kyrgyzstan, as you may remember, unveiled a monument to this outstanding writer and thinker.
Our regions extensively work together to develop links in sports. Russian athletes from Kalmykia, Bashkortostan and the Altai Territory participated in the 3rd World Nomad Games in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Youth and university exchanges contribute to the further expansion of interregional contacts. The President also spoke about this. The regions were widely represented at conferences and forums for youth and university rectors.
Colleagues, finally, I would like to thank all our Kyrgyz friends, the President of Kyrgyzstan and everybody who gathered here today, for their activism and enthusiasm. I am also confident that the regions of Russia and Kyrgyzstan will continue to strengthen their bilateral partnership.
Colleagues, a great deal depends on you. The President of Kyrgyzstan and I will do whatever we can to support your constructive initiatives, endeavours and new projects. Next year it will be Russia’s turn to host the interregional conference. With great pleasure, I would like to invite you to Yekaterinburg.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, the President has been in office for eighteen months, and during this time we have seen considerable invigoration of our interstate ties and interregional contacts. The Kyrgyz economy is making steady headway, maintaining the pace and building up cooperation. I would like to draw your attention to this and reaffirm what our colleagues have said here, notably that Kyrgyzstan is creating very good and stable conditions for cooperation and investment. This means a lot for business, in part, for them to be confident.
I would like to express the hope that our colleagues from both sides – Kyrgyz and Russian – will avail themselves of this opportunity and the results will be meaningful and obvious both to Russia and Kyrgyzstan. I would like to express gratitude to the Kyrgyz representatives and to the President.
I want to point out one more thing – a considerate attitude towards the Russian language. Russian is an official language in Kyrgyzstan, which creates special conditions for cooperation and, incidentally, has serious implications for both the humanitarian area and the economy. I would like to thank you for this and wish success to all of you.
Thank you very much.