1. What are your priority goals as the Ambassador to Russia?
The priority goals of the Embassy are clearly stated in the Joint Statement of the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation accepted during the official visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin in February of this year.
The most important among them are regular political contacts at the highest level, practical implementation of the agreements reached at the top level, promotion of inclusive cooperation in different areas, including the expansion and improvement of the bilateral treaty and the legal framework.
The aims of potential development of the EEU are as follows: expansion of trade and economic cooperation in investment, scientific and technical fields, higher level of production cooperation, establishing dialogue platforms to put into life bilateral projects in various fields, promoting Kyrgyz exports to the Russian market.
Another important thing is the establishment of direct ties between economic entities, interaction at the level of Kyrgyz and Russian regions.
As you know, due to the current geopolitical conditions, providing security of individual states and collective security is on top of the international agenda.
We have all witnessed crises in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, continuing instability in Afghanistan. From our experience in the fight against terrorism we see that it’s impossible to combat it alone. Based on this observation the Embassy pays great attention to effective cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism, holding joint events seeking to ensure informational security.
Still relevant is the settlement of issues related to the presence of Kyrgyz citizens on the Russian territory as part of our interaction within the Treaty on Eurasian Economic Union dated May 29, 2014.
I can assure you that the Embassy takes all efforts possible to achieve the goals and objectives that I have just mentioned.
2. What is the status of economic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia?
I can stress with confidence that our relations enjoy a high level of strategic partnership and cooperation. There are even bigger prospects now that Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU.
Our collective work on various multilateral areas, including the UN, EEU, CSTO, and the CIS helps to find effective answers to important contemporary issues, especially under current geopolitical conditions.
Again, I would like to stress that due to the rise in international terrorism and extremism, security issues are on top of the international agenda. In this regard, Kyrgyzstan and Russia stress the importance of strategic partnership in the interests of regional security across all aspects.
3. What are the prospects and problems in the Eurasian integration process?
The accession of the Kyrgyz Republic to the Eurasian Economic Union was a priority of foreign economic policy and served the national interests of the state.
The participation in integration processes on the Eurasian track is important for Kyrgyzstan to provide a free cross-border movement of goods, funds, services, and labor in accordance within the Eurasian Economic Union to create conditions for a stable economic development in order to improve living standards in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is interested in the full participation and implementation of actions to meet economic and financial conditions need to join the Eurasian Economic Union.
Economic sanctions against Russia, a sharp reduction of trade turnover in the EEU, the devaluation of the national currency of the member states have had a negative impact on Kyrgyzstan and other members of the Union. Certainly, economic expectations were higher than they have turned out. However, Kyrgyzstan isn’t going to withdraw from the EEU.
We hope that contemporary integration processes on the Eurasian track will create a serious foundation for further development of the economy both in Kyrgyzstan and for our strategic partners. Drafting joint measures within the EEU framework to support our economies and resolve current issues in labor migration are priority areas for us.
4. What is being undertaken today to restore trade and economic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia, which were weakened in the 1990s?
Throughout our cooperation, Russia has been and still remains the key trade and economic partner of Kyrgyzstan.
The governments adopted a joint program of economic cooperation. It includes measures to expand economic interaction between the countries. There is a whole system of joint measures, including the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Humanitarian Cooperation, which determines the directions of our bilateral economic interaction. The regular meeting of the Commission took place on February 17.
Despite the downward trend in the trade turnover over the last few years due to global crisis tends, 2016 saw a stable growth of Kyrgyz exports to Russia. Over 11 months of 2016 Kyrgyz exports to Russia increased by 93.8 billion dollars and reached 159.2 billion dollars.
Russia ranks among the top three largest investors of the Republic. There are about 4,000 companies with Russian capital registered in Kyrgyzstan. It means that economic cooperation between our countries is extensive and has great prospects for growth.
Our relations have achieved a new level of cooperation when Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU.
First of all, Kyrgyzstan’s choice to join the Treaty of Eurasian Economic Cooperation gave our countries additional opportunities to strengthen interaction in trade, economic and social spheres.
It has been a long adaptation period. On the other hand, hardly two years have passed since Kyrgyzstan joined the Union, but the positive effect of joining the EAEU in the short term has been tangible as it was predicted by the government.
During this short period, Kyrgyzstan has accelerated its adaptation to the new realities. Russia’s support played a critical role.
The main upshot of these two years was the preservation of positive trends in the economy despite growing global risks.
Amid declining growth in the Russian economy (- 0.2%) and Belarus (-2.6%) as well as minor growth in Kazakhstan (+1.0%) and Armenia (+0.2), the Kyrgyz economy boasts 3.8%, the highest rate among the EEU member states in 2016.
After the accession, Kyrgyzstan the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund was set up to help us adapt to the EEU.
Today, out of 500 million dollars allocated by Russia, 674 projects worth 202 million dollars have been approved. The main areas are the agro-industrial complex, garment and textile industry, manufacturing industry, mining and metallurgy industry, transport infrastructure, tourism and medicine infrastructure.
This year the Kyrgyz Republic chairs the EEU. At the beginning of the year the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Almazbek Atambayev, as a chairman called on the heads of state of the Union to focus on creating the best possible conditions business growth in the Union.
Simplification of the employment procedures, an improvement of living standards of labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan and current legalization of many of them represent important achievements since the accession of Kyrgyzstan to the Eurasian Economic Union. It shows a high level, constructive and stable character of our multilateral cooperation.
5. Kyrgyzstan is one of two former states of the USSR in the Central Asia where the Russian language is considered to be an official one. Back n 2015 there were attempts to remove it from the list of official languages. What do you think about it?
Cultural, scientific and educational exchanges and contacts between people have a special meaning in the bilateral cooperation of our countries. In 2016, such events as the Days of Russian Culture and the Russian Cinema Week in Kyrgyzstan were successful. Now Kyrgyzstan is preparing to hold a similar event – the Days of Kyrgyz Culture in Russia.
Over 16,000 Kyrgyz citizens study at Russian universities, including 5,000 who get scholarships from the Russian government. This year, another 420 Kyrgyz students started their education in Russia on a free basis.
In return, Kyrgyzstan pays great attention to the Russian language. Our efforts were praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his official visit to the Kyrgyz Republic in February.
There are 200 schools in Kyrgyzstan where students receive education in the Russian language, and 414 – in Russian and Kyrgyz. In September 2016 Bishkek unveiled a new Russian school with support of the Russian Peace Foundation and the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Almazbek Atambayev.
I want to add that the Russian language in Kyrgyzstan will be used more and more because we need it and the future of our young generation depends on it. We can integrate in the world science and culture only through international languages – Russian and English. Writer Chinghiz Aitmatov once said that two languages are like two wings. It means that the Kyrgyz language also will develop since it is the state language and we understand that it is important to preserve it.
6. In 1987, you graduated from the Faculty of History from Lomonosov Moscow State University and took a postgraduate course. Later, you got the diploma of the Higher School of Management of Moscow State University and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry. What is the difference between Moscow today and city of your youth?
Sure, my student years passed in Moscow. And I don’t regret it, but on the contrary, I remember this time with warmth and love. Unfortunately, time flies. Most of my teachers are gone. The city has changed, there are many new buildings here, but it’s not the main thing. The main thing is that Moscow has preserved its spirit, the Moskva River is still flowing, the view from the Sparrow Hills, where I liked to come as a student, is still beautiful, the sound of Moscow bells is still harmonious, Stalin’s empire style is still impressive and modest aristocracy of prerevolutionary mansions is still exciting. Here I would like to quote the poems about Moscow of Denis Davydov, the hero of The Patriotic War of 1812:
Oh, the hospitable shelter of my youth!
Oh, the cradle of hopes and aspiring fantasies!
Oh, who among your sons
Have beheld without prideful delights
The beauty of your river, of the enchanting shores,
Of you chambers, your gardens,
Your expressive hills!
7. You are a veteran diplomat. You were Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the Kingdom of Sweden, the Republic of San Marino, at the Holy See, in Germany, Sweden, the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of Norway. Do you consider your functions as an ambassador as a promotion or a demotion?
In diplomacy there are no minor issues or minor states. Any appointment is a great honor and huge responsibility. Especially in a country like the Russian Federation. There is a joke among Moscow diplomatic circles – “An ambassador to Russia is more than an ambassador!” As to Denmark, Norway and Sweden, recently we have received an agreement from these respected states.
Soon I will combine my post of the ambassador to these Scandinavian states but I will operate from my headquarters in Moscow where I serve as Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Russia. We settled the issue with our Finnish counterparts and now we have to set date to present my credentials to the President of Finland Sauli Niinisto. So, as you can see, the matter of promotion or demotion is out of the question. I am grateful that the Government has entrusted me with such a noble mission. And however pompously this may sound, it is my firm conviction that there is no greater mission than service to the people, and diplomacy is one of the most effective ways.