20 September 2012, 19:26

Russia, Kyrgyzstan’s bargain suits both

Russia, Kyrgyzstan’s bargain suits both

Recently, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. During this visit, a number of documents were signed, which, the two countries believe, will give a new impetus to their relations.

Namely, Russia wrote off Kyrgyzstan’s debt of $ 1.5 mln. Besides, some documents were signed that determine the status of a joint Russian-Kyrgyz military base in Kyrgyzstan.

“Our two countries need cooperation which would be beneficial for both,” President Putin said during his visit. “But for this, we should treat each other as equals.”

Russian-Kyrgyz economic and trade relations are already rapidly developing. Last year, the volume of trade between the two countries grew by 5%. In the first half of 2012, it grew already by 30%.

“Russia is Kyrgyzstan’s largest partner in economy and trade,” Vladimir Putin said in Bishkek. “And, I am sure that after we have signed these documents, which regulate our financial relations and our cooperation in the sphere of economy – particularly, in energy, – the partnership between our two countries will enter a new level.”

“Russia is starting to build two new water power plants in Kyrgyszstan – one near the city of Naryn and another in a gorge not far from Naryn, called Kambarata,” Mr. Putin continued. Both are very large-scale projects that will cost many millions of dollars.”

“We have also determined the status of the Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan. This base was founded when terrorists’ gangs entered Kyrgyzstan in 2003. Now, we have agreed that the base will continue to exist and function.”

The signing of an agreement concerning the base put an end to a dispute which aggravated – although not very badly – the Russian-Kyrgyz relations. Until now, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambaev was rather dissatisfied with the presence of a Russian military base on his country’s territory. He has even stated that Russia should pay for the staying of its servicemen at this base, which is situated near the Kyrgyz city of Kant, and named the sum.

After this, Russia started talks with Kyrgyzstan concerning this issue, and the two sides managed to find a compromise. Russia will write off Kyrgyzstan’s $ 1.5 mln debt to it and build two power plants in Kyrgyzstan – and, in exchange, a network of joint Russian-Kyrgyz military bases will appear on Kyrgyzstan’s territory. Besides the base in Kant, this network will include a communications center of the Russian navy in the Chuy region and a center for testing naval equipment near the lake of Issyk-Kul.

This agreement will come into force starting from 2017 and will work for 15 years, but it includes a possibility to be prolonged every 5 years. Before 2017, a temporary agreement called “Protocol on cooperation” will be in force.

Russia does not intend to use another facility in Kyrgyzstan, an airport called Manas, as its military base. At present, this airport is used by NATO as a transit center for transporting non-military cargos. However, President Almazbek Atanbaev said that the status of this airport will soon change.

“I have always insisted that Manas should be a civil airport,” Mr. Atanbaev said, “and we’ll transform it into such. Starting from 2014, it will be used to transport passengers, like every common airport. The Manas airport should not be a military base for any country. I have already said this to the US authorities several times.”

In his turn, Vladimir Putin said that Russia is ready to help Kyrgystan to transform Manas into a civil airport after NATO leaves it.

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