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On Vladimir Putin's Visit To Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 00:14

It so happened that Russian President Vladimir Putin's working visit to Bishkek on February 28, 2017 coincided with some rather unfavorable internal political events, to put it mildly. These events have been quietly boiling in Kyrgyzstan for several months.


Some local townsfolk and “advanced” political technologists close to the official structures commented on the arrival of the high-ranking Russian guest in Bishkek. According to them, Putin's visit is another confirmation of the particularly trusting relationship between the Russian President and A. Atambaev. However, in fact, the bilateral relations were regularly subjected to certain tests in 2016; in particular, by the Kyrgyz side. Exactly one year ago President A. Atambayev signed the laws of the Kyrgyz Republic “On denunciation of the agreement between the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Government of the Russian Federation on the construction and operation of Kambar-Ata HPP-1 signed in Bishkek on September 20, 2012” and “On denunciation of the agreement between the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Government of the Russian Federation on the construction and operation of the Verkhne-Narynsky cascade of hydroelectric power stations, signed in Bishkek on September 20, 2012.” These developments may amaze an observer with how quick the aforementioned laws were prepared. The Jogorku Kenesh of Kyrgyzstan adopted them on January 20, 2016; literally two days later, on January 22, the President signed them. The Kyrgyz side's reasons to take such a step also caused certain doubts. According to the President of Kyrgyzstan, “Due to objective reasons related to the economic situation, Russia will not be able to build a hydroelectric power station in the republic. In this regard, the republic intends to seek a new investor for implementation of the project.” Unfortunately, we have not yet found an investor. However, we have refused from the previously concluded agreement demonstratively. Naturally, the question arises: why did they hurry so much to denounce the contracts?


In 2016, some disagreements occurred between the military departments of our countries on the issue of Russia's provision of military and technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan; however, these disagreements were not widely publicized. The head of the Russian military department was extremely upset by the unconstructive position of his Kyrgyz colleagues on this issue.


Kyrgyzstan's entry into the EEU still receives a controversial assessment in the society. However, it is quite obvious that in many cases the Kyrgyz side fails to timely commission the certified veterinary and phytosanitary control points, and to fulfill other requirements to the EEU member states.


Worth adding, the arrival of the Russian President in Bishkek coincided with the start of the presidential election campaign in Kyrgyzstan. In this regard, the local analysts began to predict that the current Kyrgyz government would try to present its presidential candidate to the Russian leader in order to gain his support.


Vladimir Putin's working visit to Bishkek also coincided with the detention of O. Tekebaev (a member of the parliament and the leader of the Ata Meken party). As it turned out, he resolutely stepped onto the “warpath” and was likely to go all the way in order to achieve his goal: the early resignation of President A. Atamayev. Otherwise O. Tekebaev would be sentenced to a serious term of imprisonment.


Despite the unfavorable circumstances accompanying Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrival in Bishkek, the working visit of the high-ranking Russian guest can be firmly recognized as successful and meaningful. With that, the heads of state did not sign any important interstate agreements. It is known that the two presidents confined themselves to a joint statement following the visit.


Analyzing all the nuances that accompanied Putin's visit to Kyrgyzstan, one can assume that the Russian side tried to solve two of its tasks. First of all, the Russian president was able to assess the situation in Kyrgyzstan on the spot and first-hand, and to determine the real position of the Kyrgyz authorities on the topical issues of bilateral cooperation. Secondly, Putin used the shortest way and the one-on-one format to bring the position of Russia on the main issues of bilateral cooperation to his Kyrgyz counterpart, and to help the Kyrgyz authorities to adequately assess the real state of affairs in bilateral relations, as well as the prospects for their development.


Although the working visit of the President of Russia in Kyrgyzstan was rather short, the parties discussed in detail the whole spectrum of bilateral relations. The heads of state not only recognized the positive dynamics of interaction between Kyrgyzstan and Russia in the political, trade-economic, cultural-humanitarian, military and military-technical fields. They also outlined the plans for future cooperation. Moreover, the sides will focus on deepening multifaceted economic cooperation with the optimal use of the advantages that the EEU membership gives them.


Many inhabitants and even experts might have ignored or disregarded the statement of the leaders of our countries that Kyrgyzstan and Russia recognize the importance of cooperation not only in countering terrorism and extremism, but also in combating crimes against cultural property. For museum workers, archaeologists and any indifferent citizen of Kyrgyzstan, it is important to know that our countries have a legal basis for organizing a joint fight against illegal artifact traffickers.


In connection with speculation about the Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan, it should be noted that the authorities of our country have never raised the issue of their withdrawal. The head of our state has noted only that the terms of deployment of the Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan are stipulated in the relevant documents. It also state that these terms are automatically prolonged if either party fails to notify its intention not to extend the term of such agreement. Naturally, the Russian side will withdraw its bases from the territory of Kyrgyzstan in this case. This is exactly what President of Russia V. Putin said. The words of the Russian President also had another subtext that could be read as follows: if the Kyrgyz side declares the need to withdraw the Russian bases before the official end of their stay in Kyrgyzstan, then the Russian side will withdraw them immediately.


In connection with foreign military bases in the territories of sovereign states, it is interesting to note the following. We are all well aware that the former Baltic Soviet republics were the most ardent supporters of the idea of leaving the structure of the USSR. They always showed a heightened sense of rejection of foreigners that embodied the infringement of their sovereignty. Today, referring to the mythical military threats from Russia, the Balts deploy foreign military contingents in their territory. Military ships of NATO countries, including those equipped with nuclear weapons, enter the waters and ports of Latvia without the permission of the authorities. Americans have long been using the aerodromes Zokniai (Lithuania), Lielvarde (Latvia) and Emari (Estonia) at their own discretion.


The curiosity of this whole situation is that, for example, Lithuania's Constitution prohibits the stay of foreign bases in the territory of the country. In an agreement concluded with Russia in 1993, Latvia also undertook not to host any military bases in its territory.


The problem of foreign military bases has always been a delicate topic. This problem is especially pronounced in Germany and Japan. Although these highly developed countries have very significant military capabilities themselves, they have to put up with a foreign military presence in their territories, explaining this presence with fears of Russia's expansion.


If we objectively consider the global situation, it is extremely difficult to imagine that Russia can invade Germany or Poland, let alone a possible war with Japan. Nevertheless, the factor of the “Russian threat” is used by Americans to deploy NATO bases near Russia. Speaking about Kyrgyzstan, the presence of – let's be precise in the formulations, as it's not a Russian base as such – an airbase of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the CSTO in Kant is caused not by mythical threats, but by the real development of the situation in our region.


The experience of the so-called Batken war showed that the fight against international terrorist organizations (based on radical religious positions) is not always within the power of one state. The current example of the war with the Islamic State shows that no state alone can resist international terrorist groups, which are usually created, trained and funded by Western special services. In this regard, any speculations about the Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan should be viewed as a provocation directed against the interests of our country. The presidents of the two states are right that Kyrgyzstan should strengthen its armed forces. The Russian military facilities in our territory are intended to ensure – jointly with the Armed Forces of the Kyrgyz Republic – the protection of the sovereignty and security of Kyrgyzstan. This includes countering any armed attacks by international terrorist groups. In addition to the issue of military-technical cooperation, Kyrgyzstan has no free funds to maintain the quality of its equipment and weapons at a sufficiently high level without appropriate gratuitous assistance from Russia.


In the text of the joint statement, the heads of state also recognized the significance of the interaction of the two states in the social and political spheres. They discussed the issues related to labor migration, expanding contacts in the field of education, science, culture, information, youth policy and sports in the near future. Against the backdrop of a more active involvement of Kyrgyzstan in the work of the EEU, all this can help our country to significantly improve the situation in these spheres.


A separate topic on the agenda of the talks between the two presidents was international organizations, of which Kyrgyzstan and Russia are members. The parties are ready to jointly enhance their effectiveness, to achieve a higher level of interaction and integration of all participating states, and to promote the growth of their potential, while increasing the effectiveness of their activities.


So, following Vladimir Putin's visit to Kyrgyzstan, one can definitely state that the bilateral inter-state relations are not threatened as of today. The Kyrgyz-Russian relations demonstrate a stable development trend. The presence of the problems mentioned at the beginning of this article is completely surmountable. One must assume the President of Russia will stimulate the leaders of Russian agencies to cooperate more actively with Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, Vladimir Putin has quite harshly made it clear that elements of blackmail against Russia are unacceptable. Russia has good intentions in relation to Kyrgyzstan and backs them up with significant financial injections, without demanding that the Kyrgyz side should accept any conditions that are contrary to the interests of Bishkek.


And the most important thing. Russia is able to work with any law-elected president of Kyrgyzstan. The problem is with us. We ourselves must choose a worthy president.

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