Kyrgyzstan made informed choice by joining EEU
Kyrgyzstan supports most, if not all, of Russia's initiatives, Kyrgyz Ambassador to Russia Bolot Otunbayev said. He recalled that last year marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and it was filled with visits: "The heads of state met eight times, the prime ministers - seven times, the foreign ministers - six times... We all came from one great country, from the USSR. I shall not dwell much on the events, due to which our two former presidents were forced to leave the country."
Bolot Otunbayev drew attention to the fact that Kyrgyzstan became a party to all integration associations established in the post-Soviet space - CIS, EEU, CSTO, SCO: "Along with other countries of the former Soviet Union, we are actively engaged in dialogue with Russia, which is our most important strategic partner, at all these integration sites... Kyrgyzstan's accession to the EEU was due to objective necessity, since we are a landlocked country located in the very center of Central Asia. We needed close economic ties with the countries with which we have traditionally conducted a dialogue. We made an informed choice by joining the EEU in 2015. We view this integration association not as a political club, but as an economic one."
Speaking about the preferences that Kyrgyzstan received from joining the EEU, the ambassador said: "The country received assistance from Russia, a Kyrgyz-Russian fund was created, to which Russia invested a considerable amount of money, about $500 million. Today the fund works in our republic and finances many economic projects. But the biggest benefit came from the fact that about a million of our compatriots who are present in the Russian territory. Although, according to the official data of the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, 632,000 of our citizens are present in the Russian territory. Our citizens have received the greatest preferences in comparison with the citizens of other countries. In addition to the citizens of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia, they are exempted from buying a patent, from taking the Russian language examination, the Russian history examination, from obtaining permission to work, which greatly facilitated their stay on the territory of Russia."
Bolot Otunbayev stressed that, according to the Constitution, the Russian language is the official language of Kyrgyzstan: "Therefore, our citizens are more prepared, speak Russian, know local traditions, mentality and culture. Due to this it easier for them to find work here. And they do not do dirty work, but work in the field of service, in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets. When last year a discussion arose about whether citizens of other countries can work in Russia using their national driving licenses, the Russian side met our need. Today our citizens may work here using their national driving licenses. We are very grateful for this."