Putin and Jeenbekov to launch Russia-Kyrgyzstan cross year
President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov has arrived in Moscow on an official visit. Today, he will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to discuss bilateral relations, as well as cooperation in the energy sector, industry, transport and other areas. The two leaders will also take part in the opening ceremony of the Cross Year of Russia and Kyrgyzstan.
Relations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan have developed successfully in all directions. Kyrgyz Ambassador to Russia Alikbek Jekshenkulov noted that trade turnover is expected to exceed $2 billion in 2020. "Now there are no political and economic obstacles to development of a mutually beneficial business between Russia and Kyrgyzstan," the Kyrgyz diplomat emphasized.
Russian enterprises are represented in almost all key sectors of the Kyrgyz economy: energy, mining, engineering, agriculture, and transport. Almost 700 joint Russian-Kyrgyz enterprises operate in the republic. In addition, Bishkek invites Moscow to invest in the hydropower industry and in the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project.
Military-technical cooperation has been developed successfully. The CSTO Kant airbase, which is equipped with Russian aircraft and Russian pilots, has been operating since 2003. Moscow recently decided to deploy air defense systems in Kant. This indicates that Russia is not going to abandon its role of guarantor of military and political stability in the region. Accordingly, the value of Bishkek in the minds of the Kremlin is increasing significantly. "In this regard, Kyrgyzstan is an almost perfect partner, which does not think either of an extra foreign policy independence or of a change of course, which was once again was confirmed during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan last March. According to Jeenbekov, Kyrgyzstan will consider its relations with third countries taking into account the interests of its allies in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, that is Moscow," Deputy Director General of the Moscow Center for Strategic Assessments and Forecasts Igor Pankratenko told Vestnik Kavkaza.
The Russian side appreciated such loyalty, not only politically, but also in financial terms. For example, Moscow agreed to increase the rent of the Kant airbase by $291.5 thousand - from $4.5 million to $4.79 million. Although it's not much, it is substantial for the Kyrgyz budget. In addition, Russia will increase the area of lands it holds on lease for its military facilities almost by 60 hectares, as a result of which the lease cost will rise to almost $4.8 million a year. Earlier, Kyrgyzstan's state debt to Russia of $240 million was written off. Bishkek was also allocated $30 million as gratuitous aid. In addition, Russia handed over two Mi-8MT multirole helicopters and P-18-2 early warning radars to Kyrgyzstan worth over 770 million rubles, that is, about $12.5 million.
Vladimir Putin and Sooronbai Jeenbekov will participate in the opening ceremony of the cross year, which will be held today in the Kremlin Palace, where the opera Manas will be performed by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra led by Kyrgyz conductor Rakhatbek Osmonaliev. The gala concert will bring together Russian and Kyrgyz artists.
The agreement to hold the cross year was reached during Vladimir Putin's state visit to Bishkek in March 2019. Events will be held both in Russia and in Kyrgyzstan. In particular, there will be an interregional forum in Yekaterinburg, Kyrgyz businessmen and entrepreneurs are expected to participate in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. In total, the program includes 200 events, including those aimed at maintaining the Russian language in Kyrgyzstan. "For example, conducting international educational expeditions in Kyrgyzstan, organizing internships for school teachers and university teachers using information technologies aimed at learning Russian language and getting to know Russian culture, literature and Russian education," Sooronbai Jeenbekov told TASS on the eve of his visit to Russia. He promised that the status of the Russian language in the republic will not be changed, and the authorities will contribute to its promotion. At the same time, the Kyrgyz president acknowledged the difficulties associated with learning the Russian language. "The problems exist. One of them is the level of teaching the Russian language in the regions. With the support of Russia, we intend to improve the situation," Jeenbekov emphasized. The head of state said that a branch of Moscow State University will be opened in Osh, in the south of the republic: "Thanks to a good knowledge of Russian, our citizens feel more comfortable in Russia."
The Bishkek City Hall orchestra, folklore-ethnographic Kambarkan ensemble, Ak Maral Kyrgyz state dance ensemble, the choir and ballet company of the Kyrgyz National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and the Akak ensemble of komuzists will also perform in the Russian capital. All Kyrgyz theaters will go on tour to Russia. On March 5, the Cultural Day of Kyrgyzstan in Russia will be held, in honor of the national headdress Ak Kalpak. According to Alikbek Dzhekshenkulov, the Ak Kalpak holiday is of great importance, since the national headdress is an important part of the people's history and culture.
"Holding of such a significant event is the recognition of the Kyrgyz people's merits and contribution to Russia, its economy, cultural and social life," Kyrgyz expert Asilbek Egemberdiev told Vestnik Kavkaza. According to him, there are a lot of problems and questions in bilateral relations that need to be resolved. Including, labor relations and the observance of labor rights of Kyrgyz citizens working in Russia, the number of which, according to official figures, exceeds half a million. The problem needs to be solved radically, which requires a certain adjustment of state policy, legislative acts and by-laws, as well as of the practice of departments and labor problems.