18 march 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev

Mr Putin said that Russia will continue to provide the same large-scale assistance to Kyrgyzstan as before but added that the two countries “must shift to normal economic relations”. He said that this should be the main objective in relations between the two countries.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Atambayev, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Moscow. We had agreed to hold this meeting two weeks ago to discuss current bilateral issues.

We realise how complicated the present situation in Kyrgyzstan is: political turbulence continues as basic state institutions are emerging, and the national economy is in a poor state. However, your country has made certain progress in implementing our previous agreements. I can see it myself and my colleagues have confirmed this in their reports.

Mr Atambayev and I have agreed to hold this extended attendance meeting. We are ready to hold talks with our colleagues on both sides and discuss our cooperation in the most diverse fields. We are happy to see you. Welcome.

Almazbek Atambayev: Thank you, Mr Putin. After our meeting in December we reviewed all our previous agreements, as we had promised to do. We also reassured you that we were willing to comply with them. We have updated some of our agreements already. In particular, we signed an understanding with Gazprom to sell to it a 75% block of Kyrgyzgaz shares. We also signed another document on our readiness to provide land for exploration, development, etc. Such are our current projects.

Incidentally, when I met with the Russian minister of finance yesterday, I said that an agreement on the national debt envisages Kyrgyzstan ceding 48% of the Dastan Engineering company, a torpedo plant which previously manufactured physical gauges. We also agreed to provide premises in Bishkek for the Russian trade mission. We are ready to cede both 48% stock and the building any time. So the all issues we had discussed are practically settled.

As you know, we have promised to establish a joint venture by February 15 to stop re-exports of Russian-manufactured jet fuel. Kyrgyzstan was engaged in such re-exports for almost ten years via our air base. The previous authorities were involved in the business. We set up the joint venture on February 17. Acceptance, transfer and all accompanying procedures have been dealt with, so the issue has been settled. We have also reached an agreement with the US administration that 50% will be supplied to that company. However, when I met with the US temporary diplomatic representative to Kyrgyzstan, I said that we should now focus on the other 50% of supplies because we do not want MINA to be our supplier. As far as we know, Maxim Bakiev is behind that company. So we said that we insist on Kyrgyz government's participation in supplies. We are prepared to set up another joint venture. In any case, we have informed him that the Kyrgyz government insists on taking part in the supplies.

We also discussed the military base. Kyrgyzstan insisted on increasing the rent and raised other issues. As I promised to you, however, we have taken the issue off the agenda because we believe that that national security is not a matter for bargaining, especially in this landmark year. Allow me to cite some facts. North Kyrgyz tribes voluntarily joined Russia 150 years ago, while 70 years ago the Panfilov Division from Kyrgyzstan stopped the Nazis on the approaches to Moscow. There are many such significant dates. As I have said, we came to mutual understanding on all issues except one, which we were discussing just now. Mr Putin, I have to say that I cannot solve this problem. Some issues should be tackled in several stages. Unlike my predecessors, I don't want to make promises I cannot fulfil. Mr Putin, when I see that I can solve this issue, I will say so – and if I cannot solve it, there is nothing that can be done.

Vladimir Putin: We provide and will continue to provide large-scale assistance to your government and the entire Kyrgyz nation, as we have done before. We issued you a $20 million grant last May, and another $10 million last October. Today we are negotiating the terms of a $30 million interest-free loan.

As for aid to critical sectors, you asked us to supply seeds on a previous occasion, and we supplied 1,500 tonnes, along with 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel. Overall Russian aid amounted to $25 million. There are, however, things that are even more important. We have stabilised trade at about 1.4 billion, and that is our principal achievement and the road we should take. We should shift to normal economic relations. I think we should discuss it all in greater detail now.