Andrei Krutko, the Russian Federation’s Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan, discusses the close connections between the two countries.
European Times: How would you describe the relationship between the Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan?
Andrei Krutko: The Kyrgyz Republic is one of the Russian Federation’s closest allies. The two countries are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organis-ation as well as members of the Community of Independent States and of the Eurasian Economic Community. Moreover, the Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan share a long history of friendship and there are indeed a lot of cultural similarities between our people. In other words, the two states are really close to each other in terms of well-established political, humanitarian, cultural, military and economic ties.
European Times: What are some current projects in Kyrgyzstan which the Russian Federation is supporting?
Andrei Krutko: Just about three weeks after my term as an ambassador here began, President Vladimir Putin visited Kyrgyzstan and the two governments achieved very far-reaching agreements concerning hydro-energetics development in this country. One of the agreements is for the construction of the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant and the other is for the construction of four hydropower plants in the Upper Naryn river region.
These five hydropower plants are to boost Kyrgyzstan’s electricity production by around 30%. Some neighbouring countries have expressed concerns that the construction of these plants could result in diminished water supplies for them, and we are now trying to assist Kyrgyzstan in explaining that these fears are not justified. For example, the construction of the Kambarata-1 plant actually means that less water will be needed for operating the Toktogul hydropower station, so ultimately more water from the reservoir of that plant will be available for the Fergana Valley in spring and summer. It should also be noted that these plants are of vital importance for Kyrgyzstan, especially in winter time for heating, since the major part of the country’s energy supply is electricity.
European Times: Why are Russian investors entering the Kyrgyz market?
Andrei Krutko: Russian investors are aware of Kyrgyzstan’s great potential. Political conditions here are more stable now, taxes are relatively low, and qualified labour is available at low cost. The system of professional and vocational education is still intact, so young people can be adequately educated. Of course there are also challenges here. These include a need for more investment in local production activities so that Kyrgyzstan would be able to achieve its goal of joining the Eurasian Customs Union. Investors anywhere need to know for sure that their interests are to be protected, and therefore President A. Atambayev is taking the right steps to guarantee their protection.
In my opinion Kyrgyzstan today is truly a land of opportunity.