Thursday, November 1 2018 14:09
Emmanuil Mkrtchyan

Bolot Otunbayev: Cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Armenia will  actively develop for the benefit of our peoples

Bolot Otunbayev: Cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Armenia will  actively develop for the benefit of our peoples

ArmInfo. ''The level of cultural exchange and humanitarian cooperation, as well as the level of economic and trade relations, leaves much to be desired. In my  opinion, one should start with small steps in this direction in order  to drive from the dead-lock. " Interview of the Ambassador  Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kyrgyz Republic to the  Republic of Armenia Bolot Otunbayev to the Director General of the  ArmInfo Agency, Emannuil Mkrtchyan.

Bolot Isakovich, first of all, let me congratulate you on your  appointment to the position of Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic in  Armenia on June 11 of this year and to ask the first traditional  question: How do you assess the interstate relations between the  Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Armenia from the point of view of  existing legal agreement framework between the countries and  possibilities of expanding on its basis the whole spectrum of  interstate contacts?

Thank you for your congratulations, as you noted on June 11 of this  year President of the Kyrgyz Republic S. Jeenbekov issued a decree on  my appointment as ambassador to Armenia. On November 3 of this year  Presentation of Credentials to President of Armenia A. Sarkissian  will be held. In connection with the appointment, my country pins  hopes on the intensification of Kyrgyz-Armenian bilateral relations.  In this regard, I want to express my confidence that bilateral  cooperation, which unfortunately, does not correspond to the existing  potential of two friendly states that have much in common in their  development, in the same historical period of time embarking on the  path of parliamentary democracy, will continue to expand and deepen  for the benefit of the two nations.

Touching upon the legal framework, it should be noted that following  the meeting of the President of Kyrgyzstan S. Jeenbekov with the  Prime Minister of Armenia N.Pashinyan in Sochi on May 14, 2018, in  the framework of participation in the EEU Summit, it was decided to  conduct an inventory of legal framework between the Kyrgyz Republic  and the Republic of Armenia. International lawyers of the two states  are already working towards this goal and discuss specific dates for  the inventory. Nevertheless, the legal framework base between  Kyrgyzstan and Armenia created over the years of diplomatic  relations, the 25th anniversary of the establishment of which we  celebrate this year, has 25 treaties and agreements, as well as 3  protocols covering various areas of bilateral cooperation. However,  given that many agreements were documents of "the first wave", they  are mostly general in nature and need to be specified, the bilateral  agenda raises the question of their substantive content, creating an  efficient mechanism for monitoring their implementation.

Do you think that the level of cooperation between the two countries  both of which are members of the CIS and the EEU, is sufficient at  international platforms in terms of intergovernmental consultations  and developing a common approach to international global issues?

I can note that a certain level of interaction and contacts has been  established between Kyrgyzstan and Armenia on topical issues of  cooperation in the framework of such a large international  organization in the post-Soviet space as the Commonwealth of  Independent States. Moreover, at the same time, Kyrgyzstan and  Armenia are full-fledged member states of the Eurasian Economic  Union, a union with a deep form of economic integration, and I can  also assure that in this organization there is a dynamic in  Kyrgyz-Armenian cooperation on a range of issues of Eurasian  integration and international agenda.

One of the undoubted advantages for the two countries was the  improvement of conditions for citizens to stay on the Union's labor  market, since membership in the EAEU envisages creating favorable  conditions for employees, a simplified procedure for employment, and  improving social conditions. Meanwhile, in my opinion, the process of  adaptation of Kyrgyzstan and Armeniato the conditions of the EAEU  remains difficult. It is no secret that the countries still face  barriers in ensuring the freedom of movement of goods in the internal  market of the Union. It should be noted that these problematic issues  are in the field of view of the supranational institution of the  Union - the Eurasian Economic Commission and are constantly discussed  at various levels of the EAEU management bodies. I am sure that the  integration processes on Eurasian territory will create serious  prerequisites for the development of the economy of both Kyrgyzstan  and our strategic allies and partners, and the existing problems will  be solved taking into account the national and common interests of  the Union.

What is the official position of Bishkek on the issue of the  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement considering close relations the  Kyrgyz Republic has with Azerbaijan and Turkey, which in their  policies mainly adhere to the international principle of  inviolability of borders and in fact ignore the other core principle  of the international law, the nation's right to self-determination us  one of the basic principles of the post-war international system of  collective security?

Kyrgyzstan strictly adheres to the position of exclusively peaceful  settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the interrelated  principles of non-use of force or threat of force, territorial  integrity of the state, equal rights and people's right to  self-determination. I want to emphasize that it was in Bishkek where  in May 1994 a Protocol on Ceasefire was signed which has been in  force up to this day.  That is why, basing on the historical  experience of signing the Bishkek Protocol on May 3 1994, the Kyrgyz  Republic has always and continues to stand for the development of  constructive proposals for finding settlement options and is always  ready to provide its political assistance in this issue. 

How do you assess the potential of trade-economic cooperation between  Armenia and Kyrgyzstan considering the current rather low indicators?  According to the Armenian statistics the trade turnover between the  two countries in January-August totaled only 555.6 thousand USD with  a 14.4% year-over- year growth. At the same time export of Armenian  goods to Kyrgyzstan totaled 394.6 thousand USD (18.3% y-o-y decline),  and import of Kyrgyz products to Armenia-161 thousand USD. At the  same time import to Armenia grew significantly-53.7-fold. What is the  reason for that? Do you believe that due to our countries' membership  in the EAEU the opportunities for mutual trade may increase  significantly?

Considering that integration issues are currently very topical, I  would like to note that the conditions for the participation of the  Kyrgyz and Armenian sides in the EAEU as a whole are similar. Joining  the Union, the countries had the desire to fully use the economic  benefits and advantages of 180 million common economic market of the  Union. Perhaps this is one of the explanations for the "improvement"  of trade between the countries. The common market of the EAEU has  clearly shown which import positions are more necessary today, and  which exports can be avoided at the moment. This is what we see in  the example of Armenia, exports decreased, and imports from  Kyrgyzstan, on the contrary, increased, which for our country, which  joined the EAEU after Armenia, was one of the advantages of  participating in this integration union. One of the undoubted  advantages of integration that countries have enjoyed is also  economic policy measures that are important for any state - ensuring  the free movement of goods, services, capital, and the possibility of  unhindered access of goods to the markets of the countries of the  Eurasian Economic Union. For example, for Kyrgyzstan it is, first of  all, the products of the agro-industrial complex, the textile-garment  industry and the processing industry. Therefore, I believe due to our  countries' membership to the EAEU, the opportunities of mutual trade  can increase significantly.

The main obstacle to the strengthening of trade and economic  cooperation is lack of efficient logistics channels. In your opinion,  what conditions are needed to mitigate these obstacles to reduce  transport costs? Don't you think that the lack of contacts between  businessmen of the two countries is also an obstacle? And can the  successful implementation of the Chinese strategy ''One Belt - One  Road'' be the solution to this problem?

In your question you touched upon the cornerstone of trade and  economic cooperation - the problems of logistics and transport  corridors. As we all know, the cheapest transport is sea, taking into  account the geographical features of our countries, this option is  excluded. Today, for one twenty-ton truck to deliver goods from  Bishkek to Yerevan, or vice versa, an entrepreneur must pay from 7 to  8 thousand US dollars.  Air freight is even more expensive. There  remains only one option - freight transportation by rail. In this  regard, there is a need for the construction of new and  reconstruction of existing railways. And in this light, the Chinese  strategy ''One Belt - One Road'' in the sense of creating a ''new  silk road'' can serve its good service. The construction of new  Eurasian railways in the framework of the "economic policy of the new  Silk Road" and the modernization of the old ones in the post-Soviet  space will undoubtedly help to strengthen the transport positions of  the EAEU.

Do you think that the level of cultural exchange and humanitarian  cooperation between our countries is very far from desired level?  What steps need to drive this issue from the dead-lock?

Yes, I agree, the level of cultural exchange and humanitarian  cooperation, as well as the level of economic and trade relations  leaves much to be desired. In my opinion, one should start with small  steps in this direction in order to get things moving. In this  context, it is very important, in my opinion, to strengthen ties  between the scientific and educational centers of the two countries.  In particular, the exchange of experience between the National  Academies of Sciences, universities, institutes, research  organizations, etc.  The role of cultural ties is very significant in  this regard. As you know, this year is the jubilee year of the 90th  anniversary of the eminent Kyrgyz and Soviet writer and thinker C.  Aitmatov. Among the commemorative events holding the revived  Issyk-Kul Forum in early October of this year should be noted.  By  the way, Armenian writers and playwrights had also chance to take  part in it. As you can see, the work of our well-known prose writer  contributes to the strengthening of cultural exchange between our  countries.  Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate you  on your successful organization of the Summit of Francophonie in  Yerevan in October. Our cultural workers have a lot to work together  in this area. The fact is that in Kyrgyzstan the positions of the  French language are very strong, Kyrgyzstan could be a kind of  outpost of the Francophonie in Central Asia. In this sense, Armenia  could share its experience with us.

In your opinion, given the entry of our countries into a single  economic space, is it not time to strengthen our ties by establishing  diplomatic missions, consulates or, at least, the institution of  trade attaches in two countries?

A day will come when we will reach this. The issue of opening  diplomatic missions in another country is, first of all, the  prerogative of the country itself, this process should be accompanied  by a whole number of factors, such as the level of relations between  countries, the existence of common interests, and perhaps one of the  main factors is the financial side of the issue. The maintenance of  embassies and consulates is always associated with significant costs  for the state. Of course, these costs are ultimately carried out at  the expense of taxpayers, who reasonably can and should ask how  justified the presence of one or another diplomatic representation  is. Unfortunately, today Kyrgyzstan, however, like Armenia, cannot  yet state the fact of a high level of welfare and the opening in the  near future of their diplomatic missions in Yerevan and Bishkek seem  unlikely, therefore the use of Honorary Consuls institutes by the  parties can play an important role in enhancing bilateral relations .  In any case, I firmly believe that bilateral cooperation between two  friendly countries will actively develop for the benefit of our  peoples, and I, as the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Armenia, will make  every effort for this.

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