German federal chancellor visits Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in Bishkek on July 14.

Atambayev said Kyrgyzstan places great importance on Merkel’s visit, which he called “historic” as it is the first time a German chancellor has visited the country.

“I believe that your visit to our mountainous country also means support to the democratic path we have chosen,” Atambayev’s press service quoted him as saying.

Merkel said that Kyrgyzstan has chosen a democratic development path, and that her visit’s goal is to “discuss how we could cooperate in the future” and “how we can help you”.

During her visit, the German chancellor also held meetings with religious and ethnic leaders of Kyrgyzstan.

Merkel’s visit to Kyrgyzstan is seen as being highly symbolic and a reward for the Central Asian country’s holding of democratic elections along with its establishment of a free press and an open society in a region ruled by authoritarian leaders, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Merkel will also visit Mongolia — also known for its democratic achievements — but is notably skipping countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, energy-rich countries that have far larger economies than Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan was once home to a large ethnic German population, but there are only an estimated 9,400 remaining after many immigrated to Germany and other countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Sergey Kwan

TCA