Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan normalize relations

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan will strengthen friendship and strategic partnership with Kazakhstan based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in internal affairs of each other, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov told journalists after his talks with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana on December 25.

Jeenbekov was on his first official visit in Kazakhstan as Kyrgyzstan’s president, after relations between the two neighboring countries have been under strain.

“Today we have signed historic documents — the Agreement on demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border and Agreement on the regime at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. We have thus completed the legal delimitation of the state border between our countries. I am confident that it will help to turn the border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan into the gates of confidence, good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Jeenbekov said.

In his turn, President Nazarbayev said Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are fraternal and allied states. “There are no issues on which we could not find a mutually acceptable solution,” he said.

Nazarbayev said that since his last meeting with President Jeenbekov in Minsk, much work has been done on cooperation in phytosanitary, veterinary, transport, tax and customs control. All disputable issues have been normalized and there is no longer a transport bottleneck at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border.

Relations between the two countries soured after Jeenbekov’s predecessor Almazbek Atambaev accused Kazakhstan of interfering in the campaign for Kyrgyzstan’s October 15 presidential election.

On October 7, Atambaev accused Kazakh authorities of “meddling in Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs” and of openly supporting Omurbek Babanov, the chief election rival of Atambaev’s favored successor Jeenbekov, who ended up winning the election.

Kazakhstan subsequently stepped up checks at the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border on October 10, causing long lines and slowing the movements of travelers and vehicles.

In a meeting in Minsk on November 30, Jeenbekov and Nazarbayev agreed to work out a plan to resolve the two-month bottleneck at the border between their countries.

Starting from December 4, all vehicles started passing the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border without delays, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Nazarbayev also said that Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan should increase their annual trade turnover up to $1 billion by 2020.

Sergey Kwan

TCA