Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan exchange diplomatic notes over Nazarbayev-Babanov meeting

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev (right) meets with Kyrgyz opposition presidential candidate Omurbek Babanov in Almaty on September 19 (

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on September 20 exchanged diplomatic protests after Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with a Kyrgyz presidential candidate, Omurbek Babanov, in Almaty on September 19. The meeting was considered by official Bishkek as meddling in Kyrgyzstan’s internal politics, RFE/RL reported.

The meeting, which came just over three weeks before Kyrgyzstan holds an election to replace President Almazbek Atambayev, prompted an angry note from the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry.

“The Kyrgyz side considers the statements [made during the meeting] and the wide coverage of the meeting by the Kazakh side as an attempt to influence the choice of Kyrgyzstan’s people and interference into Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs,” the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said.

Kazakhstan responded hours later with a similarly pointed message expressing “extreme surprise” at Bishkek’s statement.

“The meetings of the head of state with prominent politicians and leaders of political parties of different countries at their request take place on a regular basis and fully comply with international practice,” the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said, adding that on August 14 in Astana, Nazarbayev held a similar meeting with another Kyrgyz presidential candidate, ex-Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Babanov, who served as prime minister in 2011-12, is a rival to the candidate that Atambayev has endorsed, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who himself stepped down as prime minister last month.

During the meeting with Babanov in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, Nazarbayev “stressed the necessity to further strengthen ties between the two brotherly nations,” according to the presidential office.

“During the years of Kyrgyzstan’s independence, I have always tried to work fruitfully with all your presidents,” he told Babanov. “We will be continuing to effectively cooperate with a new president the Kyrgyz nation will grant the trust.”

Babanov was quoted as saying that when he was prime minister, Nazarbayev was “always providing us with all possible assistance.”

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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