Kyrgyzstan president guarantees peaceful transfer of power in October

Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev (official photo)

BISHKEK (TCA) — On July 24, President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev held a press conference at the State Residence in Cholpon-Ata at Lake Issyk-Kul. During more than three hours, he answered about 60 questions from journalists and political analysts on a wide range of topics.

Most likely, it was the last press conference for Atambayev as the head of state. On October 15, Kyrgyzstan will elect a new president. According to the Constitution, Atambayev cannot run for a second term. His term as president of Kyrgyzstan will end on December 1, 2017.

Atambayev spoke about the forthcoming presidential elections, stressing that he will recognize their results whatever they are.

“We guarantee that the vote count will be fair. Another thing is that some people would sell their votes. Well, what can I do? We have not fully awakened the responsibility in people,” he said. “I guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.” The country is different today, he added.

Recall that earlier the change of power took place as a result of the so-called Tulip Revolution on March 24, 2005 and April Revolution in 2010.

Asked about the most significant projects during his presidency, Atambayev said it was achieving the country’s energy independence and road construction. “It is impossible to develop the economy without roads and strong energy sector,” he said.

The President also spoke about the religious situation, measures to combat radicalism, the fate of the Bakiyevs (both the expelled ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his son Maxim who now lives in London), the Naryn hydropower plants cascade project, and his plans for the future.

Presidential candidates and SDPK

Candidate from the pro-presidential Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), the current Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov will be a good president, he is a decent person, Atambayev said. He trusts Jeenbekov, but he does not ask citizens to vote for him, the President added.

The President once again stressed that he had never prepared a successor for his post.

Asked whom would he support if there were no candidate from the SDPK, Atambayev said he would support Omurbek Babanov (ex-prime minister and leader of the Ata-Jurt – Respublika party). However, the SDPK has nominated its candidate, “and at the moment, in my opinion, Sooronbai Jeenbekov is much better,” Atambayev said.

After leaving his post, Atambayev intends to clean up the SDPK ranks.

“We need a new generation to come to the party,” he said. Atambayev participated in the SDPK creation, and “the party is like a child for me,” he said. It is necessary to put it on its feet, so that the SDPK could go with dignity to the parliamentary elections in 2020, Atambayev added.

New Prime Minister

A new Prime Minister will be in Kyrgyzstan in mid-August, when PM Sooronbai Jeenbekov will be registered as a presidential candidate and quits his post, Atambayev said.

According to Atambayev, various presidential candidates are promising to raise the economy, as if they live in a presidential republic, while all the powers in economy now belong to Prime Minister. “Then they should seek to become Prime Minister, not President,” he added.

In mid-August, the coalition of the parliamentary majority will elect a new Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. The administrative resource will not be applied in the process, Atambayev said.

Russian airbase

If there is a decision to create the second Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan, it should be on the border with Tajikistan, because there is “a bad situation” there, Atambayev said. However, he is not sure that this will happen in the near future. The decision will be made by Russia, depending on financial possibilities. Any military base costs a lot of money.

According to the President, he proposed to open the second base, but not to increase the first one, located in Kant, 20 km from Bishkek.

Atambayev believes that Kyrgyzstan has to strengthen its armed forces with assistance from Russia and China.

China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway

The President will approve the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway only taking into account the route that Kyrgyzstan offered.

The initial project was unprofitable for Kyrgyzstan. “It was not our project as it would be a railroad from China to Uzbekistan,” he explained. It would carry goods from China to Uzbekistan, without even stopping for unloading railcars in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan has offered its route, which will be $1.5 billion more expensive but economically profitable for the country.

Akayev and the Bakiyevs

Some people say that the former president Askar Akayev should be forgiven. “I will never forgive him,” Atambayev said. According to Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan had 67% in the Kumtor gold project but it is 16% now.

In the case of Maxim Bakiyev, “a string” has been revealed, and he will receive a well-deserved punishment even being in England, Atambayev said. The President did not disclose details, which are a state secret. “We have a chance [to punish Maxim Bakiyev], and we will not miss it,” he added.

Paradise for business

According to Atambayev, the State is creating favorable conditions for business development in Kyrgyzstan. The Prosecutor’s Office and police do not check businesses now. The State Tax Service and in exceptional cases the Financial Police only can check them, the President said.

It is a great achievement that the State has started allocating loans (though not all over the country) at low interest rates this year — at 4-5% a year in dollars and at 10% in soms. Atambayev recalled that when he was doing business in the past, he borrowed at 36% in dollars and 110% in soms.

According to the President, entrepreneurs are the future of the country’s economy, and the State protects them. “They are much more protected in our country than in all neighboring states,” he said. “We are very close to making Kyrgyzstan a paradise for business,” he concluded.

No new position

Atambayev said that he does not want any state post after the end of his presidency, but he will always be ready to help both the new President and the Government, “if they ask me”. “If my help is not needed, then I will have enough of my own business,” he concluded.