Turkish president visits Kyrgyzstan to mend ties, boost economic cooperation

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a two-day official visit to Kyrgyzstan, co-chaired the 4th Meeting of the Turkey-Kyrgyzstan High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council with Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov in Bishkek on September 1.

Speaking after talks with Jeenbekov, Erdogan called for more commercial air travel between the two countries and a Turkish role in reconstruction work at airports in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Highlighting that the trade volume between the two countries is below its potential, President Erdogan said: “We will stick to our target of increasing our bilateral annual trade volume to one billion dollars as soon as possible. And, I ask you to give the necessary support to, provide incentives for and protect our businesspeople in order for them to make investments in Kyrgyzstan,” the official website of the Turkish president quoted him as saying at the meeting in Bishkek.

Erdogan said he didn’t want a return to the poor bilateral ties after the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that Ankara blamed on the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denied any involvement in the plot.

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev criticized Turkish actions after the failed coup, which included the detention of tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, journalists, and teachers in a crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Speaking in Bishkek on September 1, Erdogan urged Kyrgyzstan to crack down on groups linked to Gulen, saying they posed a security threat.

“We don’t want our brotherly people to encounter such problems,” Erdogan said at a joint briefing with Jeenbekov.

“They [Gulen supporters] may infiltrate the Interior Ministry, military structures, such a coup may happen in Kyrgyzstan as well.”

Underscoring that during their tête-à-tête he sincerely discussed with President Jeenbekov the bilateral relations, particularly the issue of Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), President Erdogan said: “FETO still maintains its presence in Kyrgyzstan. Regarding the future, we do not want Kyrgyzstan to experience the problem that we experienced on July 15 [the failed coup in Turkey in 2016 – edit.]. It will be for the benefit of the two countries to remove the FETO issue off the agenda and to focus on positive agenda. As we have done so until now, we will continue to support Kyrgyzstan on such issues as economy, education, culture and development from now on as well. I am of the belief that we must all together work much harder in the period ahead,” the Turkish president’s website reported.

Erdogan also announced that the fourth World Nomad Games will be held in Turkey in 2020.

Kyrgyzstan launched the games and is hosting the third edition between September 2 and September 8 in the northern Issyk-Kul region.

Erdogan is expected to attend the opening ceremony of the Games on September 2.

Sergey Kwan

TCA