20 october 2018

Central Asia news

‘Hysterical’ Kyrgyz President Atambayev refuses Kazakhstan aid

16.11.2017 23:04 msk


Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has signed the law denunciating an agreement with Kazakhstan, according to which Bishkek would have received $ 100 million in aid under the framework of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) integration, reported the press service of the president.

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs was instructed in due course to notify the Government of Kazakhstan about the denunciation of the agreement and the protocols related to it.

The corresponding bill passed three hearings in the parliament within a month and was adopted on November 9. The agreement itself was signed in 2016. The assistance it provides was intended to improve the customs infrastructure of Kyrgyzstan, as well as to bring the veterinary and phytosanitary systems of the republic in line with the standards of the EEU. The first tranche, equivalent to $41 million, was due in October.

The Kyrgyz government had refused Kazakhstan's help in the backdrop of worsening relations between the two countries. The situation worsened after Atambayev accused Astana of trying to influence the presidential election in Kyrgyzstan.

After the vote, at which Atambayev's protégé Sooronbay Jeenbekov won, Kazakhstan tightened the inspection of people and cargoes across the border with Kyrgyzstan, which caused long queues at the border crossing points (in Astana, this initiative was explained as the fight against smuggling).

Within a month after the election, Atambayev made several sharp statements about the leadership of the neighbouring republic. During the meeting of the National Council for Sustainable Development on 15 November, the President of Kyrgyzstan said he does not intend to apologise for his words, and offered to apologise to those who are, "insolently prying into Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs and want to put their 'small fry' in the president's chair." He also accused Kazakhstan for getting Kyrgyzstan "cut off" from the EEU.

Officials in Kazakhstan reacted to the regular attacks of the Kyrgyz president. The head of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev considered Atambayev's speech "hysterical," noting that it "is harmful to the relations of true good-neighbourliness." "This kind of emotion is not the place for big politics. The blockade of Kyrgyzstan is out of the question. It is necessary to comply with the standards/requirements of the EEU. It is the subject of negotiations," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told Tengrinews today that as a diplomat and foreign minister, he is not entitled to assess the statements of the head of a neighbouring state. "I just join the opinion of a well-known political scientist, who said that the remarks of the leaving president of the KR [Kyrgyz Republic] are politically incorrect and do not correspond to the status of the head of a sovereign state," he added.

Earlier, Kazakhstani political scientist Yerlan Karin wrote on his Facebook page that Atambayev is trying to shift responsibility for failures during his presidency to others.

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, did not comment on Atambayev's attack. However, at a meeting of the Astana Club on 16 November, the head of state (answering one of the questions) said, having failed not to mention the Kyrgyz election that the countries of Central Asia need to come together for the successful development of the region: "Election in Kyrgyzstan was held recently. I am very optimistic about the future that our Central Asia is simply meant to be together, to unite. Not against someone, but for the good of our states, for the prosperity of our peoples."

"We are all neighbours defined by God," he concluded.

It is worth noting that Atambayev during his speech also spoke about the importance of good neighbourly relations. "We, the neighbouring states, must live in peace and harmony. Respect each other. Treat as an equal. And remember: that if you set the neighbour's house on fire, the wind may change, and the flame would spread to your own house."

The inauguration of the new president of Kyrgyzstan, which is expected in Kazakhstan, will be held on 24 November. But the next Atambayev press conference was promised to journalists on 20 November so Astana will probably have to hear unpleasant words in its address again.

Fergana News Agency