Last year, Kyrgyzstan presided over EAEU and replaced the President with whom joined a new integration Association. The new head of state is less emotional, which will allow Bishkek to pursue a more stable and pragmatic foreign policy.
In 2017, the economy of Kyrgyzstan generally showed good results and grew by 4.5%, at the same time increasing the national debt. The Republic has managed to re-establish good relations with Kazakhstan as well as with other countries.
Political scientist from Bishkek Denis Berdakov in an interview With the press Club "Sodrujestvo" notes that Kyrgyzstan has a good policy with neighbor countries. At the same time placing in priority one country, on which most depends – Russia. According to the Ministry of Finance of the Kyrgyz Republic, during the first half of 2018, migrants transferred to Kyrgyzstan $ 1.2 billion, 90% of transfers was from Russia.
- Denis Mikhailovich, what is the difference between foreign policy of Sooronbai Jeenbekov from his predecessor?
First, the policy became stable and not dealing with the emotions of the First Person. Sooronbai Sharipovich as a classical traditional politician builds relationships with everyone. On the one hand on an equal base, on the other hand, step by step. He does not allow himself to make harsh statements, he is trying to make foreign policy extremely pragmatic.
In my opinion, this is absolutely true. Because pragmatic foreign policy is a 2-3 stronger support, which has always helped Kyrgyzstan in providing security and defense, for example through the CSTO and, to a lesser extent, through the SCO. And also economically supported the population - this is the entry into the EEA and a good grant relationship with China, the EU, the USA, South Korea and Japan.
Therefore, foreign policy, for us as being small country should be extremely pragmatic, balanced, without any political manias, swings, missionary goals. Since unsecured ambitions in geopolitics, it is always a hole in the budget. Kyrgyzstan already lives with a hole in the state budget.
- How was the chairmanship of Kyrgyzstan in the EEMP held?
Quite frankly, against the backdrop of the political crisis, the elections that were held last year. Actually, this entire agenda, which offers digitalization of the EAGE countries, according to which the initiator seems to be better tracked the flow of goods across borders and as a result will grow the budget, the production is initially not true.
It was necessary to call this process industrial cooperation. But everything here has rested on those elites that exist in all the countries of the EAEC, this issue does not resolve in the near future. Digitalization is a fashionable word, you can talk a lot about it. In fact, this will be reduced to the introduction of Russian guests and software to track the goods. So far, only a few product groups - shoes, furs, but, this nomenclature will constantly increase.
For Kyrgyzstan, the last year did not bring much in the EAEC, yet most of the Union's economy is Russian. And what is done in Russia, regardless of the agendas, this is the real agenda of the EAEC. Last year we proposed a number of good initiatives, but they were complicated by the internal political situation.
- Did not the previous presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic conduct the same policy?
When Askar Akaev was a president the foreign policy was too mild. At that time there were examples when he thanked the ambassadors and governments of several countries for the same thing. Generally, everyone was pleased and no one questioned each other. It was a policy of friendliness, and I can say it did not lead to anything bad for the country, if we keep silent that there was a failure in domestic policy and the expectations of the people from the 1990s have not been met. As a result, Askar Akayevich buried himself.
We had periods of political hesitation, when we tried to play on the contradictions between Russia and the US, to recall even the question of the military base of the Americans. In the end, everything also ended badly.
Does this mean that we need to abandon the multi-vector policy? Absolutely not. We need to give each vector the importance it needs. Each vector has its own special importance.
- In his recent speech, Sooronbai Jeenbekov clearly identified the closest partners of Kyrgyzstan.
This is true. The President called Russia a priority partner, both in the economic and military-economic domains. However, this does not mean that it is not profitable for Kyrgyzstan and it is not important to develop trade relations with China, Turkey, work in the humanitarian area, develop a grant cooperation with the European Union, the United States, and South Korea. And for many things, technologies, in many ways only Western countries are financing our country, this is also important.
In general, people should understand that for the existence of the political vertical of the power of Kyrgyzstan, a minimum of $ 300 million should come to the system by my calculation every year. With this money, which goes to the political elite (through kickbacks, grants, tenders, etc.). Part of the money goes to support the infrastructure, most of it is stolen, but this ensures at least partial loyalty of the elite, it will not work for free.
Therefore, the system should receive money, in an approximately designated volume. Where exactly they come from is not so important. The main thing is that under them there are no big political demands.
- What about our neighbors in the region?
Now in general in Central Asia there is a certain renaissance of openness, in particular, Uzbekistan has opened. It is important that Kyrgyzstan actively promotes agenda between the two countries as an increase in trade turnover, mutual trade, humanitarian projects which just began to work between Tashkent and Bishkek.
Even more important, we have good projects with Kazakhstan. This is the country through whose territory we have access to the countries of the EEA, and our re-export from China is working as well. Good relations have now been established through the presidents, and these are the relationships that benefit each Kyrgyz citizen.
- What about relations with Turkey? Is it excellent?
Not really. There is a whole range of problems, the main of which is that Erdogan will squeeze the issue of Gulen influence in Kyrgyzstan, which we have. Quite a lot of people, including among the elite studied in Turkish lyceums. Our society is so arranged that it does not remove everything that has already entered. Nobody will clean out the Gulenovites with a "broom", the society itself is not ready for this.
The same Turkish schools "Sebat", now renamed "Zapat", on the whole are the best educational institutions in the country. Which teach mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, English. And all the regional elite raised their children, this is at least. Therefore it is good that so far there is a warm between Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
It is profitable for us to cooperate with respect in relations with Turkey, of course taking into account the observance of our national interests and our economy. For Kyrgyzstan, it is advantageous to delay this issue for as long as possible and not at the same time dealing with Erdogan.
- Is there no such problem with China?
Kyrgyzstan and China have a good trend in relations established by the previous president. Economic cooperation is stable. All those problems that were in connection with tenders are the rot of a corrupt bureaucracy. And so the potential is still huge, including as a market.
But much depends on the quality of governance in Kyrgyzstan itself, but it is in terms of foreign policy - openness, understanding. As well as the readiness to develop initiatives and dialogue within the SCO framework, this is the key structure through which China works besides bilateral relations.
In general, it is difficult to say how long Bishkek will conduct such a stable foreign policy. Now there is a certain consensus, a symphony, which is extremely difficult to observe, as Kyrgyzstan is surrounded by large countries with great interests. Sometimes they are like tectonic plates at which point they start to press us.
Therefore it is important, from the very beginning of the presidency of Sooronbai Jeenbekov, to attach a clear principle on how country builds relations. For everyone to understand clearly what the criteria are for building relationships, that Kyrgyzstan is not a closed country, multi-vector, but, priority areas, it clearly defines and respects.
Now Russia plays a priority role in key issues, ranging from migrants and trade turnover, military assistance, including military-technical, so Russia is a priority.
The author of the article is Denis Berdakov, an expert on Central Asian countries.