30/08 09:54

Dozens of Iranian companies operating in Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyz ambassador


The Kyrgyz ambassador to Iran says the fact that many Iranian companies are operating in Kyrgyzstan indicates that relations between Tehran and Bishkek are good.    Ambassador Medethan Sh. Sherimkulov made the remarks during a meeting with a group of reporters at Kyrgyzstan’s Embassy in Tehran on August 24, a week before the 20th anniversary of the Kyrgyz Republic’s independence, which is celebrated on August 31.    Sherimkulov described the ties between Iran and Kyrgyzstan as “good” and expressed hope that the level of relations would increase in various spheres.    However, he said that the value of trade between the two countries decreased after opposition protests erupted in Kyrgyzstan in April 2010, sweeping former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power.   Sherimkulov added that the value of annual trade between Tehran and Bishkek is currently $17 million, expressing hope that this figure would increase to $50 million in the future.    He said more than 170 Iranian or Iranian-Kyrgyz companies are operating in Kyrgyzstan, many of which are engaged in construction of roads and houses.    Two hundred kilometers of the 600-kilometer-long road connecting Bishkek and Osh have been constructed by Iranian engineers, the ambassador added.   But there is untapped potential, Sherimkulov said, adding that the Iranian and Kyrgyz companies can cooperate in many other fields, such as building dams.    The Kyrgyz ambassador also stated that 50 to 100 Iranians are granted visas each week to visit Kyrgyzstan.    There is a direct flight from Mashhad to Bishkek every Sunday, he added.    The ambassador also said that Tehran and Bishkek have many cultural affinities and have similar views on many issues.    Sherimkulov thanked the Islamic Republic for its moral and financial support to the Kyrgyz people.    In addition, the ambassador said that his country has made good progress since it won independence in 1991.   He added that Kyrgyzstan is currently a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and some other international organizations.     Iran was among the first countries which recognized the independence of the Central Asian republic after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Later on November 27, 1991, Tehran and Bishkek signed a friendship and cooperation deal. The agreement was signed between Iran’s then foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and Ambassador Sherimkulov, who was Kyrgyzstan’s parliament speaker at the time.    Election will stabilize Kyrgyzstan    The ambassador then spoke about the presidential election, which is scheduled to be held in Kyrgyzstan on October 30, 2011, expressing hope that it would help stabilize the country.    According to analysts, the election is of great significance because this is the first presidential election under a new constitution that shifted power away from the president towards parliament.    Sherimkulov said that by the deadline of August 16, 83 people applied to run for the election, three of which withdrew later.    He added that under the rules anybody could register for the presidential election, but the hopefuls need to collect 30,000 signatures, pay a fee, and pass a Kyrgyz language test to be approved.    People wishing to stand as president must be between 35 to 70 years old, Sherimkulov added.    Campaigning officially begins on September 25, he said.    Sherimkulov also stated that Kyrgyz nationals living in Iran can cast their ballots at the Kyrgyz Embassy.    U.S. base in Manas poses no threat    After the press conference, the Kyrgyz ambassador gave an interview to the Tehran Times, in which he said that the U.S. military air base in Manas poses no threat to other countries.    The Kyrgyz ambassador said that the base was established with the purpose of fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan, adding it poses no threat to neighboring or far-off countries.    He added that the base will remain on Kyrgyz soil only till peace is restored in Afghanistan.    Transit Center at Manas (formerly Manas Air Base) is a U.S. military base at Manas International Airport, outside the capital, Bishkek.   The base was opened in December 2001 to support U.S. military operations in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. It has hosted forces from several other International Security Assistance Force member states as well. The base is a transit point for U.S. military personnel coming and going from Afghanistan.    Kyrgyzstan has great respect for Russia    Asked about relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia, Sherimkulov stated that the two countries are bounded by historical ties, adding that Moscow has provided great assistance to Kyrgyz people.   Kyrgyzstan has great respect for Russia, the ambassador stated.    Sherimkulov went on to say that Bishkek is keen to foster relations with developed Western countries to be able to use their technology and make Kyrgyzstan progress.    He added that certain Western countries have provided Kyrgyzstan with financial assistance and the strengthening of relations with them is in the best interests of the country.    He also said that Bishkek is interested in developing ties with Asian countries and is cooperating well with Iran, China, Japan, and Malaysia.    Sherimkulov was asked to comment on the fact that the United States supports parliamentary system in Kyrgyzstan while Russia says such a system could allow extremists to seize power.    The ambassador said that countries may have differing views on this point, but Kyrgyzstan is the only country in Central Asia where parliamentary democracy was established after voters gave clear approval to a new constitution giving parliament more power in a referendum held on June 27, 2010.    He emphasized that only time will tell if the democratic parliamentary system has been successful.    Human rights should be respected    Commenting on the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan, Sherimkulov said that under the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, human rights should be respected, expressing hope that the human rights situation in the country would improve after the election. 


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