Euronews correspondent Natasha Richardson sat down the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambyev, to talk about his country’s economic ambitions and the fight against terror.
euronews: Mr. Atambayev, your country is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, and this year even presides in this union. Don’t you think that this union reflects the interests of Russia in the first place?
Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan: We are ready to join the European Union even today. I suggested it, but I got an open answer: we do not have common borders. Then what are you offering to us? We have 6 million people. Should we isolate ourselves and live in the jungle, or what? We need to develop, we need a market.
euronews: How do you see the conflict in eastern Ukraine?
Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan: In 2010, after our revolution, we also had a conflict in June, inter-ethnic clashes were organized. I believe certain special services were behind that. But you know, our district and regional administrations were also captured. I was prime minister, then president, but I never called (meaning telephone calls) Moscow or Washington. I myself went to these places. And when I was told: let’s, for example, cut off a certain area, they blocked roads, let’s stop paying them pensions, turn off the electricity, I said, listen, then these people just say that we don’t speak as one country. By the way, when there was a revolution in Ukraine, I certainly supported it.
euronews How does your country struggle with ISIS and terrorism in general?
Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan: We were able to strengthen significantly our anti-terrorist centre over the years, over the past years. All of these troubles, ISIS….. radical movements arise because of people’s illiteracy. In the recent years, last year, this year we are spending on education not 4-5% of our budget as other countries but 24%.
euronews: But your country is tracking the Kyrgyz people, who, for example, go to fight in Syria?
Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan: Of course. We work with the countries where they are hiding, the countries that do not extradite such people. Of course, we work in this area very actively.