Your Excellency Foreign Minister, Ruslan Kazakbaev,
Friends from Media,
I am very happy to visit this beautiful land of "Manas” - the land of Kyrgyz mountain peoples. This is my first official visit to Kyrgyz Republic as Foreign Minister. While I had met Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev in Dushanbe last month, his warm invitation then encouraged me to pay a visit so soon.
2. India and Kyrgyz Republic traditionally share close and cordial relations underpinned by historical and civilizational ties. India was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Kyrgyz Republic and establish diplomatic relations. Our relations have traversed a positive trajectory since then.
3. The periodic high-level exchanges between the two countries has been useful in strengthening and expanding the horizons of our bilateral relations. Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Bishkek in June 2019 saw the relations elevated to that of a strategic partnership. Kyrgyzstan was a special Guest-of-honour at Prime Minister Modi’s swearing in after re-election in May 2019, which was very well-received in India.
4. I had today a detailed and productive meeting today morning with Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev on various facets of our cooperation. We shared an overall sense that our bilateral relations are progressing very well. One area that needs a concerted push from both sides is bilateral trade and investments. We agreed to encourage our Chambers and business to work closely while the governments will continue to play a facilitative role. The signing of the new Bilateral Investment Treaty in 2019 and the mutual agreement on date of entry into force of the Amended Protocol of the India-Kyrgyz Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) are important steps in that regard. Connectivity, which is a major impediment to our bilateral trade, also figured prominently in our discussions. We believe that respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is a prerequisite for any connectivity initiative.
5. Development Cooperation is gradually emerging as an important pillar of our ccoperation. Our telemedicine centers have helped Kyrgyz people in rural areas get connected to medical facilities in cities. The provision of Bhabhatron in Bishkek has been useful in diagnosis of cancers not only for residents of Bishkek but across the country. We are committed to providing another Bhabhatron for the hospital in Osh.
6. I am happy to make two significant announcements today that will take our development partnership to the next level : (i) the formal offer of USD 200 million Line of Credit by Government of India and its acceptance by the Government of Kyrgyz Republic and (ii) the signing of the MoU on High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) that will enable implementation of quick community development projects in various sectors for the benefit of common people under full grant funding by Government of India. These amply demonstrate the gains from a constructive relationship between our two countries for the betterment of common people.
7. As part of our evolving development partnership paradigm, we agreed to explore joint-development projects in the fields of eco tourism, jewellery-design, pharma, medicines, medical education, IT Parks & data-banks etc. India will also support establishment of three more Tele-Medicine Centers in Batken, Jalal-Ababd, and Chui regions of Kyrgyz Republic.
8. Minister Kazakbaev and I agreed on greater emphasis on preservation and promotion of our cultural links. To commemorate the current Year of India-Kyrgyz Cultural Exchanges (2021-22), our Embassy in Bishkek has organized various events like Yoga Day, cultural shows, photo exhibitions etc despite the Covid pandemic. Among other initiatives, worth mentioning is the "Mahatma Gandhi- Manas Library” which was dedicated to public services in Bishkek, in May 2021. A Hindi-Kyrgyz Dictionary of Words of Common Origin, jointly worked by Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Kyrgyz State Language Commission, is being officially released today. I would also like to announce a gift of Indian books to Manas-Mahatma Gandhi Library of the Kyrgyz Manas Chingiz Aitmatov Foundation. Having seen a little bit of Kyrgyz landscape yesterday on my arrival, I am convinced that the picturesque Kyrgyz lakes and peaks offer excellent destinations for Bollywood productions. An incentive-package by Kyrgyz side may open new avenues for Bollywood film shootings.
9. Given our common interest in maintaining peace and security in the region, defence and security cooperation occupies an important place in our relations. We evaluated our defence exchanges and personnel-training very positively. We agreed to continue cooperation in the fields of high-altitude training and biomedical research. The conduct of annual military exercise Khanjar despite the constraints of Covid pandemic is noteworthy.
10. Exchange of views on developments in the region, in particular, the Afghan situation and its implications for the peace and security of the region, occupied some time in our discussions. We are closely following the developments in Afghanistan. It concerns all of us. Any instability in Afghanistan will have an impact in the region. There are expectations of the international community from the current regime in Afghanistan, which are adequately elaborated in the UNSCR 2593.
11. On the multilateral front, both our countries support each other in the UN and other multilateral forums including the SCO. We agreed to continue with the tradition of our constructive partnership in the multilateral fora.
12. This is an important year in the calendar of Kyrgyz Republic as well as India. While you are celebrating the 30th anniversary of your independence, we are celebrating 75 years of our independence. We would also be celebrating 30th anniversary of establishment of our diplomatic relations next year.
13. I look forward to calling on the President of Kyrgyz Republic H.E. Mr. Sadyr Japarov today and seek his guidance on how to further strengthen our otherwise excellent bilateral relationship.
14. Overall, I would say that our bilateral relations with Kyrgyz Republic have strengthened and grown over the years. While I am satisfied with the current state of our relations, we need to put greater effort in the economic sphere.
15. I once again thank Foreign Minister Kazakbaev profusely for his generous hospitality and agreeing to host me at such a short notice. I extend an invitation to him to visit India at a convenient time.
Chong Rehmat (Thank you)
October 11, 2021