– Your birthday and the Independence Day of the Kyrgyz Republic almost coincide. From the height of your life and political experience, how do you feel about sovereign Kyrgyzstan today?
Abdygany Erkebaev: Before answering, I would like to express my gratitude to your newspaper. As the first Minister of Press and Information of Kyrgyzstan, I of course read all the press published in the republic. First of all, to have varied information. And Rossiyskaya Gazeta was and remains one of my favorites.
As for my feelings… I feel satisfied that I have been able to contribute to many really important processes. Of course, there are moments I regret. Even in the format of Russian-Kyrgyz relations.
-What exactly do you regret?
Abdygany Erkebaev: I have always advocated close relations with Russia. Our countries and people are connected not only culturally and historically. We are, so to speak, blood relatives. That is why I have always taken an active position when it comes to communications with Russia. We must not lose contact. When I was Speaker of Parliament, the Russian language acquired official constitutional status, which I was happy about. And, at the same time, there are projects that were never implemented.
In the early 2000s, Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan with a group of officials and heads of state-owned companies to discuss the construction of the Kambar-Ata hydroelectric power plant. Russia was willing to invest $1.5 billion in this project. I was very worried that the discussion would go on too long. And unfortunately, the project has not yet been implemented.
I also regret that during all the years of independence the Kyrgyz-Chinese-Uzbek railway construction project was never carried out. Now, it seems that the idea is already taking on some more or less real characteristics, so let’s wait.
I am very saddened by the situation around the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. In 1992, as Deputy Prime Minister, on behalf of Askar Akayev, I assigned the Officers’ House building to this university. Together with the first ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Mikhail Romanov, we visited this building and approved the move. A lot of effort and money was invested in the university. By the way, I taught there myself when I left politics. But, unfortunately, now the university lags behind other educational institutions in many aspects. It is fantastic that Russia continues to support and invest in the development of Slavyansky. Let’s hope it catches up.
– What do you think of the Russian construction of secondary schools in Kyrgyzstan?
Abdygany Erkebaev: That’s a good sign! We return to better times in the format of bilateral cooperation in the field of education. After all, Russian education and science have always been at the highest level.
At one time, I, who had already received higher education here in my homeland and, frankly, was not entirely satisfied with the quality of teaching, decided to go to the Russian Federation. Deepen knowledge, communicate in scientific circles. I can talk about this a lot and for a long time: Moscow has become my spiritual capital for me. There was everything here: meetings with absolutely amazing figures of science, culture and art, exhibitions in museums, concerts in conservatories. Of course, in Kyrgyzstan we really lack this.
– While heading the Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic, he opposed the idea of transferring scientific institutes to the Ministry of Education. But now this has essentially happened…
Abdygany Erkebayev: Attempts to transfer scientific institutes to the ministry began during the time of Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Almazbek Atambayev also worked in this direction. By the way, he and I are actually old friends. We studied together in Moscow. I was always worried about his fate. We had better years and episodes of relationship cooling; He was always very emotional. And when he worked in the academy, Almazbek Sharshenovich, being president of the republic, did not want to give in, but in principle he wanted to liquidate the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic. He intended to make it a public organization. I publicly opposed him, which contributed to aggravating relations with him. When the president’s idea was discussed legislatively, I left the Academy of Sciences in protest.
For me, the example of the President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Alexander Nesmeyanov, was indicative. He was not afraid to speak out against Khrushchev when he wanted to abolish the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, dividing it into branch academies and subordinating it to the relevant ministries. My deep conviction is that we must preserve what we have. It is possible to consider the integration of departments with the academy. And there is hope for our business when it becomes scientific sponsorship.
– In general, what were, in your opinion, the most serious errors in the process of establishing Kyrgyzstan as a sovereign State?
Abdygany Erkebaev: We get too carried away by politics. Very big mistakes were made during privatization, as well as in the process of redistributing foreign loans and subsidies. And, of course, they did not fight corruption well enough.
– After the collapse of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan opened its doors to various Western organizations. Was this an advantage or a blow to the country’s statehood?
Abdygany Erkebaev: I will say this: in everything there must be a sense of proportion. And even democracy must develop within certain limits.
– In liberal circles there is a popular rhetoric that Kyrgyzstan continues to live with its sights set on Moscow.
Abdygany Erkebaev: I will answer right away: no. I myself participated in many political and government processes related or not to Russia. And I can say that I have never observed pressure from the Kremlin. Which, by the way, cannot be said about other states, including neighboring ones. Another thing is that, in one way or another, the decisions made must take many aspects into account. And one of them is our strategic cooperation with the Russian Federation.
“The world is going through a very difficult time right now. What do you think the new world order will be like?
Abdygany Erkebaev: I support the desire for a multipolar world. It is unacceptable for a State to dictate global politics and economics. Maintaining such a regime would mean a return to colonial times.
If we talk about the situation in Ukraine, we, the Kyrgyz, are of course worried about everything that is happening. We all lived in one state, we were truly brotherly peoples and, of course, we really want all this to end as soon as possible. We in Kyrgyzstan must also conduct an analysis and draw our own conclusions. The multinational people of the Kyrgyz Republic, despite all ethnic, cultural and religious differences, must be preserved and, of course, the State must provide support in this regard.