MOSCOW, February 25 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow confirmed that its debt for the lease of the Kant base in Kyrgyzstan would be paid shortly, but admitted that Kyrgyzstan’s debt to Russia is a more complex issue.
“According to the information received from the participants in the recent talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev in Moscow, mutual debt settlements occupied a prominent place in the discussion that covered the whole range of issues, the state of and prospects for bilateral cooperation,” a source in the Kremlin said on Saturday, February 25.
“The Russian side confirmed its readiness to make a payment shortly for lease and use of infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan (about 15 million U.S. dollars),” it said.
“The payment of Kyrgyzstan’s state debt to the Russian Federation, which is nearly 500 million U.S. dollars (493 million U.S. dollars) is a more complex issue,” the source said.
The Russian side “showed understanding for the complexities experienced by the partners in connection with the financial and economic hardships in Kyrgyzstan, and confirmed its readiness to look for different solutions to this debt issue,” the source said.
“Therefore, prospects for solving this problem depend largely on the position of the Kyrgyz leadership,” it said.
Atambayev told Ekho Moskvy radio that lease payments for the Kant base have not been made for four years without President Medvedev being aware of this fact.
“At the same time, the government of Kyrgyzstan pays Russia interest on the debt and the base’s utility bills despite all problems. And I said: do we need this base? Medvedev was shocked and ordered the defence minister to pay all debts related to the base within ten days,” Atambayev said, adding that the sum in question was of about 15 million U.S. dollars.
“We are an independent country. There are certain agreements and it is necessary to learn to comply with them rather than act by the ‘I am big and you are small’ principle,” the president of Kyrgyzstan said.
He did not rule out that the Russian base at Kant might be closed after the U.S. Manas base. “We are now reviewing all agreements on the bases, including with Russia, and I did not rule out that we might choose a different road,” he said.
The president of Kyrgyzstan, who is making his first visit to Russia as head of state, had talks with the president of Russia on Friday, February 24.