25 June 2022

Saturday, 12:39


Kyrgyz president's visit to Azerbaijan sets priorities for long-term cooperation



Azerbaijani-Kyrgyz relations are probably going through their most interesting period in history. Dynamics of contacts between the two countries are evolving as expected. In today's world of unprecedented tension over the past decades, various countries are trying to find partners for bilateral dialogue that are sensitive to and understand each other's interests. Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan are undoubtedly two such countries. As the national leader Heydar Aliyev said during the celebrations of the millennial anniversary of the Manas epic: "Our hearts feel and understand each other as nothing else does."


Landmark visit

Official visit of the Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov to Azerbaijan is a good illustration of Heydar Aliyev's words. It can therefore be called very significant in a number of respects.

First of all, the visit took place during the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan, as well as the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between our countries. Despite the long history of relations and a dozen reciprocal visits by the leaders of the two countries, it was possible to sign the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan during this visit only. The document aims to take Baku and Bishkek to a completely new level of relations.

Since his first months in power, Sadyr Japarov has become increasingly interested in the Kyrgyz-Azerbaijani relations. This led to intensified contacts at the highest level, holding bilateral meetings with the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at various summits and other high-level events.

The incumbent Kyrgyz government has openly supported Azerbaijan during the liberation of its lands from Armenian occupation. President Japarov has repeatedly congratulated his Azerbaijani counterpart on Baku's victory. The previous Kyrgyz leadership was more reticent about Armenia's occupation of Garabagh and the adjacent territories. Moreover, in March 2017, the Kyrgyz prime minister, who was attending the 13th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation in Islamabad, refused to sign a statement supporting the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. The Azerbaijani side reacted negatively to this act of the Kyrgyz side.

Position of the current Kyrgyz leadership is completely opposite. Partly because Sadyr Japarov sees Azerbaijan as an important regional centre of power, which has demonstrated the competence to solve its own geopolitical problems by relying on its own potential. Furthermore, Bishkek considers Baku a potential source of investment and an important partner in regional and international organisations.


Declaration as agenda for tomorrow

Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan signed in Baku not only brings relations between the two countries to a new level, but also defines common priorities for long-term cooperation.

It is clear that the sides share common goals and priorities in both regional and international politics. Baku and Bishkek view the development of the Turkic cooperation format as a basis for realising their own interests and ensuring sustainable dialogue in the humanitarian sphere. The document focuses on intensifying cooperation in various areas, including trade, economy, investment, transport and logistics.

This is quite natural, as the trade turnover between our countries has hardly exceeded $10 million in the past three decades, although there is a strong and multi-million dollar potential for cooperation.

In his address during the meeting with his colleague Sadyr Japarov, President Ilham Aliyev said that the Azerbaijani companies would be interested in the energy sector of Kyrgyzstan. Later, at a meeting with the representatives of major Azerbaijani businesses, President Japarov confirmed his country’s interest in the Azerbaijani investment in the energy sector of the Kyrgyz economy, and offered to take part in the implementation of the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant and a number of other strategically important small and medium hydropower plants.

It is known that in recent years, the Azerenerji Energy Design and Research Institute has been actively involved in the development of projects for the construction of small and medium capacity substations and power plants in the country with the involvement of local companies. Thus, Azerbaijan has experience in implementing energy projects on its territory and could share it with Kyrgyzstan.

In general, economic cooperation between the countries is seen as a priority area for cooperation. During the visit, the parties also discussed the issue of opening respective trade chambers in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan to encourage mutual trade. This can be supported by a joint investment fund with a charter capital of $1 billion; this idea is promoted by the Kyrgyz side.

For Azerbaijani investors, Kyrgyzstan is also attractive for other reasons. This Central Asian country has significant natural mineral potential, including gold, silver, mercury, tungsten and tin. There are several gold deposits with reserves reaching more than 100 tons and two large deposits of mercury with reserves of more than 20,000 tons. Azerbaijan's Azergold, which has considerable experience in the domestic market, may also be interested in participating in the development of Kyrgyzstan's promising gold deposits.


Security means uniting

While the parties are still at the stage of exploring each other's investment opportunities, business is reluctant to invest large sums when the transport and logistics links remain uncoordinated. Therefore, the parties agreed to strengthen coordination in transport to greatly advance the implementation of related issues and topics.

Remarkably, one of the points of the joint Azerbaijani-Kyrgyz declaration is cooperation in training military personnel at specialised educational facilities of Azerbaijan. Bishkek highly appreciates the experience of army building in Azerbaijan duly demonstrated during the 44-day war for Garabagh.

Ensuring security is not a simple issue on the political agenda of the Central Asian states. In this, Bishkek's intention to adopt Azerbaijan's military-building experience can become one of the cornerstones of bilateral cooperation to ensue its long-term interests.

It is important that the visit also made a significant contribution to the development of Turkic integration. The initial priority of cooperation between the Turkic group states was not only multilateral, but also bilateral interaction between the member states. By strengthening the bilateral dialogue between Baku and Bishkek, the parties also improve the dialogue within the Turkic world by enriching it with new aspects and filling it with practical content.