President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbai Zheenbekov today, on August 29, gave another interview to Birinchi radio of the Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation.
Below is the full transcript of the interview with the Head of State.
- Good afternoon, dear radio listeners. The next issue of the program "Frank Conversation with the President" is on air. We traditionally have the opportunity to ask a few questions to the Head of State.
Good afternoon Sooronbai Sharipovich.
- Good afternoon.
- Dear President, our today's conversation takes place on the eve of Independence Day. Happy holiday to you!
- Thank you. I congratulate you, all compatriots on the Independence Day of the Kyrgyz Republic.
I wish all the very best to every Kyrgyz citizen, to every family.
- On the eve of a significant holiday, which is of great importance for our statehood and history, please tell us what worries you the most as the Head of State, what is your vision of the future of our country?
Have our people and those in power fully realized the value of independence?
How do you see Kyrgyzstan in the future, in 15-20 years? Perhaps at that time there will already be the results of the work begun during your presidency.
- At present, as the Head of State, within the framework of my powers, I am making every effort to develop our state.
I am deeply convinced that Kyrgyzstan will be a developed country.
You are right, it takes years to realize the value of independence.
Over the years since gaining independence, our country has gone through many difficult periods of its development. There have been ups and downs. There were achievements and failures.
Our wise people have always united into a single fist in the face of danger and rejoiced in unity in all victories and achievements.
So during the recent outbreak of the pandemic in the country, our citizens demonstrated unity and civic responsibility.
This disease was a kind of strength test for both our people and our state.
In the modern history of our country, many such trials have fallen to the lot of the people, among which the most tragic and difficult was, perhaps, 2010.
We all remember that the April events were followed by the tragic June events. The Osh events will be inscribed in the history of the country in black letters, as the most difficult period in the life of the people. They led to the realization of the value of peace and harmony. The values of unity. The values of independence. They recalled the importance of statehood.
This was a great lesson for both the people and the authorities.
What lessons we could learn from all this is, of course, another question.
We are obliged to convey the lessons of this tragedy not only to the present generation, but also to the next generation. These events should serve as a lesson not only for me, but also for future heads of state and politicians in general.
Of course, there should be political disputes, struggle, competition, etc. But disputes or ambitions of an individual or political group should not undermine the foundations of statehood.
This is especially becoming relevant now, on the eve of the parliamentary elections.
There is no need to create problems for both society and the state, trying to show their political skills.
If this becomes the basic rule for every politician, then we can talk about the formation of a new political culture.
I have already said that the priorities in my presidential activity are the development policy of our regions, the digitalization of the country, the provision of the population with clean drinking water, which directly affects the health of the nation, and the improvement of the irrigation system.
My compatriots know this well. And I feel their support and am grateful for it.
Especially during meetings with residents of the regions, I make sure that these areas of work are not temporary or accidental, they are promising national projects that will have a positive impact on the life of our people in 15-20 years.
And the people support these efforts, on the ground people themselves begin to provide active assistance in solving these problems. We must understand that these problems have been accumulating from year to year, for many years.
During my meetings with people, I say that work in this direction will continue and intensify. These tasks were reflected in my election program.
Every citizen wants to live in a country where his safety is ensured, there is access to quality medicine, quality education, and ecologically clean food. And so that children live in such a country.
All our current efforts are aimed at meeting this need of our citizens.
This is the essence of my work.
Therefore, I, both as the current President and as a citizen, are confident that Kyrgyzstan will become such a prosperous country. And, as President, I direct all my knowledge, capabilities and experience to achieve this goal.
- From the moment you took office as President, you attach great importance to the development of the regions. You recently visited almost all regions of the country and got acquainted with the situation on the ground. You always note that “a developed village is a developed state”. Is there a chance that we will manage to achieve a good level of regional development before the end of your presidential term?
- Before that, we had no regional development program. It should be admitted that their interests and their level of development were not taken into account. In order to develop the regions, first of all, it is necessary to resolve the financial issue. Local businesses need to provide certain benefits for development.
The most important achievement in the development of the regions is that we were able to redirect the country's financial resources to the countryside.
In order not to be unfounded, I would like to note that according to the results of the last 2 years and 7 months, more than 68.8 billion soms have been provided in the form of loans and guarantees. This is a good indicator.
We directed funds from banks, the Guarantee Fund, the Kyrgyz-Russian Fund, external financial institutions to the development of the regions. They have already launched their activities on the ground.
Currently, residents of the regions no longer need to knock down the doorstep of various financial institutions to receive funds. And this is our achievement. This issue is under my control. Now banks, funds, foreign donors themselves come to the regions and are looking for promising projects to invest - we have managed to achieve this. Of course, I'm not saying that everything has already fallen into place. Of course, there are still some drawbacks and shortcomings. We will consistently eliminate them.
The volume of loans provided is growing every year. And it will increase even more. All our efforts are aimed at ensuring that these loans were provided for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, for the needs of entrepreneurs. Thanks to the resources provided, the number of entrepreneurs in the regions will increase every year.
I would like to note once again that if in 2017 there were 3,727 small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the regions, and in 2018 - 4,051, then today their number is already 4,421.
Why do I pay special attention to the development of regions?
Because the regions have great potential for creating new jobs. There are great opportunities.
At the same time, a large flow of external and internal migration comes from the highlands and villages. In some villages, at times there were no people of working age left.
I will not say that we will return all those who left the country in search of work. But, as part of the development of the regions, we will create new jobs, which will encourage young people to stay and work in the village.
To this end, a regional development program was adopted, according to which it is planned to equate living conditions in 20 cities of the republic with the standard of living in the cities of Bishkek and Osh.
To channel funds and create conditions in them for the provision of quality services in the field of medicine, education, social protection.
Our achievement is that we have found funds to implement the program for the development of 20 cities.
We will increase the number of industrial enterprises in these 20 cities, regional centers and large cities. Business will create new jobs.
We will work to improve the quality of the healthcare system, educational institutions, and develop the processing industry.
In a word, the funds will be provided to everyone who intends to open an enterprise in the regions and create a new job, regardless of what their business will be based on - on the processing of local agricultural products or products from animal husbandry, or on the construction of a hotel in order to develop tourism, etc. .D.
The “Guarantee Fund” has increased its authorized capital.
It will also provide funds to regional entrepreneurs who do not have the ability to post collateral.
Another achievement of ours is that we have provided significant tax benefits. For 5 years, taxes will not be levied on new enterprises opened in the regions. Logistic centers, tractor and machine parks, cooperatives, equipment supplied from abroad were exempted from 4 types of taxes. 80% VAT removed. These tax incentives, funds provided and conditions created for entrepreneurs will contribute to the development of regions. And a decrease in the level of external and internal migration.
We have been an independent country for 29 years. Much has been said about the need to build processing plants in the regions. But, in the same Naryn region, processing enterprises have not yet been built.
We allocate funds for these purposes. We will develop both tourism and processing enterprises there. I recently visited the Naryn region myself. In the future, we will ensure that dairy enterprises buy all the milk produced, this is a market for selling products of the local population.
This is good for both breeding and agriculture.
We must also ensure that enterprises process wool, meat and skins purchased from the population. Our farmers and peasants should not carry their products to the market in bags or personally carry livestock. We need to create an environment where they can make online sales from home.
My goal is to achieve this goal before the end of my presidential term.
In the beginning it was difficult, many did not understand the tasks. At the present time, everything has already entered into a practical channel and is under control. God willing, in 3 years it will already begin to bear fruit. This is all done for the sake of the younger generation, for the sake of our children.
- Apart from the development of the regions, what other areas would you call priority areas in your presidential activity?
- The country's digitalization policy is going in parallel with the regional development policy.
This is also one of the main areas of my work. I started implementing this direction when I was Prime Minister and strengthened it when I became President.
The time will come and this direction will also bear fruit.
Our goal, in addition to creating favorable conditions for citizens, is to reduce corruption. We identify corrupt officials, imprison, and prosecute.
For example, with a credit of trust, a person was appointed to the position of the head of the railway. But it turned out that immediately after his appointment, he created a corruption scheme; currently, about 10 people are in prison in this case.
I am using this fact as an example.
It is impossible to completely get rid of corrupt officials by means of punitive measures, including arrests.
Digital technology is the main tool for preventing and reducing corruption.
Therefore, I pay special attention to the issue of digitalization of the country.
I would say that the introduction of digital technologies, especially in the spheres of health care, social protection, customs, taxation, in general in all areas that provide services to the population, is one of the main ways of developing our country.
Almost all states have gone through this path, they have gone much ahead in digitalization, and we, unfortunately, lagged behind.
But over the past 3 years, we have made significant progress. My goal is to bring our country to the forefront of digitalization in Central Asia.
Everyone knows about our electronic system "Tunduk", which was created in 2016 when I was Prime Minister. Our specialists traveled to Estonia to get acquainted with their experience in this area.
Our experience in the implementation of the "Tunduk" system was successful and interested other countries. This is also our achievement.
In the field of digitalization, we have excellent talented young professionals.
They need to create the necessary conditions, they will lead us forward. We create conditions, provide funds, and I am sure that the expected results will be.
When I ran for president, one of the main promises was the fight against corruption. This fight is going on.
But, apparently, it is not in vain that they say that "the humpbacked grave will fix it." Even after a change of staff, as in the example with the railway, sometimes nothing changes, on the contrary, some create corruption schemes, get involved in corruption.
All these manifestations will be eliminated through digitalization, which will contribute to the development of the economy and the reduction of corruption.
In addition, the Security Council was instructed to develop a draft new state strategy for combating corruption and eliminating its causes for 2021-2024.
The strategy has already been developed. The document will be considered shortly, in September at a meeting of the Security Council. This Strategy will also be a good tool to fight corruption and eliminate its causes.
At this meeting, we plan to review the results of the work of law enforcement agencies in the fight against corruption over the past two years. We will evaluate their work and determine plans for the future.
I would like to point out that in the fight against corruption one cannot divide it into large or small.
I say this because sometimes in society opinions are expressed that only petty corrupt officials are caught.
But it all starts small. It is necessary to identify both small and large corrupt officials.
In my opinion, those who steal the wealth of the state and the people should not be divided into large and small. We must consider all of them, small and large, to be thieves. And a thief should be treated like a thief.
The fight against corruption will not stop, it will continue.
One more direction - we started judicial reform. It is very difficult, there was a lot of opposition at the beginning of this path.
Many people said that "this reform may backfire on us, we will lose control over law enforcement agencies, there will be no order in the state." But I did not heed such statements and stood firm on the idea of reforming.
Despite the difficulties we started the reform.
I have noted more than once before that only the president's political will and funds are not enough. Life itself proves it.
The success of the reforms largely depends on the honor of each judge, heads of law enforcement agencies, their employees, in particular on the responsibility of each judge in the justice system.
The country will not develop without a fair judicial system. We know this. Therefore, this reform will continue, despite any difficulties.
A meeting of the Council on Judicial Reform will take place in September. We will take stock of the work, analyze the achievements and shortcomings. The requirements will be tough and we will continue this work.
Every person wants to have a roof over his head. He wants to live in his house.
Providing citizens with affordable housing is also one of my pre-election promises. We have made significant progress on this issue.
Mortgage loans, which were previously provided at 14%, are now issued at 6%.
Due to the pandemic, there was a financial deficit, as a result of which the pace of the project was slightly slowed down. However, this issue is under special control. Currently, not only state employees, but also any citizen can use the services of a state mortgage company.
Currently, the economy is starting to get back on track. This means that the volume of taxes will also increase. We will also increase the amount of funds for mortgages. This issue will always be under control.
- Sooronbai Sharipovich, the parliamentary elections will be held in a pandemic. This need is primarily due to the provision of political stability in the country. The election campaign will begin in a few days. As is known from international practice and from the history of Kyrgyzstan, elections are accompanied by confrontation between various political forces. Unfortunately, this process does not always take into account the security of the state and ordinary citizens. What do you think about this? After all, the peaceful conduct of elections is, first of all, a test for the President.
-You're right. There was an active discussion in the political environment about whether it is worth holding these elections in the current conditions. But we decided to hold elections for the sake of maintaining political stability.
Now all over the country there is a process of preparation for elections. Our main goal is to hold clean, transparent elections, to ensure the free expression of the will of our people.
It is necessary to have a stable working legislative body and executive branch.
How it will work is another matter, a subject for another discussion.
But for the development of the state, the fulfillment of the daily socio-economic requirements of the people, all branches of government must work on a stable basis.
This is a matter of sustainability and the future of the state.
We can say that the country is now entering the active phase of the electoral process.
Consequently, an even greater responsibility is placed on politicians who intend to take part in the elections.
Our politicians should not forget about this, they should be aware of their responsibility.
Yes, the public demands from me, as President, to ensure clean, transparent and fair elections.
At the same time, those demanding the fulfillment of their rights must also know their responsibilities.
Otherwise, there are many who know their rights very well, but completely forget or do not want to know about their duty to society.
There are those who demand observance of the rule of law, impose their rights, but do not at all intend to recognize the rights of others.
Why is democracy strong? Democracy is strong because the minority obeys the majority. And we have situations when the minority does not want to submit to the majority, trying to find other, radical solutions, imposing their opinion on the majority.
The main principle of democracy is that the minority must obey the majority. This is the strength of the principles of democracy.
Fair and transparent elections do not depend only on the President or the Central Election Commission.
I call on all parties to political responsibility, and my compatriots to political maturity.
We must all go through this serious political test in peace and harmony, in unity, without any special excesses. After all, the international community will monitor the situation in our country.
And I, as President, do and will do everything that is required of me to hold elections within the framework of the law.
This is my main concern.
- Dear Sooronbai Sharipovich, thank you for the conversation. I wish you success!
- And thank you! Good luck!
Happy Holidays again! May peace and harmony always reign on our land, and prosperity on our land!
May the Almighty protect our independent Kyrgyzstan!