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Atambayev’s visit. What Kyrgyzstan can offer to Belgium and Germany

The President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev is going to make a European tour again. He will visit Belgium and Germany from February 15 till February 18. He plans a number of meetings, including with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In addition, the European Union is ready to allocate to Kyrgyzstan more than €100 million for agriculture and the rule of law support.

Friendship with the King of Belgium

There has been recorded a revival in the bilateral political relations with the European Union in recent years. Visits of the Kyrgyz President to Belgium took place in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The deputies of the Kyrgyz Parliament also had time in 2016 to go to Brussels — so to say, «to get acquainted and outline perspectives.»

As the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sapar Isakov told, Almazbek Atambayev and the King Philippe of Belgium became friends. They have developed a trusting, friendly relationship. The head of the Kyrgyz Republic can not but will come to Belgium and pay a visit to the King.

Just imagine: a friend knows that you arrived, but did meet with him. Friends do not do that.

Sapar Isakov
Trade turnover between the countries is growing like the friendship between the two leaders. According to the Ministry of Economy, for the first 9 months of 2016 it amounted to $ 16,342 million. Exports amounted to $ 8,489 million, import — $ 7,853 million.

Kyrgyzstan exports to Belgium gold, antimony and its compounds, automobile parts, non-ferrous metals, radiators, products from ferrous metals.

Belgium supplies to Kyrgyzstan industrial equipment, mechanical devices, equipment and components, vehicles, pharmaceutical, perfumery and cosmetic products, food products, lubricants, paper, cardboard and products made of it.

The sides also do not forget about cultural development. In 2016, cinemas in Belgium screened a documentary 'A man and a horse' about a journey to Kyrgyzstan by a French film director v. Robinot.

Business with Merkel

Almazbek Atambayev traveled to Germany in 2012 and 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a return visit to the Kyrgyz Republic in July 2016. No specific arrangements had been reached then, but the public actively discussed possible resettlement of refugees from Europe into the country.

Kyrgyzstan is interested in cooperation with Germany on the basis of provided by the European Union GSP Plus status having which «Made in Kyrgyzstan» products have a good chance to enter the EU market. Simply put, the country can supply more than 6,000 items without customs duties.

Only nine countries have such a possibility. In 2014–2015, Georgia, Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Peru had GSP Plus status.

The last six countries were expelled from the list in 2016 and only Georgia, Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan have such a status now.

However, in order to conquer the European market, the country has to prove its competitiveness and to resolve the issue with the laboratories.

Nuances of grant aid

During the president’s visit, the European Union will allocate money for the development of agriculture in the regions. Kyrgyzstan asks to direct it on ensuring the drinking water supply.

Under the rule of law program, €30 million will be provided for the modernization of the legislative process. This is one more tranche. Earlier, the European Union has already allocated €9.5 million to strengthen the rule of law in Kyrgyzstan and another €30 million — in the framework of macro-financial assistance.

About €72 million are planned for agriculture program. The money will be spent on the development of seven regions of the country within 7 years. The first tranche is aimed for Jalal-Abad region.

«The President asked to allocate money to provide the regions with clean drinking water. It will be of great benefit to the country," Sapar Isakov said.

Kyrgyzstan has already taken money for it. The project was funded by the Asian Development Bank. However, its implementation was delayed and the donors refused to sponsor it.

«Expected results were not got because of the gross errors of designers, contractors, enactors, and the presence of corruption schemes," the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov admitted. «As a result, ADB has refused to cooperate in providing drinking water supply to settlements indefinitely and suspended the allocation of funds.»

Now, the State Service for Combating Economic Crimes shall examine the reasons that led to such a situation, find the perpetrators and take measures.

And the reason is the same: corruption in public administration system. One should be extremely cautious taking into account the fact that Kyrgyzstan receives grant money. Free cheese is only found in a mousetrap, and it is not known what consequences this aid will have in future.