Kazakh PM Treks to Kyrgyzstan, Discusses EAEU, Tourism

ASTANA – On Sunday, July 19, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov paid a one-day visit to Kyrgyzstan where he discussed bilateral cooperation with his counterpart Temir Sariyev, as well as issues related to Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Issyk Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan.

Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan.

Massimov announced he walked to Cholpon Ata, a town on northern shore of the Lake Issyk-Kul, Kazakhstanskaya Pravda reported. The prime minister and part of the accompanying delegation did so by trekking the Zailisky Alatau range, part of the Tien Shan mountains, separating Almaty from a favoured destination for the city’s vacationers.

Welcoming his guest, Sariyev expressed his appreciation of Astana’s support for Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which among other changes envisions elimination of customs control at the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border.

Sariyev said he looked forward to an increase in Kazakh vacationers’ visits to Kyrgyz resorts. Massimov responded by saying that for the first time since his student days he did not come on wheels but actually walked to the Issyk Kul.

“I didn’t use any type of transportation. I literally walked on foot to Issyk Kul. I crossed the border [not far from] the Khan Tengri. Kyrgyzstan is entering the EAEU, which means that our borders will open soon. I hope that all people in Kazakhstan will take up the lead and walk to Issyk Kul just as I did,” said Massimov.

Khan Tengri is a 7,010-metre peak on the border between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China.

The Kyrgyz prime minister also raised the issue of the construction of a shortcut highway between Almaty and Cholpon-Ata.

“We have managed to put on track a direct flight from Almaty to Tamchy, but this is not enough. We should build a high-speed road from Almaty to Cholpon-Ata. The road will pass through Kemin and Mikhailovka. We could set a task to our government bodies to work on this issue. We have finished construction of the road to Kemin (Bishkek-Naryn-Torugart), which is on our side. When the road will be fully finished, the distance will be cut to only 250 kilometres. [Guests] from Kazakhstan will be able to get to the Issyk Kul in 2.5 hours,” he said.

In turn, Massimov instructed the members of his delegation to speed up the feasibility studies of the highway construction project.

“I think this is a good path. We have agreed to sign a corresponding intergovernmental agreement in order for people [to use] this trail to enjoy the beauty of Kyrgyzstan,” Massimov said.

Sariyev also proposed to consider the transfer of 800 metres of the Kazakh transit road into the use of Kyrgyzstan. The Bishkek-Naryn-Torugart highway passes near to Tokmok town through the territory of Kazakhstan.

“We propose to adopt a separate agreement on the use of our side of this piece of the area. We will be soon in a common economic union. If this agreement is signed, we will take responsibility to maintain this section of the road,” the Kyrgyz prime minister explained.

Kyrgyz sources have reported that the prime ministers also agreed on an uninterrupted supply of Kazakh coal to Kyrgyzstan.

The Kazakh government’s website reported July 20 on another Kazakh-Kyrgyz meeting on a senior level, this time in Astana. According to the press release, Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev assured the visiting Kyrgyz Minister of Economy

Oleg Pankratov of Astana’s commitment to continue providing methodological, technical and financial assistance to the Kyrgyz partners in joining the EAEU. Among concrete issues discussed in this regard, the release named eliminating sanitary-quarantine, veterinary and phytosanitary controls at the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border. The trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reached $924 million in 2014, according to Kyrgyz government statistics.

Kyrgyzstan is set to become the fifth member of the EAEU within weeks, following President Almazbek Atambayev’s signature of the necessary paperwork at a Moscow summit on May 8 and ratification of the related agreements in parliaments of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Russia and Armenia.

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