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AKIPRESS.COM - President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambaev held his final press conference on November 20 in the state residence Ala-Archa.
Beginning the session, Atambayev asked the participants to be precise with their questions as the session will last about 2 hours instead of usual 3 hours.
140 journalists took part in the press conference that lasted 2 hours and 24 minutes.
The head of state answered various questions including criminal cases against politicians, the politics, relations with neighbors, President-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Kyrgyzstan's economy, and gave other commentaries.
Here are the highlights from what Atambayev talked about in his final press conference:
About his presidency
"I feel huge relief," Atambayev said in response to a journalist's question about how he fells about leaving the president's post.
"These six years were difficult and very long for me, I had many sleepless nights and had to work all the time. I went to bed at 12am and woke up at 5 am. Doctors said I'm OK, but I have a chronic fatigue. I fell great relief, I can sleep a lot now, go somewhere to have a sleep," he said.
"There were very hard times when the country was on the verge of collapse and even on the brink of war," Atambayev said noting that it's hard to recollect.
"It was indeed a heavy cross, and God gave me health and strength to bear it," Atambayev said.
Atambayev is holding his final press conference on November 20.
About President-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov
Sooronbai Jeenbekov is more of a diplomat than Atambayev, he said.
"I know my friend Soke [Sooronbai Jeenbekov] for 21 years. He was with me in all the hard times. I am confident that he will follow the chosen path. But if he will not, he will get what he deserves. Now the Constitution and the people are different," Atambayev said.
"What must the new president do? The new president must help the government. The new president is a wise and experienced man. I think in 22 years we know each other he learned a lot from me. Something he knows on his own. I only have to help him with my personal ties, let's say, from abroad," Atambayev said.
He also commented on appointment of Jusupbek Sharipov, Sooronbai Jeenbekov's brother, as Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine. He said the decision was made a long time ago, but he was appointed only now.
"I have given this order [about appointment] a long time ago. It just so happened that Jusupbek Sharipov was appointed today," he said.
Now, according to Atambayev, people will say that "Jeenbekov is pro-Ukrainian and eats bacon", and that people will start gossiping about Sharipov's appointment.
Sharipov was named Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine on November 16. Prior to this appointment, he served as Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Kuwait, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Bahrain in conjunction with the residence in the city of Kuwait.
About politics and politicians
"It's better to leave on time and switch to a parliamentary form of rule," Atambayev said.
51 out of 53 developed nations have a parliamentary form of rule. Only France and US have presidential form of government, but they are already questioning it, for example USA. "Although it has a presidential form of government, nothing can be done without the Congress," he said.
"Kyrgyzstan must follow the German model, which is the most appropriate. We first need such amendments to the law on elections so that the oligarchs did not make it to the parliament. Now what we have is initially, the parties' come up with one list, and then completely different people come to parliament. That's not how it's supposed to be. Step by step, we must come to parliamentary form of ruling by 2040," he said.
Commenting on launching criminal cases against some politicians, including presidential election runner-up Omurbek Babanov, Atambayev said: "Omurbek Babanov had a bright future. But he went against his own people."
Babanov's On-Adyr campaign speech became a reason why he is being probed for incitement to ethnic and interracial hatred. Authorities in Kyrgyzstan claim that Babanov in his speech to the Uzbek community in the village of On-Adyr in the Osh region tried to incite ethnic unrest.
"Did you hear what Babanov said in On-Adyr? Nobody forced him to say that," Atambayev said.
"I feel sorry for Babanov. He would have a bight future if he did not go against his people, did not get sold for money and would follow the straight path," he said.
"He would win if he did not go abroad to bend his knees to oligarchs like Utemuratov [Bulat Utemuratov, one of the richest men in Kazakhstan]. Of course I feel sorry about him, he is a young man. But apparently he was infected with the bacteria of Maksimchik [Maksim Bakiyev, a son of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev] and Aidarchik [Aidar Akayev, a son of ousted president Askar Akayev]," he said.
On relations with neighbors
One of the first questions he was asked was about relations with Kazakhstan. "Situation with Astana will for sure improve, because it is in the interests of Astana itself and Russia in the first place," said President Almazbek Atambayev.
"Everything will be alright and I think I was right, because in the next election no one will dare to meddle in our domestic affairs," Atambayev said in his final press conference on November 20.
Atambayev pointed out that at his latest talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he noted the role of the Eurasian Economic Commission.
Tensions between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan arouse in mid-October when Kazakhstan switched to an enhanced border control mode, which resulted in logjam of trucks reportedly 10-15 km long and economic losses in Kyrgyzstan.
Later he said that the "relations with Kazakhstan did not worsen a little bit, Kazakhstan blockaded us."
"There is a saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." The situation on the border makes us only stronger. I think I gave a good lesson for future so that no one would meddle in our domestic affairs and the 2020 parliament elections and any other elections. I don't think that Kazakhstan has only pluses in this situation and we got only minuses. I would rather say, in the opposite way we will only become stronger, and everything could happen in Kazakhstan, everything is possible," he said.
"I don't regret about teaching "not to meddle in our affairs." We must respect ourselves. The situation will get better, because it is absolutely not beneficial for Kazakhstan," he said.
As for other neighbors of Kyrgyzstan, Atambayev said the country should sign the document on the border lines with Tajikistan under the same law. According to him, Kyrgyzstan defined a half of the border line with Tajikistan and was ready to sign this document on the second half of the border line.
However, Tajikistan wants to consider the laws of 1926th-1925th years while defining the remaining half of the border line. "That's not serious. Then I offered to look at the 1924th, when Tajikistan did not exist even," Atambayev said.
The head of state said that the two countries first agreed on using the same document and principles while defining the first and second halves of the border line.
"But some people that have been working for a long time convinced Emomali Rahmon...It's a pity, of course, that there are such assistants like those. But these issues will be resolved. We just need to consolidate the efforts. Now we should raise the economy faster," he noted.
Commenting on the Parliament's passing the draft law allowing glacier mining in Kyrgyzstan, he said 6,771 glaciers of Kyrgyzstan are melting not because of Kumtor, but because of global climate change.
The bill allows mining of 2 out of 6,771 glaciers, he said. "But what scares me more is the stopes in there. I've been to Kumtor not a single time. There is already a lake of stopes. That's why Kyrgyzstan must always remain as a shareholder of the Centerra Gold, because the company bought beneficial deposits, it will develop and get richer. These stopes must be Centerra's responsibility because Canada is very demanding regarding this issue, and we must be so," he said.
"These two glaciers stared being mined 23 years ago, but treatment facilities are the ones that pose threat to us," he said. The company must spend more on environment protection, he said.
"When they say the Centerra must be expelled from Kyrgyzstan and Kumtor should be taken away, listen, in that case we only will have glacier remains and the whole poisonous lake. They made money our of it, let them continue to work, but be responsible for environment as well. I will decide on signing or rejecting the law in several days. This is the most important question I am studying now," Atambayev said.
As for the energy project, he said the Upper-Naryn cascade HPPs will be built in Kyrgyzstan. "I will, perhaps, personally seek for the investor, but the Upper-Naryn dams will be built in Kyrgyzstan. We will find a new investor for the HPPs," he said.
"Moreover, the case with the Liglass Trading CZ s.r.o. will be a good lesson for the next investors: they came and lost $1 million. Once you came, you must fulfill your obligations," he said. He added that the Kambar-Ata HPP will be built together with Uzbekistan.
Price for Megacom is overestimated and underbidding by 25-30% is necessary, said President Almazbek Atambayev at his final press conference on Monday. "Only one buyer was found, the price is overestimated and that buyer did not inspire confidence. I think the price must be brought down by 25-30%. If anybody will offer more, we'll use that money for implementation of the safe city project," he said.
Culture and society
Atambayev said a house will be built for workers of culture and 300-400 million som were allocated for the development of culture.
“The first stone of the house for culture workers will be laid a day after tomorrow,” Atambayev said.
According to him, a lot of things have been done in the sphere of culture during the Year of Morality, Education and Culture, including a new theater in Talas, Days of Kyrgyz Culture in Moscow, the Altai civilization forum and others.
About his family
Atambayev also responded to several questions related to his family members.
Answering the question what the First Lady Raisa Atambayeva feels about his presidential term's ending, he said "First Lady is happy indeed. Now she is very glad, to be honest, and I am glad," President Almazbek Atambayev said.
Following the allegations that the plane that crashed into village near Manas airport earlier in 2017 had a cargo of jewelry of Atambayev, "she fell ill and had to undergo half a year treatment," he said.
In a separate question how often Atambayev sees his grandson, the outgoing President said: "Well, yesterday I had such day, for about an hour between the meetings, I was visited by my daughter, her husband and my grandson. Grandson is a huge joy. I think he will learn to walk before he turns 1," he said.
Speaking about the future, Atambayev said "if I am remembered in 100-200 years, I would like to be remembered with a kind word."
"I would like to be remembered as a person who has revived traditions, self-respect and a lot of other things. I want to continue working, honestly, in the field of language and culture. In general, one must live a life not for the sake of that words written in 100 years, but try to help people," he noted.