Press Conference with Secretary Rumsfeld and Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Moderator: Ladies and Gentlemen, let us begin this press conference to discuss the outcome of the working visit of the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Mr. Rumsfeld, to the Kyrgyz Republic. Please be advised that we have only twenty minutes for this press conference. Please be brief and concise when formulating your questions. The first question comes from the Kyrgyz National Television and Radio Corporation:
Q: The question is for Mr. Rumsfeld. What are the main goals of your visit to the Kyrgyz Republic? And what are the plans of the United States in the fields of defense and security cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic?
Secretary Rumsfeld: I was very pleased to be able to visit your country. The world, of course, has been watching the events in Kyrgyzstan with great interest. I was pleased to be able to express our appreciation for the cooperation we have had with respect to the war on terror and the important movement towards democracy in Afghanistan -- and to tell the interim leadership here that the United States is wishing them well in the important work that they are engaged in in building a stable and modern and prosperous democracy.
Moderator: The next question is from the Reuters Agency.
Q: Mr. Prime Minister, Charles Aldinger with Reuters. I’d like to ask you, Sir, did you give Mr. Rumsfeld assurances that the U.S. military would continue to have access now to the airbase here in Bishkek?
Prime Minister Bakiev: During the conversation with Secretary Rumsfeld, we focused on economic relations, political relations, and military relations. On behalf of the Kyrgyz Government and myself, as the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, I assured the Secretary of Defense that the Kyrgyz Republic would comply with all the international agreements we have signed, we have concluded with the United States.
Moderator: A question from Radio Station Azattyk, Radio Liberty.
Q: This is a question for Prime Minister Bakiev. In a way, I will be repeating some of the thoughts of the previous question, but I would nevertheless, like to pose the following question: In light of the political events that occurred on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic recently, is it possible to place the anti-terrorism Coalition Airbase in Kyrgyzstan on permanent status? Also is it possible to have flights here in Kyrgyzstan of AWACS planes?
Prime Minister Bakiev: In the course of our conversation, the Secretary of Defense and I did not discuss the possibility of placing any additional aircraft of the AWACS type in the Kyrgyz Republic. As far as any additional troops, that was also not a subject of discussion. I do not think that there is any need to increase the presence of any more foreign troops in the Kyrgyz Republic. The situation at the present time is fully under control of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, which has no need for additional forces.
Moderator: A question from the representative of The New York Times.
Q: Thank you for your time. As your nation proceeds down this political path, a very exciting force that is still uncertain, I wonder if you were able to give Mr. Rumsfeld, as the first senior American to visit you, assurances that your country, even in this interim period, would be respecting the people’s will and that you are committed to democratic reforms and a free market.
Prime Minister Bakiev: Thank you for the question. During the course of our talks with the Secretary of Defense that question was definitely discussed; that question has great meaning for us and for the citizens of Kyrgyzstan. And I responded that the Kyrgyz Government will do everything necessary so that the presidential elections will be in compliance with the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, with the laws enforced in the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic, and with the standards the OSCE
Moderator: The next question is from the newspaper ResPublica.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, would you agree that with the victory of the people’s revolution in Kyrgyzstan there were certain changes in the strategic balance of power in Central Asia?
Secretary Rumsfeld: No, I do not think I would say that. It seems to me, there is an interest on the part of the people to move towards a democratic system and that is a good thing for the region. Although I do not quite understand the basis for your question, I do think it is important for the people to have the kind of government and the kind of opportunities that they want and to express themselves in free and fair elections.
Moderator: A question from the representative of U.S.A. Toda.y.
Q: Good afternoon, sir. What will be the political impact of the return of Bermet Akaeva and will her return help authorities here locate her husband, whose company sells the fuel the U.S. needs for its aircraft at the airbase here?
Prime Minister Bakiev: As far as I know, although I have not seen her myself, they told me today that Bermet Akaeva is in Bishkek and that she is attending a session of the Parliament. That, in a sense, is the answer to your question. There is no impact. On the part of the Government of Kyrgyzstan there were no obstacles to her return. As for the second part of your question, regarding her husband, I do not see any obstacles whatsoever for him to live here or any restrictions for him to be involved in the business he pursues. I think that questions regarding the privatization and the property of the former president’s family, some of which are controversial, all of them should be investigated according to judicial procedures and only decided in court.
Moderator: Unfortunately, the time for this press conference has ended. On behalf of all of you, let me thank Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the Prime Minister for participating. Thank you.