BISHKEK. Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, paid a one-day visit to Kyrgyzstan today. He met with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akayev, to discuss problems of bilateral economic relations between Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and common CIS problems, including regional security issues. During a joint conference, held after the meeting, president Akayev told journalists that the issue of the establishment of a free trade zone for the CIS member-countries will be discussed at the forthcoming Yalta summit in September, this year. "Only a shortage of political will of the CIS leaders is delaying the issue", Akayev said. President Kuchma praised his Kyrgyz counterpart for supporting the idea of a free trade zone.
Regarding the so-called Ukrainian debt to Kyrgyzstan from 1991-1992, Kuchma emphasized that the debt was not the Ukrainian state's debt to the Kyrgyz state. "If the government will raise the issue in front of Ukrainian parliament, the lawmakers would ask: "Why should the Prime Minister sign such a debt of industrial enterprises?" However, the government in Kyiv agreed to settle the matter. We will find ways to pay it in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement on it", Kuchma said.
Ukraine has a debt of $28,000,000. It is huge money for Kyrgyzstan. The annual trade level between the two post-Soviet countries is about $12,000,000. Kyrgyzstan exports to Ukraine electric bulbs, cotton, and other industrial and agricultural goods. Ukraine is selling to Kyrgyzstan tractors, tires, confectionery, etc.
Compiled by Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev and edited by Charles Carlson in Prague