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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement of President Barroso following his meeting with the President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva

Joint press point

Brussels, 1 March 2011

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was indeed a pleasure to receive President Otunbaeva today in Brussels. I thank President Otunbaeva for coming here and for having this opportunity to discuss very important issues for her country and also for the relations between Kyrgyzstan and the European Union.

The European Union highly values the President's leadership in advancing an ambitious reform agenda for the stabilization and democratization of Kyrgyzstan – in a certainly very challenging context. I praised President Otunbaeva's courage and commitment during our meeting.

I congratulated Kyrgyzstan on the democratization process which started last year: The constitutional referendum held in June, the competitive parliamentary elections held in October and the establishment of a new coalition government. The EU looks forward to the next stage of the process - the Presidential elections scheduled for the end of this.

This democratization process is very important for Kyrgyzstan's stability and prosperity, and for the region as a whole. The EU continues to follow events closely, and we remain entirely committed to helping Kyrgyzstan move forward.

We have adapted our assistance following the crisis last April and are already working on a number of projects in the areas of improving the rule of law, respect for human rights and socio-economic development, and we will continue this assistance, including through significant funding. The EU is the second-largest donor, with an overall pledge of € 118 million in aid for the next years.

Moreover, I encouraged President Otunbaeva to stand firm on the important economic reforms that are underway in Kyrgyzstan's transition to a real market economy.

I applauded Kyrgyzstan's accession to the WTO – it is the only state in the region to have achieved this.

The EU itself offers generous trade preferences to Kyrgyzstan, and I hope these opportunities will be even better exploited in the years to come.

I also stressed the importance of interethnic reconciliation and integration for Kyrgyzstan's stability and development.

In particular, we believe that establishing the facts behind the violent events in Southern Kyrgyzstan last June is a prerequisite for that. The independent inquiry commission – which the Commission co-funded and supported– is expected to make important recommendations, and I believe these recommendations should be followed up.

Let me generally say that the efforts of state-building in Kyrgyzstan and of bolstering its democracy and economy should draw on the citizenship of its people – and not simply their ethnicity.

We had a very good and deep discussion about this with President Otunbaeva and I want to thank her for the frankness and openness for addressing a topic that I know is extremely sensitive, but very important, for the future of her country.

Madam President, thank you again for coming to Brussels. I look forward to continuing our cooperation with you. After this discussion of today, I am sure that the EU and its Member States will even be more attentive and supportive of your efforts regarding the future of democracy and stability in your country.

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