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Erdogan Calls For Stronger Turkish-Kyrgyz Ties


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. September 1, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for closer ties with Kyrgyzstan during a two-day official visit to the Central Asian nation.

Speaking after talks with Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov in Bishkek on September 1, Erdogan called for more commercial air travel between the two countries and a Turkish role in reconstruction work at airports in Kyrgyzstan.

Erdogan said he didn’t want a return to the poor bilateral ties after the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that Ankara blamed on the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denied any involvement in the plot.

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev criticized Turkish actions after the failed coup, which included the detention of tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, journalists, and teachers in a crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters.

Erdogan urged Kyrgyzstan to crack down on groups linked to Gulen, saying they posed a security threat.

"We don't want our brotherly people to encounter such problems," Erdogan said at a joint briefing with Jeenbekov.

"They [Gulen supporters] may infiltrate the Interior Ministry, military structures, such a coup may happen in Kyrgyzstan as well."

Jeenbekov, who came to power last year, stopped short of promising to comply, saying the school network associated with Gulen was now under the government's control.

Jeenbekov also said Bishkek is ready to upgrade relations with Ankara to a new, higher level.

During his two-day visit to Bishkek, Erdogan is scheduled to attend a Kyrgyz-Turkish business forum, open a new mosque, and ceremonially launch the start of construction of a new medical department at the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University.

Erdogan is also expected to announce that the fourth World Nomad Games will be held in Turkey.

Kyrgyzstan launched the games and is hosting the third edition between September 2 and September 8 in the northern Issyk-Kul region.

Erdogan is expected to be on hand for the opening ceremony of the games on September 2.

With reporting by Reuters
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