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Turkey Eases Visa Regime For Kyrgyz, To Step Up Investment

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev (right) and his visiting Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev (right) and his visiting Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan and Turkey are planning to establish a no-visa regime for the two countries' citizens by the end of the year, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

On February 2, visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Almazbek Atambaev, signed several agreements on widening economic, political, and cultural ties between Bishkek and Ankara, including the document loosening visa requirements.

Currently Kyrgyz citizens are currently allowed to stay in Turkey for up to 30 days without a visa.

The agreement signed on February 2 prolongs the no-visa stay for Kyrgyz citizens in Turkey and Turkish citizens in Kyrgyzstan to 90 days. The agreement also states "the two countries will switch to a fully no-visa regime by the end of this year."

No further details were available.

Officials from the two sides also agreed to establish a Kyrgyz-Turkish intergovernmental council. The new council's first session is scheduled to be held in March in Turkey.

Erdogan told journalists in Bishkek that Turkey is ready to invest up to $450 million into the Kyrgyz economy. Atambaev stated that the first $10 million in investment has been granted by Ankara.

Erdogan arrived in Kyrgyzstan on February 1 and left Kyrgyzstan late the next day. He held meetings with President Roza Otunbaeva and other Kyrgyz officials and gave a speech in the Kyrgyz parliament.

Erdogan did not visit any other Central Asian countries on his trip.

Atambaev used to live in Turkey as a political refugee when Askar Akaev was Kyrgyz president.

Turkey, which shares linguistic similarities with the Turkic-speaking countries of Central Asia, was the first country to recognize the independence of Kyrgyzstan and the four other Central Asian countries in December 1991.

Read more in Kyrgyz