Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

11 June 2017

Secretary-General’s press conference with Almazbek Atambaev, President of Kyrgyzstan [including Q&A]

I want to express first of all my deep gratitude to President Atambaev for his gentle invitation. It is for me an enormous pleasure and an enormous honour to be back in Kyrgyzstan.
With Kyrgyzstan, I developed as High Commissioner for Refugees an exemplary cooperation during more than ten years.
In that long period of cooperation, sometimes with very difficult moments, I have witnessed the determination of the people of Kyrgyzstan for a choice: a choice for democracy in Kyrgyzstan, a choice for a regime with the the rule of law, the protection of human rights, and the choice for a vibrant civil society active in Kyrgyzstan.
That made Kyrgyzstan the pioneer of democracy in Central Asia and I want to express my best wishes in relation to the future developments of the country: you have new elections soon and I am absolutely sure that Kyrgyzstan will remain a very important symbol of democracy and protection of human rights in the region and around the world.
I am also sure that Kyrgyzstan will play a very important role in what I hope will be future developments in Central Asia for better cooperation, better integration among the different countries and peoples of Central Asia to guarantee its prosperity and its development.
The UN will be fully supporting the Government of Kyrgyzstan in the implementation of Taza Koom, the Sustainable Development Goals and also working together with Kyrgyzstan to make sure that we are able to face climate change, that we are able to mobilize the whole international community for climate change to be tamed and for the wonderful glaciers of Kyrgyzstan to be preserved.
Question on expectations for the Taza Koom forum
Secretary-General: Without digital transformation, no country will be available today to face the challenges of development. This decision by the Government of Kyrgyzstan is absolutely essential for the country to be able to compete internationally and to be able to ensure a high level of development and prosperity for its people.
But there is a specific characteristic of Taza Koom that I would like to highlight. Many countries look at digitalization as a technocratic issue, specially oriented to improve the business environment and to create better conditions for economic development. And that is obviously necessary.
But Taza Koom goes beyond: it looks into the central question of improving governance and empowering people, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.
So it is not only about digital economy, it is about digital democracy. And that represents a very clear choice, a fundamental choice of society that once again, makes Kyrgyzstan a pioneer of democracy in Central Asia.
Obviously, we will do everything possible to support, and the UN Development Programme will have Taza Koom as the priority of its actions in support of the Government of Kyrgyzstan.
Question on the nature of UN support to Taza Koom and the upcoming elections in Kyrgyzstan
Secretary-General: It is obvious from the financial point of view that an important contribution will be the contributions of financial institutions.
We have today the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The role of the United Nations is much more linked to technical cooperation and support to development, to training people and to actions that enhance the capacity of the Government to be an effective implementer of the Taza Koom project.
Now in relation to the elections, Kyrgyzstan is a sovereign country, it is obviously Kyrgyzstan that will organize its own elections. Of course, the United Nations will be at the disposal of the Government of Kyrgyzstan for whatever purpose that might be necessary.
And there is one characteristic that I would like to underline here. When I visit many countries in the world that will have elections, everybody tells me what the result of the elections will be. I come to Kyrgyzstan, and nobody is able to tell me what the result of the elections will be: that is a central characteristic of a true democracy.