Kyrgyzstan is committed to joining the Customs Union and hopes to receive preferable treatment from Moscow as it drives its bid to join the three-country bloc this year, President Almazbek Atambaev said on April 12.
In an interview with Itar-Tass, Atambaev said that accession to the Customs Union founded by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, was "the reality and even the necessity". The president added that he hopes the working group set up to handle Kyrgyzstan's accession would prepare a roadmap for the country's entry to the union by autumn 2013, paving the way for accession by the end of the year.
Atambaev was speaking after an official visit to Astana, where he met with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev and other officials. "Kyrgyzstan is committed to joining the Customs Union. But this depends on the Customs Union members: three states should take a decision," Atambaev said.
"I won't hide that we'd like to hope for the attitude that the three countries show to each other while creating the Customs Union ... certain preferences have been made to Belarus and Kazakhstan, and we hope for the same attitude to make our accession beneficial," he added. Atambav also insisted that despite concerns from some that the Custom Union represents a backwards move towards a situation reminiscent of Soviet times, most of Kyrgyzstan's population were in favour of entry.
Bishkek has been working towards Customs Union membership since late 2011. Russia and Kazakhstan are among the country's main trading partners, meaning that accession is expected to be a boost for the Kyrgyz economy. Russia's Minister for Integration with the Eurasian Economic Commission and Macroeconomics, Tatyana Valovaya, said on March 28 that accession was also expected to be favourable for the three existing members as it "will expand the market for foreign direct investment and will promote trade growth".
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