Kyrgyzstan has to inform US on airbase closure in advance - MP
Under the Bishkek-Washington intergovernmental agreement the Kyrgyz government is obliged to inform the US that it closes the Manas coalition airbase six months in advance, Kyrgyz Communist Party leader Iskhak Masaliyev told journalists on Wednesday.
He also noted that the government has to submit the issue on the air base's withdrawal to the parliament's consideration, reported Itar-Tass.
Masaliyev believes that the statement on the Manas airbase's closure made by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Moscow proves "Kyrgyzstan's strategic choice in favour of Russia."
"For our country this is the moment of truth," he said.
The Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan was opened in 2001. It operates under the UN mandate in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Initially, personnel and hardware not only of the US, but also of France, Spain, the Netherlands, South Korea and some other countries were deployed there. However, over the past years the military group included mainly servicemen of the US. Around 1,000 servicemen ensure maintenance of several cargo planes and refuelling tankers.
Bakiyev explained his decision by the inconsiderable compensation Kyrgyzstan gets from the US for the use of the airbase as well as by "a negative reaction" to the base in the Kyrgyz society.
Over the eight years of the base's operation US servicemen became involved in different scandals. Even violating the Kyrgyz laws they enjoyed the diplomatic immunity to escape responsibility. This happened in 2006 when a US officer short dead at the airfield Kyrgyz citizen Alexander Ivanov. The suspect was taken back to the US and Kyrgyz law enforcers suspended the investigation.