Eurasia Regional Section of the World organization "United Cities and Local Governments"

Interview with Aziz Surakmatov, Mayor of Bishkek

─ Bishkek has become an absolute leader of the Ranking of Municipalities’ International Activity. In your opinion, what strengths of the city have allowed Bishkek to rank first?

First of all, I would like to thank the Eurasia Regional Section of the United Cities and Local Governments World Organization for such a high assessment. This is a good incentive for us to develop our capital city.

In my opinion, one of the advantages of Bishkek is an open and transparent policy. We have established twin-city and partner relations with about twenty foreign cities in the field of economy, culture, ecology, etc.

We are currently collaborating with the Government of Moscow in the sphere of information technology that is applied in education, public transport, implementation of projects on digital technologies introduction in advertising and parking.

─ What Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN are priorities for Bishkek?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are universal and applicable to all countries.

As far as Bishkek is concerned, establishing strong economy and attracting investments, improving the quality of education, environmental protection, gender equality, health, reforming the public transport system are priority areas for us.

─ This year the Kyrgyz Republic will present the Voluntary National Review of the SDGs achievement. Has the city of Bishkek taken part in the preparation of this project? Will projects initiated by Bishkek be presented in the review?

The Sustainable Development Goals are included into the National Development Strategy for 2018-2040, in which objectives of Bishkek are identified.

With regard to the Voluntary National Review project, we are working jointly with the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic; working groups have been established; we have taken active part in the development of the review, and for the time being the draft regulation on the adoption of the report is under consideration in the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

─ To date, there is growing interest in subnational reviews of the SDGs. Such cities as New York, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Bristol, and Buenos Aires have already prepared their reviews of the implementation of the goals. Is Bishkek planning to prepare its own review and tell at the annual UN High-Level Forum in New York how Bishkek is working towards the sustainable development?

Yes, we have already received from the Government of New York a proposal to join the voluntary local review, and we are currently considering the opportunity to join this initiative.

I believe that the experience of such a serious World Organization as United Cities and Local Governments will be very useful for us.

─ Taking into account the relevance of the topic, we would like to learn what measures to prevent the coronavirus are being taken by the Bishkek municipality?

With the first messages of WHO in winter, the municipality has started preventive works to avoid the importation of the virus to Bishkek, and later has been placed on high alert.

A city headquarters, and four district headquarters have been established; an operational plan of activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection has been developed.

To minimise negative consequences of external factors we have created the economic stability headquarters.

To date, the situation in the capital is stable; 16 round-the-clock health and quarantine checkpoints have been arranged at the entrance to the city.

Doctors and epidemiologists are provided with personal protective equipment and medicine. 20 mobile brigades are on duty in the city. Specialists of call-centers and helplines are always available for citizens.

16 observation points with infected people have been organized; additionally two thousand-bed wards have been arranged. Over 3 000 medical staff work there.

Now we are closely monitoring the health state of citizens, as well as identify contact persons.

Besides, in these challenging times, we do not forget about those who suffer most from the quarantine. The metropolitan municipality with the support of the government of the country, entrepreneurs, charity organizations and merely indifferent citizens support families in need. Today, about 100 000 families have been supported.

All safety measures being taken today are first of all aimed at protecting citizens’ health. I suppose that our citizens treat the introduced rules with understanding and responsibility.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

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