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Cable sobre un desayuno con el Príncipe Andrés en Kirguizistán

En 2008, la embajada informa de un desayuno con el príncipe Andrés organizado por la representación británica en un hotel de Bishkek, la capital de esa ex república soviética de Asia Central

ID: 175722
Date: 2008-10-29 12:07:00
Origin: 08BISHKEK1095
Source: Embassy Bishkek
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 08BISHKEK1059
Destination: VZCZCXRO8787
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INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2724
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0265
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1087
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 3111
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2497
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 165

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BISHKEK 001095

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDRESSEE)

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (GORKOWSKI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2018
TAGS: PREL, ECON, KG
SUBJECT: CANDID DISCUSSION WITH PRINCE ANDREW ON THE KYRGYZ
ECONOMY AND THE "GREAT GAME"

REF: BISHKEK 1059

BISHKEK 00001095 001.4 OF 004


Classified By: Amb. Tatiana Gfoeller, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On October 28, the Ambassador participated
in a two-hour brunch to brief HRH the Duke of York ahead of
his meetings with the Kyrgyz Prime Minister and other
high-level officials. She was the only non-subject of the
United Kingdom or the Commonwealth invited to participate by
the British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic. Other
participants included major British investors in Kyrgyzstan
and the Canadian operator of the Kumtor mine. The discussion
covered the investment climate for Western firms in the
Kyrgyz Republic, the problem of corruption, the revival of
the "Great Game," Russian and Chinese influence in the
country, and the Prince's personal views on promoting British
economic interests. Astonishingly candid, the discussion at
times verged on the rude (from the British side). END
SUMMARY.

2. (C) British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Paul
Brummell invited the Ambassador to participate in briefing
His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, ahead of
his October 28 meetings with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor
Chudinov and other high-level officials. The Prince was in
Kyrgyzstan to promote British economic interests. Originally
scheduled to last an hour over brunch, the briefing ended up
lasting two hours, thanks to the super-engaged Prince's
pointed questions. The Ambassador was the only participant
who was not a British subject or linked to the Commonwealth.
The absence of her French and German colleagues was notable;
they were apparently not invited despite being fellow members
of the European Union. Others included major British
investors in Kyrgyzstan and the Canadian operator of the
Kumtor mine.

"YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE ROUGH WITH THE SMOOTH"
--------------------------------------------

3. (C) The discussion was kicked off by the president of the
Canadian-run Kumtor mine, who described at length his
company's travails of trying to negotiate a revised mining
concession that provides a greater stake in Kumtor's parent
company to the Kyrgyz government in exchange for a simplified
tax regime and an expanded concession. He was followed by
the representative of the British owner of Kyrgyzneftigas,
who explained his company's role in Kyrgyz oil exploration
and production, as well as doing his share of complaining of
being harassed and hounded by Kyrgyz tax authorities. One
example he gave was that a Kyrgyz shareholder was now suing
the company, saying that his "human rights" were being
violated by the terms of his shareholders' agreement.

4. (C) The Prince reacted with unmitigated patriotic fervor.
To his credit, he diligently tried to understand the Kyrgyz
point view. However, when participants explained that some
Kyrgyz feel that they were "unfairly" led in the 1990s to
sign unfavorable contracts with Westerners, he evinced no
sympathy. "A contract is a contract," he insisted. "You
have to take the rough with the smooth."

"ALL OF THIS SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE FRANCE"
----------------------------------------

5. (C) After having half-heartedly danced around the topic
for a bit, only mentioning "personal interests" in pointed
fashion, the business representatives then plunged into
describing what they see as the appallingly high state of
corruption in the Kyrgyz economy. While claiming that all of
them never participated in it and never gave out bribes, one
representative of a middle-sized company stated that "It is
sometimes an awful temptation." In an astonishing display of

BISHKEK 00001095 002.4 OF 004


candor in a public hotel where the brunch was taking place,
all of the businessmen then chorused that nothing gets done
in Kyrgyzstan if President Bakiyev's son Maxim does not get
"his cut." Prince Andrew took up the topic with gusto,
saying that he keeps hearing Maxim's name "over and over
again" whenever he discusses doing business in this country.
Emboldened, one businessman said that doing business here is
"like doing business in the Yukon" in the nineteenth century,
i.e. only those willing to participate in local corrupt
practices are able to make any money. His colleagues all
heartily agreed, with one pointing out that "nothing ever
changes here. Before all you heard was Akayev's son's name.
Now it's Bakiyev's son's name." At this point the Duke of
York laughed uproariously, saying that: "All of this sounds
exactly like France."

6. (C) The Prince then turned to the Ambassador for an
American take on the situation. The Ambassador described
American business interests in the country, which range from
large investments such as the Hyatt hotel and the Katel
telecommunications company to smaller investments in a range
of sectors. She stated that part of the problem with
business conditions in Kyrgyzstan was the rapid turnover in
government positions. Some reacted to their short tenures in
a corrupt manner, wanting to "steal while they can" until
they were turned out of office. While noting the need for
greater transparency in doing business, she recounted that
she had hosted the American Chamber of Commerce's Members Day
last week (attended by the Foreign Minister and the Deputy
Minister of Trade and Commerce) which had been widely
attended and a resounding success (see reftel). She then
described the beneficial impact on the Kyrgyz economy of the
Coalition Air Base at Manas Airport.

"YOU HAVE TO CURE YOURSELF OF ANOREXIA"
---------------------------------------

7. (C) With a mock groan, the Duke of York then exclaimed:
"My God, what am I supposed to tell these people?!" More
seriously, he invited his guests to suggest ways Kyrgyzstan's
economic prospects and attractiveness could be improved.
Everyone agreed that in his talks with the Prime Minister and
others, he should emphasize the rule of law, and long-term
stability.

8. (C) Agreeing with the Ambassador's point about rapid
government turnover, they urged him to impress upon his hosts
the importance of predictability and the sanctity of
contracts in order to attract more Western investment. At
the same time, they pointed out that none of this was
necessary to attract Russian, Kazakh, or Chinese investments.
It appeared to them that the Kyrgyz were satisfied with
their level and on the verge of "not bothering" with making
the necessary improvements to attract Western investments.
Returning to what is obviously a favorite theme, Prince
Andrew cracked: "They won't need to make any changes to
attract the French either!" Again turning thoughtful, the
Prince mused that outsiders could do little to change the
culture of corruption here. "They themselves have to have a
change of heart. Just like you have to cure yourself of
anorexia. No one else can do it for you."

PLAYING THE GREAT GAME (BY EXTENSION THE AMERICANS TOO)
--------------------------------------------- ----------

9. (C) Addressing the Ambassador directly, Prince Andrew
then turned to regional politics. He stated baldly that "the
United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you
Americans too") were now back in the thick of playing the
Great Game. More animated than ever, he stated cockily: "And
this time we aim to win!" Without contradicting him, the
Ambassador gently reminded him that the United States does

BISHKEK 00001095 003.4 OF 004


not see its presence in the region as a continuation of the
Great Game. We support Kyrgyzstan's independence and
sovereignty but also welcome good relations between it and
all of its neighbors, including Russia.

10. (C) The Prince pounced at the sound of that name. He
told the Ambassador that he was a frequent visitor to Central
Asia and the Caucasus and had noticed a marked increase in
Russian pressure and concomitant anxiety among the locals
post-August events in Georgia. He stated the following story
related to him recently by Azerbaijan's President Aliyev.
Aliyev had received a letter from President Medvedev telling
him that if Azerbaijan supported the designation of the
Bolshevik artificial famine in Ukraine as "genocide" at the
United Nations, "then you can forget about seeing
Nagorno-Karabakh ever again." Prince Andrew added that every
single other regional President had told him of receiving
similar "directive" letters from Medvedev except for Bakiyev.
He asked the Ambassador if Bakiyev had received something
similar as well. The Ambassador answered that she was not
aware of any such letter.

11. (C) The Duke then stated that he was very worried about
Russia's resurgence in the region. As an example, he cited
the recent Central Asian energy and water-sharing deal
(septel), which he claimed to know had been "engineered by
Russia, who finally pounded her fist on the table and
everyone fell into line." (NOTE: Interestingly, the Turkish
Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic recently described her
analysis of the deal to the Ambassador in strikingly similar
language. END NOTE.)

12. (C) Showing that he is an equal-opportunity Great Game
player, HRH then turned to the topic of China. He recounted
that when he had recently asked the President of Tajikistan
what he thought of growing Chinese influence in Central Asia,
the President had responded "with language I won't use in
front of ladies." His interlocutors told the Prince that
while Russians are generally viewed sympathetically
throughout the region, the Chinese are not. He nodded,
terming Chinese economic and possibly other expansion in the
region "probably inevitable, but a menace."

RUDE LANGUAGE A LA BRITISH
--------------------------

13. (C) The brunch had already lasted almost twice its
allotted time, but the Prince looked like he was just getting
started. Having exhausted the topic of Kyrgyzstan, he turned
to the general issue of promoting British economic interests
abroad. He railed at British anti-corruption investigators,
who had had the "idiocy" of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama
deal with Saudi Arabia. (NOTE: The Duke was referencing an
investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a
senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the
multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide
equipment and training to Saudi security forces. END NOTE.)
His mother's subjects seated around the table roared their
approval. He then went on to "these (expletive) journalists,
especially from the National Guardian, who poke their noses
everywhere" and (presumably) make it harder for British
businessmen to do business. The crowd practically clapped.
He then capped this off with a zinger: castigating "our
stupid (sic) British and American governments which plan at
best for ten years whereas people in this part of the world
plan for centuries." There were calls of "hear, hear" in the
private brunch hall. Unfortunately for the assembled British
subjects, their cherished Prince was now late to the Prime
Minister's. He regretfully tore himself away from them and
they from him. On the way out, one of them confided to the
Ambassador: "What a wonderful representative for the British
people! We could not be prouder of our royal family!"

BISHKEK 00001095 004.4 OF 004



COMMENT
-------

14. (C) COMMENT: Prince Andrew reached out to the
Ambassador with cordiality and respect, evidently valuing her
insights. However, he reacted with almost neuralgic
patriotism whenever any comparison between the United States
and United Kingdom came up. For example, one British
businessman noted that despite the "overwhelming might of the
American economy compared to ours" the amount of American and
British investment in Kyrgyzstan was similar. Snapped the
Duke: "No surprise there. The Americans don't understand
geography. Never have. In the U.K., we have the best
geography teachers in the world!" END COMMENT.
GFOELLER