Akayev: `All of a Sudden I Become President'
FRUNZE, USSR — THE following are excerpts from the first interview by a Western correspondent with Askar Akayev, the newly elected president of the republic of Kirghizia, conducted in his office in Frunze on Dec. 12.
On becoming a politician:
``Never in my life did I think that out of a scientist I would become a politician. I studied in Leningrad and I worked there altogether for 17 years. I believe these were the best years of my life. When I moved with my family to Kirghizia in 1978, I began by organizing a chair in opto-electronics at the Polytechnical Institute in Frunze.
``In 1985, when perestroika began, I was invited to be the head of the department of science and education established in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kirghizia.
``That was an important time - the first years of perestroika. I believe that in those times, most of the Soviet people were in an optimistic mood. It seemed to us that we would make great success soon.... We never realized at that time the range and profoundness of problems which our country had to solve.
``Those years were not a waste of time for me. I gained my initial experience in party and political work. After that, I returned to my alma mater - science - in 1987.... And [this year] all of a sudden I become president.''
On private property:
``Although I am a Communist, my basic attitude toward private property is favorable. I believe that the revolution in the sphere of economics was not made by Karl Marx but by Adam Smith.''
``I believe that cooperation with Southeast Asian and Pacific countries would the most effective at this stage. We need new modern technology, new machinery. We must learn how to make machines and goods which can compete in the international market....
``All that requires tremendous investment. This investment can be made by Japan and South Korea.... Along with developing relations with the West, we should look to the East.''
On the union treaty:
``Our basic attitude toward the draft union treaty is positive. I believe integration is an international tendency. [But] we have lived in a unitary state and today separatism and secessionism in republics, in varying degrees, is a natural freedom.
``Today there are three groups of republics. The first group is for federation, the second for confederation, and the third - the Baltics, Georgia - want to leave the union. So I believe we need a good architect who could build a house of union from federation and confederation bricks.
``I believe the treaty should be divided into two. The first should be an economic union treaty. Through economic union we could arrive at political union.''