Olivier Bangerter: It is a relief to be reunited with my family in safe Bishkek

Olivier Bangerter is the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Kyrgyz Republic. He arrived in Bishkek in August 2021 — just in time for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of independence.

The Ambassador told in an interview with 24.kg news agency that he intends to strengthen bilateral relations between Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan. Prior to this position, Olivier Bangerter was heading the Swiss representation in Afghanistan.

It is a relief to be reunited with my family again in safe and beautiful Bishkek.

Olivier Bangerter

— What surprises you in Bishkek/ Kyrgyzstan?

— It may not be a surprise, but I like the way people seem much more relaxed than in other cities I have lived in. Bishkek has a very unique feel for me — I have lived for some months in Russia and here I recognize the Soviet heritage in many buildings.

But at the same time, I have lived in Afghanistan for several years and here I recognize many Central Asia characteristics, notably the hospitality of the people.

— What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?

— I was born in Lausanne, in Switzerland, which is a city that is built on the sides of a hill, so it is not flat as here. It is also a city on a lake, which I miss here in Bishkek.

But the parks and the view on gorgeous mountains are common points between two cities.

Olivier Bangerter

— What do you miss in Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan?

— Swiss cheese in all of its variety, from the round «monk’s head» to the Emmental with many holes; from to the hard and salty Gruyères and to the soft «tomme». If you let me start of this topic, there are so many things I could say.

— What is your favorite place in Bishkek?

— Ala-Too Square and the statue of Kurmanjan Datka just next to it. It was incredible to be on the square for New Year and enjoy the concerts and the fireworks.

— What national dishes do you like?

— The question is rather what I do not like... I love arriving to a new place and being served warm boorsok with cream, honey or jam. I love chuchuk, mai tokoch and kattama.

The main courses I prefer are besh barmak, gulchatai, kuurdak, manty and samsi (the big ones in Osh have a special place in my heart) and ashlamfu from Karakol. As a guest, I am not hard to satisfy — I enjoy discovering food with local people.

I am one of these foreign guests who like kymyz, but my favorite drink is clearly chalap.

Olivier Bangerter

— What are you afraid even to taste?

— Sheep’s eyes, but I have never been offered any.

— What has fascinated you in close acquaintance with the local population?

— How nice people are, how I was received everywhere with open arms and heart.

— What disappointed you?

— That my progress in Kyrgyz language is way too slow. I would like to interact with people so much better than I can.

Source: 24.kg News Agency