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A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864; it achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Current concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of democracy and political freedoms, inter-ethnic relations, and terrorism.
Update No: 263 - (26/11/02)
The president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, is deemed easily the likeliest candidate for the premiership if the republic becomes a parliamentary republic in 2005, moving himself to the next true seat of power. Deputy Prime Minister, Dzhoomart Otorbayev, would then be the likely successor to Akayev as president, although all this is some time away.
The 2002 consultative Group Meeting for the Kyrgyz Republic, comprising a number of Western institutions interested in the country, ended recently in the capital and was deemed highly successful. Some US$700m are likely to be extended over the next three years, half to a poverty-reduction programme.
Nevertheless, it must be remembered that a lot of money is often pledged at donor conferences that never gets disbursed. Fears of corruption and siphoning-off by the local elite abound.
Some of those attending were convinced that the banking system needed revamping before the credit could be expected to reach the small-to-medium-sized business sector, on whose performance poverty reduction depended.
AKF Cooperation Pact
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Kyrgyz Government have signed an agreement on long-term cooperation. "The Aga Khan Foundation is ready to launch a system of micro-loans in South Kyrgyzstan for combating poverty and achieving social stability," Akayev said, adding that the foundation has become a strategic partner of his country.
The agreement stipulates projects in tourism, education, industry and agriculture. Prince Aga Khan, the world Ismaili Moslem leader, has told the press that his foundation is ready to open financial and educational establishments in Kyrgyz districts whose residents encounter pressing social and economic problems.
"The Kyrgyz government creates favourable conditions for the foundation's activities," said Prince Aga Khan, noting that they would like serious foreign investors to come to Kyrgyzstan and invest in tourism, agriculture and education.
Summit highlights special problems of mountainous areas
The first Global Mountain Summit has ended in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Observers and participants hailed it as a success for drawing attention to the special problems facing the world's mountainous regions, which cover around a quarter of the planet's surface, RFE/RL has reported.
Abdulla Sobirov, a Kyrgyz journalist who covered the Bishkek summit, assessed the significance of the event: "I think the importance of this summit is that it drew international attention to the problems of people living in mountains, issues such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of transport and communication. The summit made it clear that these problems are not unique only to Kyrgyzstan, but are characteristic of most mountainous nations, and it's time for united efforts to tackle these problems."
Participants discussed a wide range of issues, including threats to drinking water, wildlife, and insensitive economic development. The UN says mountainous areas are especially important sources of water.
The United Nations Environment Program, on the eve of the summit, issued a new report called "Mountain Watch." The report says that the world's mountainous regions, considered indomitable and unchanging, were gradually being altered as more and more land is converted to farming and grazing.
Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aytmatov, in his speech to the summit, drew attention to what he called "modern attitudes," including careless exploitation of resources, ruinous agricultural reserves, and wars: "The absence of connections in the system of nations, in the system of nature and human beings, is a result of a technical, heartless approach to the environment. In this regard, a great role in crisis prevention belongs to science, religion, art, and other factors which compose the spirituality of nations."
Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, in his address to the group, echoed Aytmatov's words: "Let the Bishkek summit sow seeds, as a sower whose invocations were just delivered by our well-known writer, humanist Chingiz Aytmatov, seeds of harmonious, economic, and cultural development of people of mountains in the new 21st century."
A final document from the summit will be presented to the UN General Assembly for approval.
EBRD publishes new strategy for Kyrgyz Republic
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will continue to help the Kyrgyz Republic build on its clear improvements in macro-economic performance and its progress towards implementation of the principles of multi-party democracy, pluralism and market economy. The Bank's new strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic - published on the Bank's website, www.ebrd.com - cautions, however, that further improvements to the investment environment are essential.
The Kyrgyz Republic must pay particular attention to privatisation of the remaining state shareholdings, corporate governance and strengthening of the financial sector. Enhanced cooperation with neighbouring countries and reduced regional trade restrictions are vital for the Kyrgyz Republic to attract investment and further advance its economic performance.
The EBRD strategy for the next two years is to concentrate its efforts on support for small and medium-sized enterprises, the development of the financial sector, and attracting investment to key natural resources projects. Through policy dialogue with the government, the EBRD will help develop and improve transparency, governance and the investment climate.
Adding to the private-sector projects that the EBRD has co-financed - Kumtor gold mine, Hyatt-Regency Hotel, Demir Kyrgyz International Bank, and the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank (KICB) - the Bank recently launched the Micro and Small Enterprise Finance Facility and the Trade Facilitation Programme, for Kyrgyz commercial banks, as well as five investments in local SMEs via its Direct Equity Fund (DIF) programme.
For further information contact: Julia Zilberman, Tel: +44 20 7338 6640; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Japan gears up to invest US$750m in 6 projects
Japan has injected US$1,600m into the Uzbek economy since the early 1990s, according to ITAR-TASS News Agency. Now the Japanese government plans to release another US$750m for six Uzbek projects, a source at the Uzbek Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations was quoted as saying.
The Uzbek government has issued a special resolution regarding a list of projects that are related to the processing and transportation of hydrocarbons, restructuring of irrigation systems and public utilities, and the development of the transport infrastructure. Fox example, the Japanese industrial company, Mitsubishi Co., says it will take part in a project to use torch gases at the Kokdumalak gas field in the Kashka-Darya region. Expected funds will reach US$60m.
MINERALS & METALS
Uzbekistan to collect EBRD loan for gold project
Uzbekistan will receive a US$35m credit from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the development of the Zamirton deposit of gold in the Samarkand region, ITAR-TASS News Agency quoted a source at the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations as saying.
The Uzbek government has also granted a developer licence for the deposit to the Austria-based group, Multiplex Mining Co., which has also taken on the task of developing another major gold deposit in Gujumsai, located in the Samarkand region, according to ITAR-TASS. "Combined reserves of the deposits total 20 million tonnes of ore and the average content of gold there is 10 grams per tonne," sources at the State Committee for Geology were quoted as saying.
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