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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: 261 - (26/09/02)
The Kyrgyz are in a turbulent state. The republic's regime was always not quite so dictatorial as neighbouring regimes. The US has been offered a large military base since 9:11 at Manas, 150km from the Chinese border, as relevant a fact as its proximity to the Afghan border.
Letting the Americans in is a hazardous thing to do. They tend to change every country they take under their wing. The US and democracy are inseparable ideas. From its secession from colonial rule onwards it forged a lively democratic debate on its democracy and constitution among the 13 rebel states, conducted in the Federal Papers, as well as Congress.
Nothing like this is likely to happen of course in remote Kyrgyzstan with its Islamic tradition and nomadic life-style. But the regime has been paying lip-service to democracy for a decade and the president, Askar Akayev, is certainly the most civilised and best-educated of Central Asian leaders, a trained physicist.
Turmoil for months
This explains why his reaction to recent turmoil has not been the immediate repression which would have been meted out everywhere else in Central Asia.
Trouble has been brewing for months. The country is terribly poor, the poorest in the region, possibly excepting Tajikistan. Massive involvements by the international community brought in a huge amount of money in the 1990s, which has been used on projects whose wisdom can be doubted. They have raised expectations without satisfying them. And then the Americans came to town, Manas being just outside the capital Bishkek.
The people have been protesting against Akayev's rule for half a year now. The post-9:11 mood led him to tighten control further and alienate an already discontented population. The protesters have been demanding Akayev's resignation, with street pickets and marches becoming, if not a daily, then on a frequent basis.
In May Akayev changed his premier and government, but with no abatement of calls for his resignation.
Akayev has responded by offering a rapprochement with the opposition parties. He has invited them to take part in a constitutional council to discuss reforms, including the transfer of some of the powers of the presidency to parliament.
He intends to chair the council and regain some of the initiative. It would discuss amendments to strengthen the powers of the premiership, government and local authorities.
This is a dangerous thing to do, which shows that Nayazov for all his dictatorial ways of late directed at individual oppositionists and organs of expression, has not totally lost his original democratic instincts.
He is due to go to Washington soon to receive the thanks of Bush for Kyrgyzstan's unflinching support in the campaign against terrorism. If the council already exists by then, he would need to postpone any meetings until his return. Otherwise, he might find he is no longer its chairman or president of the country.
Kyrgyz leader presents national poverty reduction strategy
The poverty rate in Kyrgyzstan is expected to drop by 5 per cent by 2005, President Askar Akayev said on 6th September, Interfax News Agency has reported. The president was speaking at a session which discussed the final version of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
"This document was drawn up based on a social consensus taking into account the country's actual needs," he said.
The National Poverty Reduction Strategy is a programme intended for 2003-2005, which sets out the projections for Kyrgyzstan's socio-economic development. The programme was developed by the Finance Ministry together with experts from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The programme's main objective is to achieve a 5 per cent reduction in the poverty rate and raise the living standards. In 2001, the poverty rate stood at 47.6 per cent against 52 per cent in 2000.
"The poverty reduction programme is the first step in implementing the comprehensive development programme throughout 2010. The National Poverty Reduction Strategy integrates all the experience of a transition period, as well as outlines guidelines for implementing market and social reforms," Akayev said.
Finance Ministry experts have estimated the programme's cost at US$2bn. Budget funds will account for US$500m, including funds provided under a direct investment programme and loans under the government's guarantees. Another US$1.5bn will be received in direct foreign investments and grants.
The programme contains projects which will later be submitted to donor-countries and international financial institutions. The programme's final version will be unveiled at a donors' consultative session scheduled for October on Lake
FOREIGN ECONOMICAL RELATIONS
Sino-Kyrgyz ties keep unfolding
Kyrgyzstan is well on track with China in terms of trade relations. Indeed last year's turnover between China and Kyrgyzstan reached US$170m whilst in the last seven months of the current year the same rate increased by more than 50% compared with the similar period of last year, reports New Europe.
This affirmed by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Chinese People's Republic, Chan Tjiang, during talks on trade and economic bilateral relations with Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Nikolay Tanaev, during the former's visit to the republic.
The delegates visited the country on the occasion of the official opening of the Kyrgyz-Chinese paper-mill, which was recently held in Tokmok town.
The Kyrgyz-Chinese paper-mill is a joint enterprise and the largest investment project in this sector of the industry. The equipment of known firms established at the factory, will allow for considerable improvement in the quality of finished production, and reduce costs.
In the course of the meeting prospects of new cooperation agreements in all sectors were discussed. The Kyrgyz premier urged China to speed up its decision over technical problems on energy transportation to the Hinjiang-Uigur Autonomous region of Chinese Republic within the framework of the bilateral agreement between the countries.
Tanaev also advised that his country was having a problem with the realisation of tobacco products grown in the country. It is known that the area has huge potential for cigarette production, up to 15bn items annually and the country consumes only 3.5bn of them. Therefore, the Kyrgyz government called on China to help since, as Tanaev noted: "The volume of Kyrgyz tobacco exports to China is not big." For his part, Tjiang said that China consumes its own tobacco products made by traditional technology of China, whereas Kyrgyzstan produces cigarettes with European and US technology. Nevertheless, he expressed readiness to help in the export of the products to the Chinese market.
The meeting was sealed with the signing of an economic cooperation agreement, under which China is to grant 15m Yuan to Kyrgyzstan. The means will be allocated to finish the work on preparation on details of the technical and economics of construction of railway from
US EximBank examines potential in Kyrgyzstan
US EximBank would like to invest in the economy of Kyrgyzstan, New Europe reported recently. One condition is that the enterprises and firms from the US should participate in the projects offered by the Kyrgyz side, it was stated during the recent meeting between Prime Minister, Nikolay Tanaev, with Director of the EximBank Department for the CIS countries and Baltic, Paul Tumminia.
The prime minister informed that projects were being developed in the spheres of power, communication, and construction that require foreign investments. US Plenipotentiary Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan, John O'Keefe, noted that investment-attractive projects were in the sector of power and the aircraft service. EximBank activity is focused on the real sector of the economics. During his two-day stay in Bishkek, the EximBank representative met with the head of the National Bank of the republic, Ulan Sarbanov, and the Kyrgyzstan Airlines Chairman, Aba
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