Books on Kyrgyzstan
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: 279 - (23/03/04)
The Kyrgyz are the most neglected of the Central Asians by the wider world. They are also of course remote from the west, deep in Central Asia as the Chinese frontier. However several countries other than Russia are interested in their mineral resources.
Kyrgyzstan, although a remote backwater with little to offer the rest of the world is in fact a fabulously beautiful country if the traveller is intrepid enough to penetrate its high mountains. The absence of tourist facilities beyond the most primitive makes this a little known fact, in the west, although in Soviet times many discerning Russians came here for vacations.
Foreign investment outside the gold industry is miniscule. Kyrgyzstan attracted $38m of foreign investment into agriculture and related industries last year. In all the complex attracted $227m in 2003, of which $176m was loan funds from the international institutions.
The Kyrgyz lack the resources of Kazakstan or Turkmenistan or the prime position of Uzbekistan. They do not adjoin Afghanistan, which is giving Tajikistan a new prominence. They are likely to remain the poor cousins of Central Asia for a long time to come.
The IMF is hands on
Nevertheless, the international community is not ignoring the remote republic. Kyrgyz Finance Minister, Bolot Abildayev, recently praised his country's cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "Cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the IMD and the three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility programme (PRGF) have helped Kyrgyzstan make structural transformations, overcome the economic crisis, and improve the macroeconomic situation," the minister told a press conference on January 29th.
"Rescheduling part of the foreign debt and a delay in some payments, which would have been impossible without cooperation with the IMF, were key positive moments," the minister said. "The IMF board thinks that Kyrgyzstan has successfully accomplished the second year of the PRGF programme, which was launched in 2001," he added.
"Thus Kyrgyzstan can hope for the success of negotiations with the Paris Club and writing off about US$450m in Kyrgyz debt on bilateral loans." In a related development, Kyrgyzstan will increase its foreign trade turnover 8-9 per cent in 2004 to US$1.32bn, foreign Trade and industry Minister, Sadriddin Dzienbekov, said at a ministry meeting recently.
Production conditions at home and the situation on the foreign market will especially enable increased exports of non-ferrous metals, electricity, cotton, tobacco, and other agriculture products, he said. Exports are predicted to increase by 10 per cent to US$594m, he said.
Talks should be completed this year on Kyrgyzstan joining the agreement on government procurement within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, he said.
First Deputy foreign Trade and Industry Minister, Mukhtar Zhumaliev, told Interfax News Agency that foreign trade is expected to be up 12.8 per cent in 2003 to US$1.21bn, with exports up 11.2 per cent to US$540m and imports up 14.2 per cent to US$670m. Exports without including the Kumtor gold production company are expected at US$324.3m, up 0.5 per cent Kyrgyzstan is expected to have a foreign trade deficit of US$130m in 2003.
Kyrgyzstan last year traded with 102 countries. Kyrgyzstan upped its trade with Kazakstan by 35.2 per cent, with Russia by 34.9 per cent, Tajikistan - 54.25, Turkey - 10.5 per cent, China - 0.3 per cent, and Canada - 140 per cent. In other economic developments, inflation in Kyrgyzstan reached 5.6 per cent in 2003, the National Statistics Committee said. In particular, food prices went up 5.2 per cent in 2003. In the Kygyz law on the state budget, inflation was projected at 5 per cent, and the finance ministry projected it at 4.1 per cent. In late December, Prime Minister, Nikolai Tanayev, said the annual inflation rate would reach 5.1 per cent.
Opposition mounts ahead of 2005 presidential election
The president, Askar Akayev, is supposedly standing down in next year's election to his post. Things cannot be taken for granted here, nor is the opposition doing so. Akayev is not without adversaries. In order to refresh the opposition's political chances, Akayev's critics have been renewing calls for the release of jailed political leader Feliks Kulov recently, eurasianet said in a report.
Amendments to the state's election code, ratified earlier this year, confirm that official campaigning for the parliamentary vote can kick off just 25 days before the actual election date. Anyone ready to campaign for the presidential post will have 35 days to promote themselves. Despite these strictures, opposition and pro-government forces have already started pre-election manoeuvring. The media in Kyrgyzstan has said Kulov is probably the most charismatic and popular politician in the county. Imprisoned three years ago on abuse-of-power charges, Kulov's case was in the spotlight for some time in the former soviet republic. However, public anger over the incident has faded. These days though a number of government opponents view Kulov as the best hope for leading the opposition to victory in 2005.
Since last February Kyrgyz opposition leaders have been in a mess; the result of which came when voters green-lighted Akayev-backed changes to the state constitution.
Opposition leaders are optimistically putting the pressure on Akayev and his administration to allow Kulov's participation in next year's election.
At a public hearing in late January, about 400 Kulov supporters - drawn from opposition political circles and the non-governmental organisation sector - demanded his immediate release. For many participants, Kulov is the principal symbol of what they portray as government despotism. Kulov's imprisonment is linked primarily to the fact that he is the incumbent president's most powerful political rival. The government's apparent continued desire to keep him behind bars is a reflection of the administration's concern about his popularity, Topchubek Turgunaliyev, a prominent opposition figure, said. "If Kulov was released, he would win the 2005 presidential election."
The opposition hopes to turn the Kulov issue into a measure of Bishkek's commitment to free and fair elections. Kyrgyz Central Election Commission Chairman, Sulaiman Imanbayev, defended the recent electoral code amendments, saying they will enhance the transparency of votes in Kyrgyzstan. Opposition leaders are obviously sceptical that current authority will refrain from manipulating the system for its own electoral benefit.
Bishkek draws FDI US$38bn in major industrial schemes
Kyrgyzstan raised US$38bn in foreign investments for programmes in its agriculture and related industries complex in 2003, First Deputy agricultural, Water and Processing Industries Minister, Mamatsharp Turdukulov said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
The sector implemented seven investment projects last year costing US$226.7m, loan funds accounting for US$176.8m.
Three projects involved water management, organising of drinking water supply and comprehensive programmes.
There has been US$77.7m spent on these projects to date. The main donors financing agricultural projects in Kyrgyzstan are World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
The main cooperation priorities are water, seed production, pedigree work, ensuring rural dwellers have potable water, processing and marketing agricultural product and developing lending to growers.
The sector of geological exploration also drew considerable investments initiatives in the country, soaring 34%, 233m som in 2003 from 173.8m som in 2002.
Director of the State Geology and Mineral Resources Agency, Sheishenaly Murzagaziyev recently disclosed the above figures noting that foreign investments in exploration came to 185m som. These included 118m som in gold exploration and 64.4m som in oil and gas exploration.
Companies from China, Canada, Russia, the United States, Australia and Kazakstan stepped up geological work, the official said.
The state budget allocated 34.743 som for geological exploration last year.
The money financed oil and gas exploration in the Chu and Issyk-Kol depressions which revealed potentially viable deposits, and coal exploration in the Alay depression in the Karakavak-Karautok area, which could hold upwards o two million tonnes of coal.
Chinese companies An Bang and Proadtek prospected potential oil and gas fields in the Alay, Talas, Bazar-Korgon and Uzgen depressions. Xi Bu Holding, another Chinese company is financing geological work at potential coal sites in the Aalay depression and is developing the Sary-Mogol coalfield, which it explored at its own expense.
Mineral developers paid about 360m som into the budget in deductions for the replenishment of the mineral base in 2003.
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