Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 306 - (29/06/06)
Kyrgystan turning its face to Asia and back to Europe
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a godsend for all its
participants, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and,
naturally, the host - China. India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia have the status
of observer. Not one is a Western country. There is no carping about human
rights amongst its members, which grates so badly on the nerves of Eastern
They simply get on with talking business. Aware that they represent a huge chunk
of the world's territory and population (Its member states make up 60 per cent
of Eurasia and a quarter of the world's population), they have plenty of scope
Kyrgyz President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, met with SCO businessmen at the latest
meeting of the SCO in mid-June in Shanghai. He congratulated all the
participants on the formation of a SCO Business Council and Forum of
Industrialists and Businessmen. "I am sure that our dialogue today will
give us a new impulse for achieving our common goal to improve the welfare of
our peoples and to develop our organization as a whole," Bakiyev said. He
complimented the businessmen by saying that nobody knows better than they what
problems to solve in order to create favourable conditions for mutually
beneficial and mutually complementary cooperation in trade and economics between
the SCO member-states.
In their turn, the members of the SCO Inter-Bank Association are ready to invest
money in the development of industrial projects in the SCO member states and,
particularly, in Kyrgyzstan. The chairman of the Inter-Bank Association Vladimir
Dmitriyev said that napoleonic plans are already being carried out in Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakstan and Uzbekistan - projects many big financial institutions are ready to
fund: transport infrastructure, water supply and water power engineering as well
as processing industry.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch representatives said: "The SCO countries
should join the international human rights protection standards" - and
continued with a big list of reported infringements and a charge that in their
fight against terrorism Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, China, Uzbekistan and
Tajikistan are grossly violating human rights and the very law on humanitarian
development. Whether or not the SCO leaders gave an ear to the HRW's urgent
recommendations remained unlikely. Meanwhile, Bakiyev said that Kyrgyzstan will
host the next SCO summit in 2007.
The Chinese colossus
The Russians for various reasons are lukewarm about the new regime and
dispensation in Bishkek. Former president Askar Akayev, who now lives in exile
in Russia, was very much part of the charmed circle of post-communist autocrats;
and his disappearance so suddenly last year was an unseemly jolt to Moscow. It
has cast a chill on Kyrgyz-Russian relations.
China is the key to real progress. "The Chinese will become our best
friends," says Evening Bishkek. The daily newspaper reports that Kyrgyz MPs
have sanctioned local officials to establish contacts with their colleagues from
the Celestial Empire by ratifying a Kyrgyz-Chinese cooperation programme.
"Our officials and businessmen have long been in contact with the Chinese
and hardly need such documents to do that. Simply, China is more developed than
we are and is quicker in reacting to global processes. The guiding proverb of
the Confucius descendants is: 'Want to live - learn how to survive.' And they
follow this proverb from their childhood. Now we have got an opportunity to
formalise our mutual sympathies on paper by ratifying a cooperation programme,"
said the newspaper.
For the record, the programme was signed in Bishkek back in 2004. MP Temir
Sariyev says that "there is no getting away for us from our great neighbour.
It has a vast potential and a mighty economy. Even America has to reckon with
Says Sariyev: "That country is also a real goldmine of human resources.
There are many things we can learn from Chinese, they are developing quite
dynamically and their prices are quite good for us. The trade turnover between
our countries has amounted to US$1bn. The main thing we should do now is to
consolidate our positions on their market. We should not forget that they have
huge funds: the world's biggest currency reserves - over US$800bn,"
Says the daily: "According to Kyrgyz Foreign Minister, Alikber Jekshenkulov,
in the framework of their bilateral cooperation Kyrgyzstan and China are
planning to build a railroad that will connect Kyrgyzstan, China, and
Uzbekistan. The MPs believe that this project is good for us. It will make
Kyrgyzstan a transit state. Experts say that up to 10m tons of cargo may be
carried via this route. It has also become known that China will shortly grant
us 70m Yuan, of which 30m will be spent on the reconstruction of the National
Hospital and the rest - at the government's discretion,"
Lamentations about the Oriental twist
Not everyone in Kyrgyzstan is happy with the new turn of events after the
SCO meeting. "Kyrgyzstan is turning its face towards Asia and its back
towards Europe." That's how an article in White Steamer daily,
"Noodles for Kyrgyz Government," describes Kyrgyzstan's foreign
As the article goes on: "The presidential entourage is trying to stir up
euphoric moods in the public after a Kyrgyz delegation's visit to Beijing. They
want to convince people that the delegates have done a great job by signing a
10-year economic cooperation declaration with China. Now President Bakiyev is to
pay an official visit to Kazakstan and, no doubt, with the same result.
Meanwhile, sensible politicians and businessmen do not share this artificial
enthusiasm. The forecasts are coming true. The vice-premier is already openly
saying: 'Bakiyev's visits reflect the country's new economic priorities.'
Meanwhile, many people fear lest this 'cooperation' may turn into an open
expansion of stronger Asian states. Unfortunately, this is quite possible."
And the article then went on to lament: "Kyrgyzstan is a tasty morsel, a
virgin land, but, most importantly, not a proud country. It is glad at a penny
and will bow for every penny. We are acting as beggars, we are crying too loud
that we need investments. We need them desperately! We won't survive without
them! That's what we said from the very beginning, while we could shift the
stress and say - it is they who need our mines desperately, it is they who want
to invest money in us - and to get profit from us. We are not standing with our
hands stretched, in no way, we are just letting them enter our economic field,
that's all, but our own interests are for us above all. If we could say that,
everything would be different… But in reality - Mr. Bakiyev is going to Astana
and, I bet, again for investments. And again, it turns out that we are begging
them to take our national treasures."
"It is not hard to sell the Fatherland for a piece-work pay. But why are we
doing this? - in order to show by our economic decisions where we are going
politically. Kyrgyzstan is turning its face towards Asia and its back towards
Europe (echoing the White Steamer daily tag)." That's how MP Dooronbek
Sadyrbayev comments on the news that Bakiyev has given China the disputable
section of the Kyrgyz-Chinese border: 'Bakiyev has insured himself, at the
least, from the east. Europe does not take very enthusiastically to him, Russia
is cool to him. Now he is trying to enlist China's political support.'
Sadyrbayev goes on to vent his wrath at the new turn: " For the new 'White
House' (the Bakiyev regime), the principle of multi-vector foreign policy and
economy is either beyond its powers or against the grain. That's why the country
is rushing from side to side, as if we don't know that our active fraternization
with China may look much too demonstrative in the narrowly-viewing eyes of
Moscow and Washington. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. 'The White
House' has already announced its further steps - it will move towards the
Islamic world and Arab countries. This will be our foreign political priority -
and one more step away from the European world… Honestly speaking, even we in
Kyrgyzstan can hardly understand this, let alone, those in Russia or the US. For
them our region is a source of political instability. What they want - and this
is not a secret - is not to let Kyrgyzstan fall under the growing political
ambitions of China and the Arab countries. So, what are our political leaders
doing? Some experts say that they are seeking to show to Moscow and Washington
that 'we are going away from you, rush to catch us! Beg us not to turn our back
to you! Butter us up with financing!' What we are doing is a trick that would
hardly be called nice or clever in international diplomacy."
There is something to be said for this line of criticism. But since when has
diplomacy been 'nice?' It remains to be seen whether the new Bishkek policy is
Bakiyev faces growing opposition
Just over one year after Kyrgyzstan's March 24 Tulip Revolution Kyrgyz
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev faces outspoken criticism of his regime from both
political and non-governmental sources. Although the current political situation
in Kyrgyzstan largely resembles the final years of former president Askar
Akayev's regime, when the general public was dissatisfied with widespread
corruption and ineffective economic policies, most political actors now strive
to avoid another revolution. That is one gain of the turn events have taken.
The majority of Bakiyev's opponents are his former political allies who helped
him to oust Akayev's regime. Corrupt regime politics are driving more and more
prominent political figures into the opposition camp. To date, Roza Otunbayeva,
Azimbek Beknazarov, and Omurbek Tekebayev are Bakiyev's most active challengers.
All three leaders were also strong opposition forces against former president
Akayev. For several years they acted separately by leading own political
factions, but in late 2004 they united into one block.
The new political opposition claims that Bakiyev is repeating the mistakes made
by Akayev. Specifically, the president is becoming increasingly authoritarian in
appointing government members and curbing freedom of speech. To avoid a further
deterioration of political transparency in Kyrgyzstan, the new opposition is
acting more thoughtfully than their counterparts did during the Akayev era. In
particular, former foreign minister and Akayev critic Otunbayeva is drawing
attention to the success of political party building in Kyrgyzstan. According to
her, the current opposition values social cohesion and seeks to involve large
numbers of people, as opposed to clustering around a few charismatic
The new political opposition is also revealing some previously unknown details
about the March 24 revolution. According to Otunbayeva, shortly before the
parliamentary elections in February-March 2005, Bakiyev was pushed forward by
political figures from southern parts of the country. She claims that three
years ago, when Absamat Masaliyev, an "elder statesman" of Kyrgyz
politics and a parliamentarian from the south, was still alive, he informally
anointed Bakiyev to become the next presidential candidate. Political figures
such as Usen Sydykov pledged to follow Masaliyev's orders after his death and
supported Bakiyev as the Tulip Revolution unfolded.
Otunbayeva has been criticized for not revealing the nuances of the current
political regime while she was still part of the post-March 24 government (analitik.kg,
March 12). However, she claims that she was not able to remain in the government
because she constantly confronted the president's cadre politics and opposed the
many manifestations of nepotism. She was offered various positions in the
foreign service before parliament rejected her nomination to become foreign
Otunbayeva and Beknazarov had asked Bakiyev to make a report on March 24 about
the progress made by the new government since last year. Both opposition leaders
are pessimistic about changes brought by the revolution, yet neither denies the
fact that the revolution was necessary.
Meanwhile, the president had announced beforehand that March 24 would be a
public holiday, with nation-wide celebrations organized by the government. Top
government officials -- Bakiyev, Prime Minister Felix Kulov, Head of
Presidential Administration Usen Sydykov, State Secretary Dastan Sarygulov, and
Vice Prime Minister Adakhan Modumarov -- were all actively promoting the day's
symbolic significance. Celebrations were held in all of Kyrgyzstan's largest
cities, and a special monument commemorating the Tulip Revolution was erected in
Jalalabad, Bakiyev's birthplace.
Bakiyev's efforts to celebrate the March 24 anniversary show the president's
detachment from society's prevailing mood. Behind the spectacle of the upcoming
events, there is deep disappointment with the regime among both the urban and
rural populations. For many Bishkek residents the events of March 24, 2005, are
still closely associated with the looting and banditry that followed the
takeover of the government headquarters and the demoralization of
law-enforcement agencies. Businessmen who suffered from arson and theft still
have not received monetary compensation for their losses. "March 24 should
be called the day of triumph for looters and hooligans," one student from
Bishkek commented bitterly.
Speculation was circulating in Bishkek that another mass uprising against
Bakiyev government might have taken place on March 24 this year. However, it did
not. Members of the new opposition have confirmed that they are determined to
build exclusively constructive relations with the government until the next
presidential and parliamentary elections are held in 2010.
Bishkek, Beijing sign package of agreements
Kyrgyz President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and China's President, Hu Jintao, signed a
joint declaration and an agreement on technological and economic cooperation,
the Kyrgyz presidential press service said. Bakiyev was on an official visit to
China on June 9th-10th. In the course of his visit, Bakiyev also met with State
Council Premier, Wen Jiabao, and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the
National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo, Interfax News Agency reported.
The two presidents also signed intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in
the culture, sports, agriculture, healthcare, education, intellectual property
protection, and archiving areas. Kyrgyzstan and China also concluded a contract
on constructing a cement factory in Kyzyl-Kiya in the Batken region in southern
Kyrgyzstan, the press service said.
"The package of documents that was signed shows that the two countries
intend to expand and deepen mutual relations," Bakiyev said.
"Political, economic, and cultural-humanitarian relations between the two
countries are developing successfully, but we need to raise them to a
qualitatively higher level," Hu said.
"There are four areas in which cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and China
should be improved. Firstly, the two countries should observe the earlier
agreements and understandings under the 10 year cooperation programme, secondly
they need to maintain dynamism in their bilateral relations at a level of mutual
trust and interaction and thirdly, they should develop trade cooperation and
implement major projects in the transportation, information and communications
technology and construction areas," he said.
"We are satisfied with the work on the project of building a railroad to
connect China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and are interested in the soonest
possible start of its construction," he said. Bakiyev also participated in
a Kyrgyzstani-Chinese business forum. He told the forum that his country has the
third largest hydropower resources in the Commonwealth of Independent States and
is able to export 142 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. Bakiyev said
that Kyrgyzstan is willing to export electricity to China's western region. He
also invited Chinese electricity companies to supply equipment to Kyrgyzstan and
participate in the development of its power grids. "However, only 10
percent of the power resources has been tapped," said Bakiyev, hoping
Chinese electricity companies to provide facilities to his country and join in
the development and upgrading of its electric power system.
A delegation accompanying Bakiyev on the visit included a number of business
executives. Before departure for China, Bakiyev said the two countries have
established well-working and trustworthy relations. He also voiced the hope that
they will be able to broaden mutually beneficial long-term cooperation.
Kumtor gold firm sees gold production down 37%
The Kyrgyz-Canadian joint venture Kumtor Gold Company rescued gold production at
the Kumtor field 37 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2006 to 88,848
ounces or 2.7635 tonnes, Kumtor Gold co-owner Centerra Gold Inc and Kumtor
Operating Company said in a joint press release, New Europe reported.
The release said the gold production fell due to the low gold content in ore,
which was graded at an average 2.36 g/t for Au compared with 3.68 g/t in the
first quarter of 2004. The average sale price of gold was 548 Euro/oz in the
first quarter of 2006, up from 425 Euro/oz in the same period of last year.
Kumtor Operating Company's revenue in the first quarter of 2006 was 59.2 million
Euro, down from 64.3 million Euro in the same period of last year. The Kumtor
mine will produce 410,000-420,000 oz (13 tonnes) of gold this year, according to
an adjusted target. The original target was 461,000 oz (14.3 tonnes). The mine
produced 501,487 oz (15.6 tonnes) in 2005.
MINERALS & METALS
Alocoa may build aluminium plant
US company Alcoa Inc., the world's biggest aluminium producer, may build a plant
in Kyrgyzstan with the capacity to turn out 340,000 tonnes of aluminium
annually. The Kyrgyz Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry said that their deputy
minister, Turat Dzhun-ushaliev, had recently met representatives from Alcoa to
discuss construction plans for the 1.3 billion Euro plant, Interfax News Agency
The vice president of Alcoa's energy and supply division, Marc A.Pereira, and
the company's director general for Russia, Michael Mohajery, expressed their
interest in building a plant in Kyrgyzstan, Dzhunushaliev said. "However,
this interest has not yet led to an agreement or protocol of intent, the deputy
minister said. Alcoa said it now needed to hold several more talks and that it
would give its reply in the near future. Alcoa earlier announced the
construction of an aluminium plant in Trinidad & Tobago worth 1.5 billion
Euro. The company is also implementing an aluminium project in Iceland.