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KYRGYZSTAN


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,737 1,632 1,500 145
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 330 290 280 178
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Kyrgyzstan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
198,500 

Population 
5,081,429

Principal 
ethnic groups
Kyrgyz 52.4%
Russians 21.5%
Uzbeks 12.9%

Capital
Bishkek 

Currency 
Kyrgyz Som 

President 
Askar Akayev



Update No: 293 - (16/05/05)

Kyrgyzstan faces a presidential election on July 10th. A deal has been struck that will almost assuredly decide the outcome.
This comes after a massive revolution earlier this year, which saw their former president, Askar Akayev, shooed out, after dubious parliamentary elections.
The Democratic Movement's recent congress decided that they would separate from the National Movement led by Prime Minister and acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The Kyrgyz Democratic Movement has nominated its leader Zhypar Zheksheyev for president. 
But Bakiyev is the key figure. He has done a deal with Ar-Namys Party leader Felix Kulov (a former mayor of Bishkek and former vice-president, sprung from jail by the populus in the course of the revolution), who has agreed to be his prime minister. This is likely to prove an unbeatable combination in the elections.

Eight people aspire for presidential position 
Officially, there are still eight candidates in contention. Bakiyev himself, Prof. Zhenishbek Nazarliyev, Social Democratic Party leader and head of the Forum Company, Almazbek Atambayev, politician Kubanychbek Apas, businessman Nurbek Turdukulov, former emergency situations minister Temirbek Akmataliyev and parliamentarian Bayaman Erkinbayev have announced their wish to run for president.
My Country Party leader Dzhoomart Otorbayev may announce his presidential ambitions at the party congress on May 21st. 
The Kyrgyz Central Elections and Referenda Commission has so far registered only one presidential candidate, Prof. Nazarliyev. Nazarliyev, who is a self-nominated candidate, was born in Kyrgyzstan on May 8th, 1961. He is the founder of the Kyrgyz narcology and psychotherapy schools, President of the Mind without Drugs League, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and member of the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions Board of Directors. 

Retrospective on a revolution
The election is being held in the wake of a revolution in March-April after obviously rigged parliamentary elections sparked off popular protests that spread from the south to the capital, leading to President Askar Akayev's flight to Russia. But why did it happen; and can something similar occur elsewhere in the region?
Kyrgyzstan is very much the odd one out in Central Asia. It was the only 'stan' not to have had its former communist boss in charge. Akayev, a physicist, was a compromise choice when he was chosen as their presidential candidate by the former Soviet leadership in 1991 on independence. He lacked the power base of the leaders in the other 'stans.'
He became much less draconian than the others, opening up to the West in a big way, even allowing Freedom House and the Soros Foundation to become established. The Open Society Institute made Bishkek its headquarters for their Central Asian activities. The US embassy was active in developing civil society, to put it diplomatically. When the electricity supply of the Freedom House institute, which was printing the country's only independent newspaper, inexplicably broke down before the elections, the embassy rushed in generators and restored supply. The opposition could organise as in no other 'stan.'
The ingredients of an explosive mixture were coming together. Akayev had already begun to alienate the population by allowing free rein to his own family's cupidity. His wife owned the largest shopping store in Bishkek, and his family other major shops, to be main targets of looters in the revolution. The president ceased to mingle with the people, seeing his country from his limousine. Official corruption mounted. 
A key fact was that the police, solidly behind the regime in the rest of the region, are miserably paid ($25 per month) and grew alienated from the powers that-be, well aware of their nepotistic, corrupt ways.
With a remote president out of touch even with his own security forces, a venal entourage, a disaffected population and a polity much less repressive than elsewhere, the recipe for revolution was being created. The fraudulent elections, in which virtually all those elected to parliament were family or cronies of Aliyev, duly precipitated it in mid-March. 

What next? 
The answer to that will have to await the new elections. Acting president Bakiyev looks to be the front-runner here. 
If one looks at the opposition ranks and possible long-term candidates for Akayev's seat, one can see that all of them at one time or another time worked for him. For example, Bakiyev was Akayev's prime minister, he had also been approved by the Kremlin only weeks before the uprising as an acceptable successor to Akayev after his anticipated retirement in the autumn. Felix Kulov was vice-president, security minister and the mayor of Bishkek, and Roza Otunbayeva was foreign minister. This is indicative that we can assume only a small shift from the general policies that have been pursued so far. 
It seems likely that the opposition leaders will share power for some time together. We see that the new government is composed of a coalition of opposition leaders. It remains to be seen whether this cabinet can push through structural reforms to establish a grass-roots democracy and protect the primacy of law, or if they wish to do so. This will largely depend on whether they believe that they can operate successfully independent of Moscow.
The revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine clearly had an impact on Kyrgyzstan's political opposition. The new acting Kyrgyz foreign minister, Roza Otunbaeva, had been in Georgia working for the UN when the revolution took place there in 2003 and kept in contact with her former associates. Other parliamentarians had recently been to Ukraine to meet with President Viktor Yushchenko's supporters and to examine how they had succeeded in overcoming the regime and thrusting their candidate into office. 
Bakiyev needs a good relationship with the man now in charge in the key interior ministry, Kulov, and to boost the pay of the police. It does not do to be out of touch with one's security forces, as Aliyev found to his cost! 

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS

Gul says Turkish businesses will remain in Kyrgyzstan

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul told Kyrgyz Acting Deputy prime Minister, Daniyar Usenov, who is responsible for economy, in Bishkek on May 5th to ensure economic stability in the country, New Europe reported.
During the meeting, both leaders discussed how foreign investments could be drawn to Kyrgyzstan. Gul stressed that economic reforms are necessary and also underlined the importance of transparency and rule of law in the new period.
While commenting that Kyrgyzstan should focus on tourism, Gul told Interfax that this country had the potential to become "Switzerland of Asia."
Problems that Turkish businessmen face were also discussed during the meeting. A commission was formed in Kyrgyzstan for compensation of Turkish businessmen who suffered losses due to last March's protests. Kyrgyzstan is expecting a new wave of business from Turkey in spite of the damage many investors suffered during the March revolution. Two major Turkish stores in Bishkek were looted and set on fire during the revolution, which toppled president Askar Akayev following disputed parliamentary elections. The Turkish Istikbal chain of furniture stores also faced severe damages.
In spite of the damages, Turkish investors are ready to undertake more work in the former Soviet Republic. However, Turkish business interests proved more difficult to protect, and negotiations are now underway for compensation.
Turkish investors are concerned about the level of damage done to their stores and premises during the revolution, and so far have not been properly recompensed. Gul said the damage caused on March 24 and 25th had not deterred Turkish investors, describing the anger of the looters as "understandable."
Gul and Usenov also debated signature of a new protocol between Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TICA) and Kyrgyzstan and possible contributions of TICA to the country. Gul also met his Kyrgyz counterpart, Roza Otunbayeva Gul, Acting President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and parliamentary speaker Omurbek Tekebayev. During the talks with Gul, Otunbayeva said Turkish Airlines (THY) was the first airline opening Kyrgyzstan to the world and he also told THY to increase the number of its flights to his country. Otunbayeva and Gul also discussed trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, the fight against terrorism and other issues.
Bishkek and Ankara have a long history of cooperation. Turkey has provided more than three million Euro in military aid since Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991. Gul expressed his country's readiness to offer all-round assistance to Kyrgyzstan. He said, "Turkey will always be close to Kyrgyzstan, rendering all possible assistance and support in various spheres."
Last month in line with a bilateral agreement, Turkey gave a further two million Euro for the purchase of technical resources, clothing and medicines for the Kyrgyz armed forces. Official statistics show that there has been a 23% increase in investment from non-former Soviet countries since 2003, amounting to 146m Euro.
Canada is the main investor, accounting for just over 25% of the total, with Turkey providing 13%. In the wake of the revolution, staff at Turkish-owned companies are repairing damage to their properties or preparing to do so, with one, Lion, forging ahead with expansion plans. "The Lion chain of stores plans to open a new branch soon, and intends to continue its business here no matter what," said staff manager Olesya Dubova.

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