Books on Kazakstan
Update No: 327 - (26/03/08)
Union with Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's official visit to Astana, the capital of
Kazakhstan, is scheduled for April. His meeting with Nursultan Nazarbayev in
Ak-Orda will be anything but a protocol function because the critical meeting of
the Supreme Council of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (a supranational body) is
expected to take place within the framework of the summit.
As for the summit itself, it is expected to tally the progress the two republics
have made in terms of economic integration and on the road leading to
establishment of their union (the agreement to combine efforts to this end was
made last April). According to Kyrgyz Ambassador Janysh Rustenbekov, problems of
Kyrgyz-Kazakh border cooperation will be discussed as well.
Nazarbayev came to his Kyrgyz counterpart's rescue - moral and political -
during his own official visit to Bishkek a year ago. It was a period when
Bakiyev was harried by the opposition. Gaining strength in Kyrgyzstan then,
Bakiyev's political enemies demanded constitutional reforms. Harassed and
badgered at home, Bakiyev desperately needed some foreign political success to
boost his international image. Astana's offer of help came in handy.
The summit in Bishkek was a smashing success. The two presidents determined new
spheres of bilateral cooperation and suggested, quite unexpectedly,
establishment of a union at some later date. Bakiyev and Nazarbayev even set up
two supranational bodies - the Supreme Council of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and
the Council of Foreign Ministers.
Kazakhstan needed stability on its borders and economic partnership with the
neighbour and therefore promised Kyrgyzstan the sky in terms of investments -
anything to prevent political disturbances and upheavals. Nazarbayev informed
the host that Astana was prepared to invest "billions" in the Kyrgyz
economy as long as it kept demonstrating political maturity.
The guest even offered advice to Bakiyev. "From my own experience and
experience of Kazakhstan... I earnestly recommend privatization,"
Nazarbayev said. With the bait already dangling before Kyrgyz, Nazarbayev
brought up the matter of property and territories. "Our businesses approach
you and invest their capital here. Once that is done, however, they are stripped
of the license or they discover that the legislation does not work,"
Nazarbayev complained. "We would like to build a short road from Kazakhstan
to Lake Issyk-Kul, but the future of Kazakh property in the region remains
obscure. Your parliament here does not ratify the border treaty. Regrettable as
it all is, it breeds but distrust..."
Experts suspect that official Astana views solutions to these problems as an
indicator of Kyrgyzstan's readiness for productive and fruitful cooperation.
As far as the head of Kyrgyzstan is concerned, it is up to the parliament now.
The government forwarded to it a draft law on the lease of four resorts
Kazakhstan had built on Issyk-Kul shores back in the Soviet era. The parliament
is also expected to ratify the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border treaty (January 15, 2001).
Opposition objects to union
The opposition in the meantime is not impressed. "Our party has always
objected to this land distribution idea," Agym quoted Erkindik leader
Topchubek Turgunaliyev as saying. "We've already handed over a dozen
resorts to the Kazakhs. If you ask me, Issyk-Kul is becoming a Kazakh
lake."The rebellious south, the heart of the Tulip Revolution, insists on
the territorial integrity of Kyrgyzstan too.
The whole idea is seen as a way Kazakhstan can buy up Kyrgyzstan on the cheap,
in a form of commercial imperialism. There is a measure of truth in this no
doubt. But as a very poor country with scarce resources, the project is a very
promising way of putting themselves on the map.
The bilateral Kyrgyz-Kazakh trade turnover in 2007 was estimated at $571 million
(more than one third above what it had been a year ago). Kazakhstan is already
the largest investor in Kyrgyz economy ($151.4 million in 2007).
Shortly speaking, Bakiyev has less than a month before the summit in Astana to
deploy state machinery and ease the tension in the relations with Kazakhstan.
The work of the joint investment trust, the one Kazakhstan promises to invest
$100 million into, depends on how pleased Bakiyev makes Astana now. "We are
nearly finished with all paper work. Experts are putting finishing touches. We
hope that the matter will be settled during the Kyrgyz president's visit,"
Kazakh Foreign Minister Marat Tajin meaningfully said.