Asian-Style 'Democracy' in Return for European Cash

A delegation of the European parliament visited the republic of Kyrgyzstan

Deputies of the European Union are ready to help the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in order to ease its debt burden. However, this help will depend on the course of political and economic reforms. This was stated by Antonio Di Pietro, the leader of the EU delegation that visited the republic’s capital, Bishkek.

The delegation of the European parliament arrived in Bishkek to take part in the third session of the committee for parliamentary cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the European Union. The delegation included deputies from Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, and France. This visit is the continuation of the implementation of the special partnership agreement between the republic of Kyrgyzstan and the European Union. The agreement came into effect on July 1, 1999. Joint committees have held two sessions since that time, in Bishkek and in Brussels.

The European delegation paid major attention economic issues. Economic cooperation with developed countries will allow the Central Asian countries to cope with their severe social problems, with the poverty of their population, first and foremost. According to the deputies of the European parliament, Kyrgyzstan has been conducting rather active work on the amendment of tax and investment policies. Yet, serious political problems prevent their more efficient realization. As one of the members of the European delegation stated, Europe is seriously concerned about the recent events in the south of Kyrgyzstan (anti-presidential demonstrations).

European delegates also paid a lot of attention to the situation with free mass media. They believe that freedom of speech is a decisive factor as far as the estimation of the political situation is concerned. Officially, journalists are not subjected to persecution in Kyrgyzstan. However, they constantly face economic pressure. For instance, the government of the republic banned foreign investments in media development. However, the ban was then lifted by President Askar Akayev.

The republics president, Askar Akayev, pointed out during his meeting with the European delegation that relations between the republic and the European Union are very helpful. He especially welcomed the EU’s initiative, according to which Europe will double its aid to Central Asian countries. This was was decided after the tragic events of September 11. President Akayev stated that Europe’s help was of great importance to Kyrgyzstan, since the population’s poverty was one of the basic reasibs for terrorism and extremism.

Yury Razgulayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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