Strong protest actions and week-long resistance of the opposition to the Kyrgyz official authorities are, at least formally, caused by the Bishkek – Beijing final border agreement. The problem has been disputed by the parties for many years already. The area in dispute is situated high in the mountains; it is completely unpopulated. The territory was divided in a 3 to 1 ratio, in Kyrgyzstan’s favor. Nevertheless, opponents to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev often resort to attacking the government and destabilizing the country.
Deputies of the Upper House in the Kyrgyz parliament have also contributed to making the scandal louder. When the problem of defining the border was considered for the first time, the deputies voted against the ratification of the agreement signed earlier by the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and China. However, later, President Akayev persuaded the deputies that it was senseless and disadvantageous to fall out with the great neighbor. The president substantiated the argument with a plan of for a trans-continental railroad construction, which is supposed to travel through Kyrgyzstan and connect China with Western Europe and Atlantic ports. The president thinks the project will radically change the geopolitical situation of the country. Kyrgyzstran may turn from an intercontinental country into a transit territory deriving great profits from Eurasia’s largest transport route. Kyrgyzstan expects to recieve $250-300 million per year from cargo transit (the sum is even bigger than today’s annual budget of the country). In addition, the main artery is to open ways for exploration of great coal, gold, non-ferrous metal supplies that are located in the area where the railroad is to be constructed. The construction of the railroad will stimulate considerably further development of hydroenergetics, as the main artery is going to be completely electrified. Construction of the railroad will be financed by Chinese investors. They also plan to create a service and tourism infrastructure in the area. Therefore, the solving the border problem is rather advantageous for Kyrgyzstan. The above-mentioned arguments were the main reason why deputies changed their decision.
President Askar Akayev called it a historic move. Indeed, this small intercontinental country can not develop well without friendly and stable relations with its neighbors. For Kyrgyzstan, China and Russia are its most important neighbors. Right before the scandals in the republic, Askar Akayev visited Moscow and signed an agreement on Kyrgyzstan’s participation in the Eurasian Community and its military organization. The establishment of friendly relations with Beijing may make Bishkek the key mediator between Europe and China, which is said to be a great power determining ways for the development of the world community in the 21st century.
Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/22/41539.html