The events of March 24 opened a number of problems, either the ones that increased gradually throughout the former regime, or new ones that represent risks for the stability of the small republic. One of the fiercest problems is the untrasparent idea of the present Kyrgyz elites as for the position of the country in relation to world superpowers and to other influential states in region of Central Asia. This causes untransparency of Kyrgyz foreign policy. Kyrgyz territory is a place where the antagonistic interests of world superpowers pervade, which makes it difficult to define the international position of Kyrgyzstan.
From geographic point of view, Kyrgyzstan is situated in the center of the Eurasian Heartland and in its territory pervade the interests of the USA, Russia and China, which mutually fight for the influence on the continent, but also the interests of its neighbours – Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. In case the realization of their geopolitical interests is a failure, a number of these states are willing to play vabank and to assert also by means of destruction and destabilisation.
Between Russia and the USA
The USA in Kyrgyzstan follow a number od goals. First, through its military base they have a possibility to fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Second, Kyrgyzstan is a clear link in the chain of “democratized” states, which have a relation of loyalty towards the USA through supporting the ideas of democracy and civil society. This is of great importance in the big geopolitical game. Despite all the advantages, accepting democratic values resembles imposing of foreign standards, which are put into practice in very short time. At the same time the USA do not take into consideration readiness of individual states to accept the standards of democracy in the U.S. concept of evolutional process. This causes another serious problem. While financing “revolutions”, the USA do not take into account further stabilization of the situation and subsequently a way how to lead the country out of the crisis. The country after the “democratic changes”, imposed and financed from the side of the USA, remains with their problems on its own.
After the events in Georgia, Ukrajine and Kyrgyzstan, it was obvious that the policy of Moscow in former USSR is totally ineffective. Only after the USA started active encircling of Russia with the ring of “their” states has Moscow begun to show interest in Central Asia.
The Chinese Factor
Besides the USA and Russia, China has recently increased its influence in Kyrgyzstan. So far it is carried out through gradual economic expasion, but eventually political and demographic pressure can occur. Kyrgyzstan is bordering the most unsettled region of China, i.e. Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, which is at the same time the most important one for Peking from strategical point of view. The original population of Uyghur region comprises minorities of primarily Islamic confession: Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Tajiks and the Kyrgyz. The idea of establishing an independent state of East Turkestan is very popular among them. Separatist ideas meet with understanding and support from the side of various Western countries. In this situation, stability in Kyrgyzstan is essential for China, as well as a president who would be politically and economically loyal to China. China is aware of the interests of the USA, therefore it considers events in Kyrgyzstan a security risk for them.
Kyrgyzstan and Central Asian Neighbours
The events in Andijan in May 2005 brought back danger of explosion in Fergana Valley. The relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are characterized by extreme tension because of unsettled territorial and demographic disputes as well as conflicts concerning water resources. The tension increased in connection to Andijan events and subsequent handing over the refugees to third states. Moreover, there are certain powers in Uzbekistan involved in destabilization of Kyrgyzstan. Their objective is to use the territory of the country as a bridgehead of realization of their interests. With the inept diplomacy and the passive approach to reinforcement of frontier units and authorities participating in prosecution, Kyrgyzstan already has to face problems of national security on its southern border, which is easy to cross and often shifts. This can result in strenghtening of Islamist powers, establishment of strong terrorist groups and sequentially in deposing the Uzbek President Islam Karimov. One of the possible consequences is the establishment of a caliphate in the area of Fergana Valley.
In relation to the high pace of economic growth and extensive financial resources, Kazakhstan seeks for areain order to get hold of new markets, including financial. In case of stability in Kyrgyzstan, transparent international treaties, improvement of laws guarranteeing investment protection, Kazakhstan is willing to invest its capital in Kyrgyz economy. Kazakhstan together with Kyrgyzstan can establish effective competition for Russian plans to control Eurasian market and in the future it can become a serious competitor to Moscow in Central Asia. The entry of the Kazakh capital in Kyrgyz economic system would enable to improve the economic situation in Kyrgyzstan and at the same time to maintain its sovereignty and national interests. However, Kazakhstan will not enter the Kyrgyz market under conditions of destabilization. It needs guarrantees, and therefore it is interested in the stability of Kyrgyzstan.
Univectoral or Multivectoral Foreign Policy?
Increasing geopolitical competition can have destabilizing effect on the situation in Kyrgyzstan. Military presence of the USA, Russian attempts to reestablish its lost ascendance in the region, concerns of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China, that any disturbance may destabilize the region – all these facts will influence the internal political situation in Kyrgyzstan and the attitudes of the involved states towards Kyrgyzstan.
The concept of the former president Askar Akayev foreign policy started to break down after the establishment of the U.S. military bases. After deposing his regime, the external players felt the necessity and possibility to re-establish geopolitical relations. This is testified by the declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization from July 6, 2005, which demanded the military bases of anti-terrorist organization to be withdrawn from the states of Central Asia, as well as to limit increasing visits of the U.S. politicians in the region.
At present, it is vital to choose a new, right direction. Concerning dependence of Kyrgyzstan on external factors, the possible options are restricted to a “univectoral” or “multivectoral” foreign policy, i.e. either to “friendship” with a single state that will make decisions in all economic and political matters of Kyrgyzstan, or to parallel establishment of contacts, which is connected with effort to maintain fragile balance and with defending of national interests.
Present power percepts the running crisis processes in a simplified, even primitive manner. Appearances of top representatives lack consistency and prove that foreign policy strategy has not been thought through. This is concerning relations with Russia as well as with the USA, China and with Central Asian neighbours. The new administration has to realize the need for unified political elite with the objective to guarantee sovereignty and stability in the republic.
One of the variants of the solutions of Kyrgyz geopolitical problems can be establishment of a trivectoral orientation. In connection to the existence of joint economic and political interests, alliance of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia will be a positive stimulus for economic development of the region and it will strenghten stability in Kyrgyzstan. The presence of Kazakhstan in the block will rule out direct competition between the USA and Russia and it will be an inhibiting factor. Trilateral alliance appears to be the most realistic way out in relation to the interest of Astana and Moscow in stability of Kyrgyzstan, as well as when considering their open approach to support Kyrgyz national interests and sovereignty.
Possible partnership between the USA and Russia could establish space for cooperation in Central Asia instead of confrontation. A number of objective risks of global character, but also related specifically to Russia and the USA, e.g. international terrorism, religious extremism, drug trafficking, danger of A-bomb creation, which come from the countries near Central Asia, could be a possibility for collective proceeding in Eurasian region. Differences existing in various political approaches in the region and the vision of its future do not allow to the full extent a unification of the proceedings of both superpowers in all matters. In spite of that, taking into consideration the mentioned threats, such partnership could become at least a counterbalance to the risks endangering the whole world from Central Asian region.
A small country, which does not possess means of asserting its national interests, has to be able to manoeuvre skilfully among states such as the USA, Russia and China in order not to become an apple of discord and a destructive element in the region. So far, Kyrgyzstan is dependent on external factors, but the situation in the region depends to a certain extent also on the policy of Kyrgyzstan. The leadership of the country has to fully use the potential of diplomatic measures in order to meet basic criteria of national security, as well as assert political and economic interests of the state.
Internal Security Risks
What was the meaning of March 24 to the Kyrgyzs? After all the events had been completed, euphoria had faded out, and after expectations of a better life, there is a time for reflection. What has society gained from the “revolution”? Any event important for the country is to be analysed in order to evaluate the pros and cons it has brought for the state. What did we gain? Unfortunately, Kyrgyzstan gained beyond any doubt more of the negative than the progressive and the positive.
Up to now some political representatives use methods of “presentational democracy”, e.g. paid meetings or populistic promises. They do not understand that they play a dangerous game, where stability of Kyrgyzstan is at stake. Their steps contribute to radicalization of other elements of population. The outcome is despising the law, which leads to even lower authority. Thus from strategic point of view the authorities go against themselves.
Critical groups and security risks are in the background of all the above-mentioned phenomena. The main risks in internal policy to be faced by Kyrgyzstan are high rate of corruption, which started to increase after March 24, margination, criminalization of political elites, and as a consequence further increase of corruption. Another threat is the deposed president Askar Akayev and his supporters, who secretly work against stability in the country in order to maintain their positions and to achieve rehabilitation of their power.
The situation in the country is destabilized by radical groups of (from the psychological aspect) bolshevik trend, where the most influential is the group lead by Nurlan Motuyev, which contributes to economic radicalization of population, groups of self-appointed regional leaders and kidnappers. Political tension and provocations are organized by former main challenger of President Akayev Topchubek Turgunaliev. The situation around Bayaman Erkinbaev and agression of his supporters and opponents also increased the tension. Redistribution of property occurs, and political murders are a fact. Criminal gangs of Ryspek Aktambaev and Aziz Batukaev fight against each other. The underworld has come out of the shadow and has begun to enter the politics and to give them their rules to their own advantage. Drug runners and international organized crime gained space for free operation, redistribution of property and financial flows of the country in the destabilized conditions
New authority will also have to face a number of problems that cannot be ignored – division of the country into the North and the South. After accession of President Kurmanbek Bakiev, the clan system and tribalism became of special significance, which prevents political stability. The key problem of the country is deep social and economic crisis and inevitability to face poverty of the population.
At the same time we cannot avoid such an important element of stability as international image of the country, which affects business circles and attractiveness in the eyes of investors as well as political and diplomatic relations with the neighbours and the whole world.
Great expectations of the people are replaced by certain nostalgia for the former Akayev regime. Disappointment in new authorities and expressions of resistance appear. Unfortunately, the new political establishment is unable to place the interests of the state above their own. Everything is as it used to be, or even worse. Instead of an accession of a new generation, a castling of the old authority structures took place.
The Way Out of the Crisis
Throughout last six months society has not noticed any steps that would lead to system changes from the side of the new authorities. No actual changes in the constitution were carried out that would reflect contemporary life and enable desirable operation of the state.
At present, it is vital to implement basic principles of operation of a sound, developed state, where authorities guarantee national security, life and property protection, authority of law, professional state administration and stability. The authority has to be predictable and trustworthy. In order to guarantee this, it is essential
– to create a functioning system of the power control and of control of equilibrium among its individual branches. One of the most important tasks is to establish independent judicial authority through the increase in the wages of judges and through reevaluating the system of their appointment. A revision of judicial practice is vital, as well as abandoning the Soviet approach of “arresting everyone”. At present, offenders are held imprisoned for minor misdemeanours, even the prisoners that could be useful for the society. This leads to overall decline of cultural and educational level, to undignified conditions in overcrowded prisons, and to violation of human rights. It led to the events concerning the MP Tynychbenko Akmatbaev.
– to define precisely the powers of president, prime minister and parliament. The shift of competencies and influence is unacceptable.
– the new authority has to reevaluate their attitude to media. It is necessary to pay attention to establishment of the “fourth authority” and to enable its independent operation, and to establish suitable legislative conditions. These are long-term investments in the Kyrgyz society, in development of critical thinking when obtaining information. For the politicians it is essential to elaborate a culture of natural acceptance of criticism directed at them.
– constitutional confirmation of the change from majority electoral system to combined proportional-majority system will be a stimulus for estalishment of political parties in Kyrgyzstan. It will enable the parties to participate in the state administration. All around the world, the political parties are a link between society and state, thus it enables them to represent interests of various strata and strenghtens civil society.
To establish a healthy and strong civil society, development of extragovernmental organizations and operation of a healthy instead of a populistic political opposition is vital. And finally – the most important is the realization of economic reformation and establishment of structures for economic development.
The events of March 24, 2005 became a turning point of the development of Kyrgyzstan. The crucial problem of intrapolitical stability radicalized awareness of the whole society under conditions, where a clearly defined strategy of development of the country is absent. Character of the society is determined by political elite, which – unfortunately – was unable to organize themselves in the course of last year. On the contrary, it proved its incompetency and unability do govern. The institucionalization of political elite has not been carried out. The processes of margination of the political elite`s awareness and of vertical structures of the power with a touch of crime are becoming increasingly obvious.
As we all know, in case the national idea and conceptual development of the country are absent, society becomes heterogenious. Joint values pervade with social and moral level of an individual citizen and in the situation emerged, the society has no feeling of security and stability, it cannot see a united authority. The Kyrgyz society began to adopt radical values in order to protect themselves and to assert their demands. As a result of the changes after March 2005, there is a certain risk of Kyrgyzstan falling into a situation similar to the one of their neighbour Tajikistan in 1992. We only have to believe, that the new president and political establishment will eventually find adequate methods and means to overcome present crisis.