Meetings in Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan is in crisis with its internal policy and we can say with all the fields of its governance : legitimacy of decisions and government, governance of the international help, of the university, of knowledge, of economy. Nevertheless, as anywhere else in Central Asia, the society seems to be involved to change things if we believe these following testimonies (english - french).

- Voir la version de l’article en francais.

Kyrgyz people have a real more complex society comparing with their neighbours if we look at the level of associations, the amount and the profile of non-governmental organizations of the country. Coming from Iran, from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, we understand quickly that the landscape is not the same. We can find out associations making community development and acting in different domains (human rights, support for economic initiative, promotion of the democracy), organizations gathering people from a professional sphere (union of the scientists), and also structures of interface and coordination, and finally agencies and international funders. If all this organizations can coexist, comparing with Uzbekistan, it is because the governmental and the legal frame is better to the cooperation : a certain freedom of expression is accepted, the financial investments for international help is equivalent to 10 % of the GDP in 2002 - source PNUD against 2 % for Uzbekistan. We can easily meet citizens knowing political facts, read an independent press (see links at the end of this article) and possibly participate to public demonstrations asking transparent elections, directly to the government and this supported by the United States embassy. All the actors we met can benefit directly or indirectly of funds from the international funders. We can see the effects of this "mirror" relation : the funders policies create partially the answer of citizens. It is more rare to see actors working on problems, around challenges, than working on specific projects or programs easily in the current cooperation model. Nevertheless, it is necessary to note the forms of initiatives established specifically around a common problem or around a common idea : working group for the reform of the Kyrgyz constitution, monitoring and advising groups, coalition for democracy and civil society.

Public power seems to partially accept this game. The last events provocated some arrests and disappearance of parliament’s members and are very pointed and contested by the population. The Kyrgyz political scene is strongly shaken and watched because we know it is a sensitive and unstable place of Central Asia where borders and identities are a real bag of bones. The culture of relations between government - citizens appears to be similar than the nearby countries. It is young, 10 years of independence and build with the cultural "clanism" and the power centralization coming from the former soviet system, transformed quickly into a parliamentary republic. Some associations even declare themselves that they prefer to work with friends.

The others long-time challenges of the country can be read mainly in the panorama of following interviews :
- the promotion of an education allowing citizens to be responsible,
- the promotion of a free university able to spread its knowledge, promoting the connections between sciences and connected with the society,
- the construction of the peace in the Central Asian countries and the promotion of a political community regional citizenship,
- the reform of the territorial governance with notably current work on the Kyrgyz constitution and the strengthening of the Kyrgyz civil society,
- the creation of a capacity of analysis and propositions of the civil society,
- the transition towards another economic system and insertion in the international market.

Academy of management under the authority of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic
- meeting with Adam Zakirov - director of the Public administration Institute, Almaz Nasyrov - vice-chancellor, Galina Eshmukha-Medova - department of international relations and Munzaev Salih Kadyriekovich - associated professor.

This academy is one of the public administration training center of Kyrgyzstan and is especially placed under the authority of the President. This status gives to the academy a power of advice and proposition. " What are the challenges of our country ? According to our point of view, we can say :
1. The project to reform the territorial governance which plans to reduce notably our four current levels of decision : State, province, district, municipality.
2. To reduce the violation of rules and mechanisms of governance and among them, corruption and abuses of power.
3. To lead in a satisfactory way the economic transition of the country whose effects are closure of factories, unemployment and poverty.
4. To go out of the strongly centralized, vertical soviet system and to promote cooperations and relations between institutions.
Current political crisis could be an opportunity to re-interrogate our political organization. The recent election of the president Bakhaiev could give us enough time to make a diagnoses and to build alternatives under the shape of a sub-regional conference. This process could promote exchange of experiences and don’t have to forget to build something connected to our history".

Complements :
- the web site of the Academy
- Public administration and public policy in Emerging Europe and Eurasia (project managed in Slovenia)

Institute of regional studies
- meeting with Atyrkul Alisheva - manager.

Two days after our arrival, the Institute was organizing a round-table with local associations about the Kyrgyz political crisis. " The Kirghiz political scene is very animated at present : the Revolution of last March, the departure of the president Akhaiev, the tensions between the first Minister, the new president Bakhaiev, the Parliament and the population, and abuses of power of our leaders create a crisis in our society.
The object of our round-table is to build a shared vision and to build propositions notably in the framework of the reform of the Kyrgyz constitution. We participate to the revision, initially launched by the government, and our discord with the officials widened within the Constitutional Council, so much and so that we started a real work with partners of the Eastern Europe, the Helsinki’s group to make concrete propositions. We work especially on the distribution of power, on human rights, on the exercise of justice and we would need some help of international jurists".
The institute, well known in Kyrgyzstan, is an association born in 1994 in the State university thanks to academicians, and was established afterward on the legal plan. Its vocation is to contribute to the creation of a citizenship and to promote independent expertise of local intellectuals and to spread their works. The Institute publishes books, organizes seminars, working groups, training processes, coordinates a teachers’ network focused on active pedagogy practices. Its also makes a work of lobbying and advising with the government.

"One of our important ideas is to promote an education that prepares the citizens to build and to live in democracy. Our system maintains a frontal relation with the pupils, with only a few contents about human rights and responsabilities, and not enough interactivity. We contribute to participate to its reform by connecting the leaders of another practice and another vision to this teacher’s network established in the framework of the Civil educational program (supported by National Endowment for Democracy, Counterpart consortium, Eurasia foundation), also with Uzbek, Turkmen and Kazak partners ".

To know more about it :
- the web site of the Institute

American University of Central Asia
- Ten minutes with Aïda Alymbaeva - manager of the Public Policy Research Center.

Aïda’s team wants to help especially the elaboration of local academician’s expertise concerning public policies. "We lack a capacity of expertise in Kyrgyzstan in many professional spheres, including in government. For example, the Kyrgyz republic, member of the WTO, asked the IMF to plan his macroeconomy. It is difficult for the young people to integrate the administration. At the same time we imagine processes to gather ideas, we would like to contribute to strengthen the role of the social leaders" says Aïda.

The American University arose from a project created in the university of the Kyrgyz republic by academicians, and then became independent juridically, with the immediate support of the Soros foundation.It provides trainings in the field of political sciences, sociology, economy and administration.

To know more about it :
- on the web site of the AUCA

Union of scientists
- Meeting with Valery Eremchenko - professor of ecology and coordinator of the scientists union, former adviser of the president Akhaiev.

" Kyrgyzstan is full of warm and good souls but it is politically corrupted ! The practice of the politicians is soaked of populism, of clanism and is led like a bulldozer. The way of sharing, distributing and elaborating knowledge in particular has problems :
- Our brains tend to run away abroad,
- Administration concentrates power and also knowledge in the hands of the administrators strongly politicized themselves ; and it is strengthened since 1994,
- The models and the university’s culture contain subdivisions, and separations of disciplines ; no priorities are given for cooperation and interdisciplinarity,
- The reduction of means : economic difficulties, increasing of prices of this year, poverty bring the State to reduce means dedicated to university activities.
The union of the scientists was created in 1994 with the aim to highlight university works and to promote relations among researchers. The activity is in stand - by at present.

“I would wish for my part to show the difficulties of our development, to boost the dialogue among scientists. But without only a few means, it is very difficult for me. Many professors exercise a double occupation here : taxi - researcher for example, it is very fashionable !
Regarding to ecology, Kyrgyzstan is a gold mine. But the consciousness of ecological stakes is very rare even absent. Economic difficulties do not help us. Nabu, an international association produces in my opinion a very good work for the conservation of the nature".

NB : Many thanks to Maria, student in the American University, for her smiling, immediate and effective russian-english translation.

- Meeting with Elena Voronina - coordinator of programs.

Interbilim was born in 1993 with the idea to support the Kyrgyz third sector and to strengthen it. Since, about ten actors are active in this domain and are gathered in the Association of Civil Society Support Centers.
In the program and the toolbox of Interbilim :
- To help the emergence of projects carried by communities (identification - expression of needs, organizational and institutional trainings, advising),
- To research, study, monitor, lobby especially around the subject of the associative action. The association is based in Bichkek and in Osh.
"Among the 5 000 registered associations, we can say that 10 % or 20 % are only actual. With the increase of demands from the associations, we changed our direct intervention for a wider processes of training and collective expertise. For example we established a monitoring and advising group. This group tries to collect data, to exchange experiences about the devices of cooperation and to make propositions for the funders and the institutions. We work on the Kyrgyz Constitution, we are member of World Bank Watch for who we supply diagnoses and methodological ideas on the processes of cooperation".

NB : we worked with Interbilim on a presentation of the conceptual mapping tool developped by Exemole - >

Complements :
- the Soros foundation

Eurasia foundation
- Meeting with Shakirat Toktosunova - regional manager.

Eurasia foundation is in fact an international Ong funded mainly by the USAID (70 %). Its vocation, shared with others international organizations, is to promote democracy and the private entrepreneurship in the twelve new countries of the ex-USSR including all the states of Central Asia. It is implanted in Kyrgyzstan since 1994. The main policy of Eurasia is to redistribute grants in the domains of private entrepreneurship, education, community development and to strenghten the civil society (associations and medias). It also supplies technical aid to the leaders of project.
Besides its technical aid, Eurasia promotes a voluntarist policy of building relations between the existing structures, thinkings and experiences with notably :
- the promotion of the cross-border cooperation between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tadjikistan,
- a education and economic research consortium (working on the phenomenon of corruption, governance and regional cooperation),
- a network of applied research in Central Asia (working on public policies),
- the support of the emergence of independent media ( Akipress for example, see further),
- the promotion of internet access and the educational innovation in partnership with the ministry of Education.

" We have an internal system of management to keep our memory and the projects sent to us. It is named Grants Management System. This system is common to all the teams of Eurasia. All useful documents are stored and indexed with keywords (relative to subjects, targets, programming process, actors). It allows us to make a continuance in the monitoring of ideas, financing, exchanges and schedules. We had begun in 1994 without real strategy for Eurasia, then we started cycles of elaboration, acting and evaluation of our action. We redefine our strategy by cycles of three years by using inquiries, brainstormings and in with our board and advising organ" explains Shakirat.

To know more about it :
- the web site of Eurasia

Coalition for the Democracy and Society
- Express meeting with Edil Baisalov - chairman.

One of the first project created with the coalition was, at the same time as its editorial activity with the weekly Demokrat, to participate in the supervision of the last general election (in February, 2005) and presidential elections (in June, 2005). It makes today a work of advice, study and monitoring on laws, lobbying and pleas. Ngo’s coalition was formed in 1998 during the referendum about the Kyrgyz constitution. "Our coalition contributed to reveal the third sector by placing it in the political and social debates. The political sphere being very split up and without a real agenda, it seems to us essential to carry a long-lasting and durable speech" says Edil.
The coalition is supported with the USAID, the National Democratic Institute, the OSCE and the Soros foundation.

To know more about it :

In two words :

Kelkel - youth movement
- Meeting with Mamatkazy Kaparov - coordinator of the network.

Very fresh, born in January 2005, Kelkel promotes another exercise of power by the leaders and the responsibility of the citizens. They widely participated in the demonstrations of last March 2005 and continue their action of sensibilisation and promotion essentially. The movement has links with the youth movements of Georgia (Kamara) and Kazakstan (Para).

To know more about it :

Central Asia Alliance for Water
- Meeting with Elmira Joldosheva - coordinator of young people parliaments.

Alliance promotes citizenship and active participation of the citizens in the society. It introduced and experiments a community, innovative and exemplary water management in 14 Kirghiz and Uzbek villages. They also promote effective parliaments of young people in these villages.

To know more about it :

- Meeting with Torsten Harder - director.

Coming from the German NGO called Nabu, Nabu Kyrgyzstan was at first in 1999 the tool to give concrete expression to the project of world reserve of biosphere in the northeast part of Kyrgyzstan (Izil-Kul’s region). It became autonomous for 3 years and its work for sensibilisation, the monitoring and the direct protection on the nature and biodiversity make it one of the most active Ngo in Central Asia. "Our NGO makes also an additional work to include local students. We welcome the young graduates to give them a possibility to dive into the professional action. We wish at the moment to extend Nabu’ in the other countries of Central Asia".

To know more about it :

Others links for information web sites or medias relative to Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia :

Bichkek - Kyrgyzstan, on October 10, 2005.


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