New ICG Report on Kyrgyzstan

by CXW on 12/16/2005 · 5 comments

International Crisis Group has just released a new report, Kyrgyzstan: A Faltering State (Asia Report No. 109), and it’s not looking very positive at all:

Kyrgyzstan’s post-revolution government lurches from crisis to crisis in the face of worsening political violence, prison revolts, serious property disputes and popular disillusion. There is a growing sense that it is barely less corrupt than its predecessor and perhaps less competent. The security services are slipping out of government control, raising the prospect of more chaos and criminality. If Kyrgyzstan is not to become a failed state whose fate reinforces the views of its neighbours that the path to stability lies not in democracy but in dictatorship, the U.S., European Union and other donors need to give the shaky government more political and financial backing.

Unfortunately, as usual, the guys at ICG are pretty much on the mark. The full report in pdf format can be downloaded here, or in MS Word format here.

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Gene Daniels December 17, 2005 at 7:10 pm

After living in Kyrgyzstan for the past few years I must completely agree with the ICG, except at one small, but inmportant conclusion they draw in the executive summary:

“If Kyrgyzstan is not to become a failed state whose fate reinforces the views of its neighbours that the path to
stability lies not in democracy but in dictatorship, the U.S., European Union and other donors need to give the shaky government more political and financial backing.”

What are they thinking?! More money thrown into a bottomless pit of wolves? Since the revolution we have watched countless new officials steal whatever they could get their hands on, with lots of attending violence. What will happen if there is even more money in the UN or USAID pool? The more that is at stake, the more fighting that is likely to occur as the government/criminal forces look for revenue.

CXW December 19, 2005 at 12:12 am

Gene, I completely agree with you – afraid I hadn’t read right to the end when I posted (internet cafes in Bishkek are not the most conducive place for a thorough reading of such reports).

Based on the last few months of being here, I would argue that if anything, the continued unquestioning support, both financial and political has been on of the reasons for the continuing lack of progress: everyone seems content to look on the bright side (‘the “revolution” was a significant step towards democracy’ attitude) and the government has been careful to emphasise the need for continued donor support and investment… The words conditionality and accountability seem to have been utterly forgotten.

The strongest critism of the way the new government is working was Donald Lu from the US Embassy who described the increasing influence of organised crime in relation to events surround Akmatbaev’s murder and subsequent protests by the deceased’s brother as “scandalous”. Is that it?!

It is time for the international community to stop being so damned polite and innocent about what’s happening in Kyrgyzstan and stop suggesting the same old tired solutions (if in doubt, throw money at the problem) that continue to fuel corruption and a mentality amongst government officials that they do not need to show any results or progress, and that more money will always be there.

At the moment we are killing by kindness in the long term by not demanding results from the Kyrgyzstani government and doing the Kyrgyzstani people a huge disservice as they find themselves continually unable to hold their government to account in any systematic and meaningful way; the international community has disproportional influence on the government and should use it, even if it is politically uncomfortable, rather than taking the easy option of handing over more money and continuing to view the country through rose-tinted glasses.

Kuda January 4, 2006 at 4:17 am

Totally agree with the above. I can be noted that nowadays the Kyrgyz have wised up to the Donar Game. Whether it be small credit loans run by NGOs in villages or big UN-esque interventions with big bucks, the Kyrgyz know how to play the game and just see the donars as people to rip off – this is largely due to the poor planning and inexperience of the ‘experts’ working in the country.

Babur Tolbaev June 18, 2006 at 1:48 pm

Hi! I am a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and for the last 10 years I worked for foreign NGOs. I agree that the new government has brought in some incompetent people in some sectors, and the level of corruption at this stage is hard to measure, I would agree that it did not decrease, but realistically, this isn’t a one night thing. Criminals were there, but now there are less of them. There is a hope in people like me who work directly with investments to country and I must say that donor money must be more efficiently used. There are some very good projects and there are not so good ones. Last two peaceful demonstrations showed that the society can build a dialogue with the Government in a civilized manner and try to keep the Government accountable. I think they will manage. It is easy to critisize others and lose hope, harder to have faith, and I think this is the right thing to do now, we need to have faith and continue doing the right things. Things will get better.

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