Clockwork Bakiev

by Nathan Hamm on 4/19/2006 · 6 comments

Bakiev has been like clockwork regarding statements on the US airbase at Manas. We’re about a month overdue and finally have a new statement. President Bakiev is making a stink about the US air base. Had he followed the pattern though, he would have come out with a lower price like $50 million. But nope, he is threatening to expel US troops unless a new deal is cut by June 1.

“Kyrgyzstan retains the right to consider the possibility of terminating the bilateral agreement signed on December 4, 2001, if circumstances mean we are unable to finish the negotiation process by June 1, 2006,” he said.

Well, I guess it’s not so much a threat to expel as it is a threat to think about maybe possibly terminate the agreement.

Of course, it would probably be easier to make a new deal if Bakiev were a little more consistent in negotiations and didn’t make statements in public that make the situation more antagonistic than it would otherwise be.

UPDATE: Changing tracks a bit, but from a story on the base closure:

Bakiyev later met with opposition representatives and asked them to be cautious in working with foreign organizations.

“You should work with foreign organizations very carefully, or you will hardly notice when you start singing their songs,” he said, without naming any organization.

Bakiyev said some foreign forces did not want the country to develop economically, and “regarded Kyrgyzstan as a base to promote their interests.”

“We should think first of all about our state and sovereignty. We should not become dependent on any state,” he added.

One of course never wants one’s state to be dependent on other states. One excellent way to avoid ending up in such a situation is to not demand that another state pay 57% of your state’s budget (assuming the number here is correct). One also might try to avoid sucking up too much to the neighbors.

On top of that, these warnings to the opposition make Bakiev sound an awful lot like his predecessor.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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David April 19, 2006 at 12:03 pm

Possibly entirely unrelated, of course, but Bakiev’s got his first official visit to Moscow coming up. The Foreign Ministry issued a rahter odd statement the other day criticising the US ambassador for her views on the HIPC debt reduction programme, a hot political issue in Bishkek these days. So this might be all part of the usual pre-Moscow visit rhetoric … But Bakiev could certainly do with the money. With trouble brewing, he needs to spread some largesse to keep his few supporters onside. Not to mention building up the early retirement fund.

Nathan April 19, 2006 at 12:11 pm

I almost included the stuff about HIPC in the post, mostly because I wanted to point out that Kulov formally wrote to the IMF & World Bank saying Kyrgyzstan was ready to join it.

I think Bakiev probably would have gotten more money by now if he wasn’t so all over the damned place. Increased rent has been discussed for something like 9 months now, right? Even if closed-door negotiations are getting somewhere, public grandstanding certainly doesn’t make it easier for either side to reach a compromise.

Brian April 19, 2006 at 6:06 pm

Is it just me, or does worrying about “sovereignty” seem to come up much more often in Central Asian nations (or perhaps FSU nations) than elsewhere? Sometimes it seems like it’s the only thing that gets worried about.

Matt W April 19, 2006 at 8:16 pm

Also unrelated: yesterday the Uzgen District Kenesh deputies voted to retain their old akim (Abdiriaimov) and reject the President’s candidate (Kasymaliev). This came in the wake of some small-scale protesting in the District center– coming up are similar votes in Karakulja and Suzak districts (similar protests took place in Karakulja– I thus far know of none in Suzak). This is the first debut that I know of of the new district keneshes “flexing their muscles” (they used to be elected separately and be fairly low profile, now they are made up of the deputies of all the local self-government units in the district).

The reform has it’s opponents, who have their own good reasons, and it remains to be seen how this will play out, but it may be an important step in making the akims more accountable to directly-elected representatives of the people. Incidentally, this was a reform introduced under the current government.

The link, for those who read Russian:

Matt W April 19, 2006 at 8:24 pm

Sorry, forgot to clarify that the akims of Uzgen and Karakulja who were dismissed were actually ACTING (i.o.) akims.

Wally Shedd April 25, 2006 at 7:38 pm

It is so interesting that this small number of US soldiers in Kyrgyzstan can cause such a problem. I was surprised that Russian suddenly cared about these troops, after they were there for almost two years. I was surprised that the Kyrgyzstan government (former) capitulated to quickly to Russia’s requirements. And now I am more surprised that Bakiev is such an undecisive wimp about having US troops in his country. He seems to have no remorse about associating with criminals – why is he so torn about the price for 1,200 US soldiers?

The only answer I can come up with is he is in a little tug of war with Russia – which has suddenly decided that Kyrgyzstan is their domain – and they wish to push the US out. Kyrgyzstan figures, the US should either leave, or pay blackmail. But when the US is gone, what will Kyrgyzstan get from Russia? How about absolutely nothing …

Beautiful country in many ways, but it is a bit sad that they are just a mote in god’s eye.

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