EU-Kyrgyzstan Relations

by Nathan Hamm on 7/18/2006

RFE/RL reports on a meeting in Brussels between Kyrgyzstan and EU officials over partnership between the two. Kyrgyzstan, they report, is particularly interested in attracting European investment.

At today’s meeting, the European Commission promised financial aid to some of the projects floated by the Kyrgyz delegation. The EU also said it will help Kyrgyzstan finance reforms of its penitentiary system, develop the energy sector, and fund a poverty-alleviation strategy.

EU sources said after the meeting all these issues are crucial in persuading European investors to target Kyrgyzstan.

Another EU official said the EU had to remind the Kyrgyz side that EU investors were not at the beck and call of EU governments. He said Kyrgyzstan needs to do more to persuade investors they and their property would be safe. He noted tourism would have “enormous potential,” adding that “tourists like adventure, but not when there are people with shotguns everywhere.”

I sometimes wonder to what extent Western corporations are really understood in the region. Uzbekistan’s treatment of Western investors shows that it either does not understand them or that it simply does not care about the long-term consequences of robbing investors. (For example…) Uzbekistan was also reportedly quite disappointed that a torrent of dollars did not flow into the country as a result of the US-Uzbek strategic partnership agreement back in 2002. Perhaps it was not clear to them that Congress had to authorize government funds or perhaps that businesses cannot be ordered to invest. The same seems not to be the case with Kazakhstan, and I am not quite sure about Kyrgyzstan. However it is, the anonymous EU official is quite right that the Kyrgyz government must be reminded that EU investments will not flow in because the EU wants them to, but instead because of things on the Kyrgyz side of the equation. Both the US and the EU need to keep expectations in line with reality while also making clear that the West is not so interested in forcing Kyrgyzstan to make any particular policy choices as it is in helping it make informed choices.

But the whole “no shotguns” thing? That’s just crazy.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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