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Dwindling oil revenue may help boost Kazakhstan manufacturing

  • Written by Charles van der Leeuw

ALMATY (TCA) — President Nazarbayev is warning Kazakhs that it is time to tighten the belt and that the country should begin to economize. All this is implicating that the Kazakh nation is in for a severe economic setback – mainly due to the sales price of crude oil which has been cut down to about three-seventh of its level before summer last year. For the overall economy it means: no more drums and bells for the time being and back to basics.

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Turkey’s foreign policy in continuous evolution between Europe and China

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi, TCA publisher

ISTANBUL (TCA) — Armenia has just joined the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with a clear objective to obtain an economic benefit and support in the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and the economic sanctions of Turkey and Azerbaijan in response to the occupation of the region.   

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Central Asia main events in 2014 and their consequences in 2015

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi, TCA publisher

BISHKEK (TCA) — Every year is somewhat special and also different from the previous one, but some years develop a preamble of what we can expect in the near future. In this sense the year 2014 was certainly a remarkable one in the international arena, especially within such important geopolitical area as Central Asia.

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Combating corruption in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan needs a change of mentality

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Authorities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have stepped up legal action to prevent widespread corruption in both countries from getting out of hand. No official on whatever level is being spared, with the clear aim to gain public support for the campaigns. Much remains unclear, though, regarding the more profound causes and correct definitions of felonies categorised as “corruption” but consisting of a wide and complex variety of irregularities.

Kazakhstan
 
On November 19, news broke that former Kazakh PM Serik Akhmetov had been put under house arrest in his native town of Karaganda on suspicion of involvement in a widespread corruption network. His arrest is part of a large-scale operation meant to dismantle what seems to have been a well-organised circuit of briberies and kickbacks in Karaganda – which also happens to be the area where President Nursultan Nazarbayev originally comes from.

“The Governor of the province of Karaganda Baurzhan Abdishev was detained in September this year on suspicion of abuse of office,” Tengrinews reported of late. “This was followed by the arrest of former Mayor of Karaganda city Meiram Smagulov and head of the department on land relations Yernar Daribekov.” The wave of arrests also hit executives of the National Socio–Entrepreneurial Corporation Saryarka, the Special Economic Zone Industrial Park of Metallurgy and Metalworking, and KazAgroFinance.

Just two days earlier, President Nazarbayev had been quoted by news media as announcing the fresh campaign, saying that there would be no exceptions in the fight against corruption in Kazakhstan, following a meeting with the Attorney General and head of the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Combating Corruption Kairat Kozhamzharov. "We are prosecuting high-ranking officials in spite their posts. Everyone gets what one deserves if they violate the law and get involved in corruption," Nazarbayev was quoted as declaring.

Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, punitive measures against corruption and related cases take place on an even broader and more exhaustive scale. In December 2011, the Speaker of Kyrgyzstan's Parliament Akhmatbek Keldibekov, himself a prominent member of the right-wing Ata Zhurt party, stepped down after allegations that he had “links with organised crime”. “Keldibekov had been accused of links to organised criminal groups and of abusing his powers as parliamentary speaker,” a Reuters report published at the time was to read. “He dismissed the charges as ‘muck-raking’, although he did admit to giving a government car registration plate to a family member.”

Later, in November 2013, a court in Bishkek convicted the former city mayor and member of the same Parliament’s Ata Zhurt faction Nariman Tyuleyev to 11 years in prison, along with similar terms for four of his former subordinates. Appeal at the central city court has recently been rejected. The mayor had “…instructed two of his subordinates to purchase 200 buses from a Chinese company without holding bids and find a carrier (Xin Hai Teng) for the delivery of buses to the Torugart customs post for $1 million 412 thousand, although the delivery required $486.2 thousand only as the investigation revealed,” a review of the case by the local agency 24.kg was to read. The rest simply disappeared in the officials’ pockets.

Similar cases against existing or former officials have been brought by the score in Kyrgyzstan ever since. Some cases consist of complex bribery and/or kickback schemes, but most of them are of the same character as Tyuleyev’s and come down to simple racketeering. A typical defence argument is to label the case “political” driven by political opponents seeking either to eliminate rivals or take revenge for political defeat or challenge. Such attempts tend to be made with the aim to mobilise “humanitarian” and “human rights” movements varying from serious and prestigious ones to makeshift organisations with the final goal to circumvent justice.

Organised criminal groups

But the most worrying aspect of crimes resorting under the general indication “corruption” is that they are no longer isolated cases under the category of white collar crime, but increasingly involve the more classical category of heavy cloak-and-dagger crime as well. According to the chairman of the Kazakh Agency for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption Rashid Tusupbekov in an interview with the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda in early March this year, the involvement of organised crime in corruption schemes is no longer an assumption but an established fact.

“Uncontrolled cash mass is largely conductive to the shadow economy,” the official stated. “Cash is used in bribes, to fund terrorist organisations and organised criminal groups. Criminals are taking advantage of the absence of legal restrictions on cashing and through pseudo-businesses withdraw large sums of money, launder it, embezzle it, evade taxes. Over the last 2 years financial police have suppressed about 1200 pseudo-businesses, apprehended in flagrante delicto 125 offenders committing cashing and pseudo-transactions. More than 30 tax officials were brought to justice for patronising pseudo-business, including the former head of South Kazakhstan Revenue Department and his deputy, the deputy head of the Almaty Tax Department, and a number of heads of regional tax offices in different regions.”

But the official admits in his interview that crackdowns are not the final solution to the problem, which should be sought in an overall change in mentality. For “corruption” is not just the act. The word also refers to a general state of mind, either of an individual or of a community.

Central Asia to suffer from Russia’s currency decline

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, at the recent meeting in Astana of the Government heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) advocated a new common economic strategy from Russia to the Far East and an expansion of the present membership of the Organization.

Today the SCO is mostly a security organization grouping Russia, China and four countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan). In future Turkey and other countries may also be welcome. The recent meeting discussed a common economic strategy and the creation of an SCO bank that is considered very instrumental for the financing of new projects. All this is in words and on paper, but the final outcome may not be so easy to achieve due to different strategic positions of Moscow and Beijing that by all means remain the main financial partners and have completely different financial possibilities.
 
New economic strategies required with China leadership

China has recently created a new multilateral bank — the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — with the participation of 21 countries (including Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) and with $50 billion as the initial capital (see TCA 03.11.14), and is proposing the creation of a completely new bank in association with the existing members of the SCO and an initial capital of $10 billion. Such capital would be formed by the member countries on the basis of the GDP of each country, and this will give China an absolute control that Russia is not prepared to accept.

On the other hand, Russia is proposing to review the existing Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), with the headquarters in Almaty, creating a new bank with China participation. EDB is a financial structure initially created by Russia and Kazakhstan in 2006, with currently six members also including Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Nearly 66% of the bank’s capital was contributed by Russia, approximately 33% by Kazakhstan, and the balance of less than 1% by the other four countries.  

The bank was planned to be the development financial arm of the proposed Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). China, which is not a member of EDB, is in clear strategic conflict with the EEU through the Silk Road Belt initiative that is proposing a larger participation and bigger investment into all Central Asia countries.

The present plunge of the ruble and the possibility that Russia may enter a recession period that may last a couple or more years may put many projects on hold, while China will certainly go forward with its proposed projects. Today, unless political obstacles slow down the plan, it is possible that in two years the situation will be completely reversed with China in control of the economic development of the entire Central Asia region. If this happens the Eurasian Economic Union will remain mostly on paper and will never develop into the type of operation Putin plans. Furthermore, given the financial might of China, the proposed Silk Road Belt initiative will move forward and it is also possible that even the SCO may have to be revised if not  cancelled or absorbed by the new organization that China is proposing, all this to create a completely new political, economic and security scenario.  

Today, with Russia’s ruble trading at its lowest value since 1998, the situation demands that Russia concentrate on solving its internal problems and do all that is possible to restore the value of the ruble searching for ways and means to reach a reasonable compromise with the West. Unless such situation is clarified, it is doubtful that China would enter into new agreements for any financing in partnership with Russia.

According to Stratfor analysis, “Since the beginning of the year, the ruble has lost 50 percent of its value against the dollar. Russia's economic fate is closely tied to the fall of world oil prices; some 20 percent of Russia's GDP comes from its energy sector. To counteract the weakening of the currency, the Central Bank of Russia raised interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent, the biggest hike since the 1998 economic crisis in Russia. The crisis will severely hurt Russia's ability to import goods, so it will impact countries that rely on Russian markets for their exports.”

All this will have a severe impact on all Central Asia countries like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan that have a considerable migrant labor force in Russia remitting a considerable amount of money that is of great importance to the State budgets of various Central Asia countries. Not only the remittances will be greatly reduced in the dollar value but a large number of the migrants may also be forced to return home and this may create further unrest unless new investment by China will in some way provide additional employment opportunities in various Central Asian countries.   

If Europe will not feel the effect of the ruble devaluation, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries will certainly feel the impact on their skin. Such situation may determine a new political assessment toward the membership of the Customs Union and Eurasian Economic Union. This may entail withdrawals and a setback on Russian plans to recreate an economic link between the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Viewing Russia from the inside: economic problems and Ukrainian issue

  • Written by George Friedman

MOSCOW (TCA) — “Viewing Russia from the inside” is an article written by George Friedman as part of his weekly geopolitical column. Dr. George Friedman is the Chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996 and that is now a leader in the field of global intelligence. Friedman guides Stratfor's strategic vision and oversees the development and training of the company's intelligence unit. The Times of Central Asia is glad to partially republish the article that shows how the west may miscalculate the reaction of Russia even in the present difficult circumstances due to sanctions and the falling of the ruble. Such miscalculation may in the end push Central Asia toward China. There is no doubt that in the present circumstances both sides — the West (Europe and America) and Russia — have fears regarding world hegemony that is routed in a different culture and many decades of antagonism. The full text of the article is available at http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/viewing-russia-inside.

“Past week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8………. Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject. From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world — students at the Institute of International Relations — and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia's foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia's concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.

Russians' economic expectations

“I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people's minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

“But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return.

“The Russians suffered terribly during the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin but also under previous governments stretching back to the czars. In spite of this, several pointed out, they had won the wars they needed to win and had managed to live lives worth living. The golden age of the previous 10 years was coming to an end. That was to be expected, and it would be endured. The government officials meant this as a warning, and I do not think it was a bluff. The pivot of the conversation was about sanctions, and the intent was to show that they would not cause Russia to change its policy toward Ukraine…. Russians' strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations. There was no talk of cutting off natural gas supplies to Europe.

“If this is so, then the Americans and Europeans are deluding themselves on the effects of sanctions. In general, I personally have little confidence in the use of sanctions. That being said, the Russians gave me another prism to look through. Sanctions reflect European and American thresholds of pain. They are designed to cause pain that the West could not withstand. Applied to others, the effects may vary.  My sense is that the Russians were serious. It would explain why the increased sanctions, plus oil price drops, economic downturns and the rest simply have not caused the erosion of confidence that would be expected. Reliable polling numbers show that President Vladimir Putin is still enormously popular. Whether he remains popular as the decline sets in, and whether the elite being hurt financially are equally sanguine, is another matter. But for me the most important lesson I might have learned in Russia — "might" being the operative term — is that Russians don't respond to economic pressure as Westerners do, and that the idea made famous in a presidential campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," may not apply the same way in Russia.

The Ukrainian issue

“There was much more toughness on Ukraine. There is acceptance that events in Ukraine were a reversal for Russia and resentment that the Obama administration mounted what Russians regard as a propaganda campaign to try to make it appear that Russia was the aggressor. Two points were regularly made. The first was that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that it was already dominated by the Russian military under treaty. There was no invasion but merely the assertion of reality. Second, there was heated insistence that eastern Ukraine is populated by Russians and that as in other countries, those Russians must be given a high degree of autonomy. One scholar pointed to the Canadian model and Quebec to show that the West normally has no problem with regional autonomy for ethnically different regions but is shocked that the Russians might want to practice a form of regionalism commonplace in the West.

“Russians view Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth…

The Future for Russia and the West

“The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.

“The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.

“I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled — not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia…

“For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things. The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia's fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world — and there is precious little of that — cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can't calm them.”

This article was originally published by Stratfor (www.stratfor.com) and is republished with permission of Stratfor

Metal, oil and gas deposits could save Afghanistan, or split it up

  • Written by Charles van der Leeuw

BISHKEK (TCA) — With the bulk of US troops on the way home, fears of a return of the disaster known from the 1990s dominate the moods in Afghanistan and beyond. But where subsequently British, Soviet and American armies have failed to put the place in order, unexpected salvation might come from the mining industry and the oil and gas fields. But this also includes not just military, but also economic dependence from international investors irrespective of their nationality.

About a decade ago, a team from the US Geological Survey (USGS) started observations from the air using maps left behind by Soviet surveyors and optic equipment measuring the wavelength of sunlight reflection through which various types of metal deposits can be identified. The team reportedly spotted 24 deposits of a wide variety of minerals, including iron ore with identified reserves of 2.2 billion tons, copper ore to the amount of 60 million tons, along with gold, zinc, bauxite, mercury and last but not least at least a million tons of so-called rare metals in one district located in the south of the country alone.

Such metals, which include elements known as lanthanides as well as scandium and yttrium, are crucial in the electronics industry and scientific equipment, including in the military industry. China currently produces more than 90 percent of them but uses the bulk of its output for its own industry, leaving only minor quantities for export.

Mining is more than 6,000 years old in Afghanistan – the home of the legendary gem lapis lazuli. But the real legend to come true lies in the future. According to the government, mineral resources of Afghanistan have a sales value of up to US $3 trillion given current market price indicators. Independent estimates are more cautious, but still exceed a trillion greenbacks. State-controlled companies from China and India  have each won a tender for mining concessions in the vicinity of Kabul more than half a decade ago, requiring investments of $3 billion and $11 billion respectively. Both projects have been stalled indefinitely. The main reasons: security concerns and the absence of even the most basic infrastructure such as roads – not to speak of railways.

Hydrocarbon deposits

Oil and gas reserves, by contrast, are better located than the scattered metal deposits. Drilling began in Afghanistan in 1956, and the first discovery was the Angut oil field in 1959. Between 1959 and 1966 three primarily gas fields were discovered: Etym-Tag in 1960, Khvajeh Gugerdak in 1961, and Khvajeh Bulan in 1964. From 1966 to 1981 two additional small oil fields and one large gas field (Dzhar-Kuduk in 1971) plus at least two other small gas fields were discovered.

By the beginning of 1974 discoveries of proven recoverable gas had been made to a volume close to 100 billion cubic meters along with non-proven but probable reserves of another 30 billion. Recoverable oil and gas condensate reserves stood at about 80 million barrels. But assessments of later date make up for much larger volumes.

According to an American geologist named James Clarke, who has been studying Soviet and post-Soviet oil and gas surveys since the mid-1990s, five plays are recognised in the North Afghanistan basin which together are assumed to contain more than 95 percent of the hydrocarbons in the area. They are: 1) Upper Jurassic drapes, area of 11.6 million acres; 2) Neocomian drapes, area of 3.44 million acres; 3) folded Neocomian reservoirs, area of 9.10 million acres; 4) folded Paleogene reservoirs, area of 8.13 million acres; 5) western fold belt, area of 2.45 million acres. Total assessed recoverable petroleum in these five plays is 300 million barrels of oil, 145 million barrels of gas condensate, and 272 billion cubic meters of gas.

The hydrocarbon fields in northern Afghanistan are believed to be extensions of those in northeastern Uzbekistan and eastern Turkmenistan. Both areas have long borders with Afghanistan. Both from a technical and a logistical point of view, it will require both former Soviet republics’ full commitment and cooperation to develop the Afghan fields – but at a price.

For it could well mean that the bulk the output will go to Russia and China, which together share control of Central Asia’s oil and gas outlets – meaning in turn that most of the Afghan people will continue to depend on scrap wood and hand-mined coal to cook on and to keep warm. Plans for pipelines across Afghanistan connecting Central Asia with Pakistan and India exist on paper but construction is a long way off should it ever happen.

A possible north-south split

All this carries back to politics. The northeast of Afghanistan, inhabited by a majority of ethnic Tajiks, is under firm control of their leader Abdullah Abdulla. The area to its west, bordering Uzbekistan and the northeast of Turkmenistan and majority-populated by ethnic Uzbeks, is under even firmer control of Abdulla’s rival “general” Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of Afghanistan’s most renowned warlords. The former is currently chairing the government under President Ashraf Ghani, while the latter serves as Vice-President.

But neither of them are ready to give up a single inch of their position in their respective fiefs, and likely to entrench themselves in their corners once more should the Taliban march on Kabul a second time. This would leave Ghani, himself a Pashtun from the south where the Taliban, also consisting of a Pashtun majority, has its main stronghold, at the mercy of his dear brethren – who are unlikely to consider whether the “traitor” is kin or not.

But even in case the Afghan army should be able to hold Kabul, his two lieutenants from the north could well be tempted to abandon the south of Afghanistan altogether. Their domains contain virtually all hydrocarbon reserves as well as the richest, highest-grade mineral resources. Moreover, Dostum’s territory includes the only railway the country has: a short track linking the main town of Mazar-e-Sharif to Tashkent. The line has been built, and is being managed, by a subsidiary of the Uzbek state railway corporation. Extending the line to Kabul is thought to cost in the order of a billion US dollar. But it can only be done if Russia and China will do enough to keep the location secured – both economically and physically.

Waste disposal in Central Asia: a serious problem that requires attention

  • Written by Douglas Green


LONDON (TCA) — Throughout Central Asia, the sight of open-air waste dumping sites is still a lot more familiar than that of incinerators, producing energy and turning residues from the process into detoxicated usable materials through chemical reactions. Instead, polluting dumps containing both domestic and industrial waste colour the landscape. And on top of that, “invisible” waste such as bacteriological, chemical and even nuclear contamination keep creeping into people’s and nature’s very lifelines through soil, surface water and air. Financials forbid instant solutions on the spot, while comprehensive solutions for the region lack political will and long term vision of individual governments.

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Earthquakes: Central Asia to face high level of seismic activity until 2026

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Earthquakes, which appear regularly but with varying frequency and intensity in Central Asia and the southern Caucasus, were long believed to be the result of heavenly powers’ wrath against the human race. Today, scientists are looking for geological and natural patterns in their occurrence, with the aim to take necessary precautions to limit their damage.

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Foreign investment conflicts: Kyrgyzstan under attack in offshore arbitration courts, one billion dollars at stake

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — While lagging behind most other former Soviet republics in terms of boosting investments into its economy, Kyrgyzstan is also under attack from existing investors following conflicts over the latter’s operations. Several of such conflicts have been brought before international arbitration courts, based in various countries, with the result that the state of Kyrgyzstan was “ruled” to pay well over a hundred million in US dollars in “damages” to allegedly ill-treated private parties, and has approximately one billion dollars of request under arbitration.

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New multilateral regional bank for Asia launched in Beijing

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — Late in October twenty-one Asian countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, signed in Beijing an intergovernmental agreement for the creation of a new multilateral bank: the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Proposed by China and headquartered in Beijing, the Bank will be mainly involved in funding infrastructural projects in the Asian region and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2015.

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Kyrgyzstan’s difficult decisions to solve security and economic problems

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — That Kyrgyzstan is going through a difficult period is not a secret. The country has trouble records on many issues, not only those with neighbouring countries in relation to border issues, water and electricity supply, but also in attracting and handling foreign investment. Even the managing of local village men with their absurd claims, or the relationships between the North and South, is a problem. Kyrgyzstan has already seen two revolutions (one of which with very tragic results) that have resulted in the ousting of two Presidents and a countless number of protest. Several Governments have sought to solve the problems in a continuous search for solutions through several political and practical formulas or some form of legislation or creating committees here and there, but in actual fact nothing is really changing and protest, inefficiency, corruption, and overall dissatisfaction continue today as ten and more years ago.

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Central Asia challenges as seen after Afghanistan and Ukraine events

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — Several events that are taking place today will certainly affect Central Asia in the near and medium term. Here in Kyrgyzstan the recent return of American facilities at the Transit Center at Manas to the Kyrgyz Government marks a new political scenario. In Ukraine, last Saturday’s inaugural speech of the new President Petro Poroshenko made clear his readiness to dialogue with Russia to stop the ongoing bloodshed, as well as a direction toward an agreement with Europe and the intention not to give up the Peninsula of Crimea that Russia annexed last March.

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US Transit Center at Manas airport transferred to Kyrgyzstan

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — On June 3, 2014 at around 10 am a symbolic transfer ceremony of the American Transit Center at Manas airport, here in Bishkek, to the Kyrgyz authorities took place to signify the closure of the center and its complete handover from American control to Kyrgyz Government.

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Is Kyrgyzstan on the eve of another revolution?

  • Written by Giorgio Fiacconi

BISHKEK (TCA) — As the spring comes Kyrgyz opposition parties are re-organizing and traditionally come out with new proposals, protests, and rallies. March and April have already seen two revolutions in Kyrgyzstan — in 2005 and 2010, and there are people that would like to see this happen again this year.

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