Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov attended a ceremony on February 28th to launch the construction of an automotive assembly plant in the country’s northern Chui region. The plant which will have the capacity to produce over 80,000 vehicles -electric, domestic, and commercial – is due to open in August this year. A joint venture between the Kyrgyz government, local enterprises, and the China Hubei Zhuoyue Group, the first stage of the project has attracted investment of $115 million. In his speech, President Japarov expressed the government’s confidence that the project will provide significant impetus to the development of the automotive industry in Kyrgyzstan and in turn, the creation of new jobs. The Chinese Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Du Dewen attributed the instigation of the project to a strategic partnership between the two countries. Thanking the Kyrgyz president for his personal attention and support, she expressed her hope that this project will exemplify a deepening interaction between Kyrgyzstan and China.
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The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has reported that 99 citizens of Kyrgyzstan – 28 of women and 71 children – have been brought home from Syria. The mission to return them from special camps in the north-east of the country was organized with the support of the U.S. government. The ministry said: "The Kyrgyz side expresses its special gratitude to the American side and international partners for their full assistance in the special operation and logistical support for the successful implementation of the fifth major campaign for the repatriation of citizens left in a difficult situation." This is the fifth mission to repatriate Kyrgyz citizens from the combat zone in Syria. The first stage of repatriation was carried out a year ago. In total, about 130 women and 300 children have returned home on special airplanes. According to authorities, all Kyrgyz arriving from Syria are being accommodated in a rehabilitation center to receive appropriate services to help them adapt to life in a peaceful environment. According to the latest public data from Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security, more than 850 Kyrgyz have traveled to the combat zone in Syria -- 150 of whom have died in fighting. Active recruitment of Kyrgyz citizens began at the beginning of the war in Syria, mainly in the south of the country, where the influence of extremist Islamic movements was strong. Both men and women were recruited. After arriving in Syria, Kyrgyz women married jihadists and lived there, while Kyrgyz men joined militant groups. At the same time, some men returned from the ATS and recruited members for terrorist groups on the instructions of the Syrian jihadists. On many occasions Kyrgyz intelligence officers have found large quantities of banned extremist literature and propaganda materials in the possession of men who came home to recruit. Today the Kyrgyz special services are still searching for those Kyrgyz who fought in Syria and haven't returned home. Investigations focusing on those people are ongoing, and if it's proven that they took part in extremist activities abroad, criminal cases will be brought against them.
The Kyrgyz presidential administration published a letter of response from Sadyr Japarov to U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. It follows a letter to the Kyrgyz leader in which the top U.S. diplomat expressed concern about the draft law titled "On Non-Profit organizations," which tightens control over their activities in Kyrgyzstan. In his response letter to Blinken, Japarov thanked the American official for his appreciation of the work of the 78th UN General Assembly last September, where the Kyrgyz President urged the international community to support Kyrgyzstan's environmental and green projects. But, he also noted with regret that U.S. authorities are interfering in Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs, emphasizing that the desire for justice and freedom is a distinctive feature of his home nation. "Regarding your concerns about the draft law on foreign agents... there are tens of thousands of non-governmental (NGOs)/non-profit organizations (NPOs) that are successfully working throughout Kyrgyzstan, addressing many problems on which the state previously had neither the will nor the desire to do something. At the same time, it should be recognized that some NGOs/[NPOs] receive funding from abroad, and not only from the U.S. and EU countries," the president wrote. According to Japarov, the Kyrgyz state, by legal definition, intends to control such organizations - namely, where their money comes from and for what purposes it is used. The president emphasized that the draft law - which MPs initiated and adopted in its first reading - is very similar to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) adopted in 1938 in the United States. According to the president, the analogous American law assigns the status of a foreign agent and controls not only the mass media but also any individuals and legal entities financed from abroad. At the same time, violations of this law or delays in registering an organization in the United States are fraught with not only administrative but also criminal penalties. "In this connection, the question cannot [help] but arise: why are you allowed and we are not allowed?" the Kyrgyz President asked rhetorically. In his letter, Japarov said that in accordance with the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, human and civil rights and freedoms - including the right to freedom of speech and the right to association - may be restricted by law to protect national security, public order, health and public morals, as well as to protect the rights and freedoms of others. In this right, Kyrgyzstan is no different from other countries. Japarov noted that it seems to him that when Blinken addressed him, he relied on unreliable information from NGOs who had earlier criticized the draft law. Japarov said that this information didn't allow the U.S. foreign policy chief to draw an objective picture of the situation with human rights and freedoms in Kyrgyzstan. "Only a small number, but a [quite] vociferous group, of these structures financed by foreign states... is a source of inaccurate information for their grantors. In addition, these nongovernmental structures often spread false, inaccurate information among the people, which...
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov to reconsider Kyrgyzstan's draft law on foreign agents, which is currently under consideration in the parliament and has already been passed by the country's Supreme Council in a second reading. In his letter, Secretary Blinken says that this bill in its current form "jeopardizes the access of Kyrgyz citizens to vital services." According to the U.S. official, after the law is passed, Kyrgyz citizens may have problems with access to health care, education and more services provided through programs run by non-governmental organizations with the support of Washington and other foreign partners. "Your vibrant civil society has long been the strongest in the region and a key part of Kyrgyzstan's democracy. I am therefore writing to you to express my concern about the Kyrgyz parliament's draft law on foreign representatives, which, if passed, would impose onerous civil and criminal penalties on non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It jeopardizes one of your country's greatest assets," the U.S. Secretary of State wrote. According to Blinken, many Kyrgyz NGOs and foreign-funded NGOs are already thinking about stopping their activities in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Secretary of State urged the Kyrgyz president to weigh these concerns and discuss them with members of parliament (MPs). According to the bill being discussed by MPs, the concept of "foreign representative" will be introduced into law, and will place special responsibility under the law on non-profit (NPO) and non-governmental organizations. In particular, Western representatives aren't satisfied with the fact that the bill proposes introducing an article in the Kyrgyz Criminal Code on "creation of a non-profit organization that infringes on the personality and rights of citizens." Active participation in such organizations will be punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of 100,000-200,000 soms ($1,100-$2,200). Moreover, the draft law introduces additional reporting obligations for foreign-funded non-profit organizations that engage in political activity in Kyrgyzstan. Other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, as well as representatives of EU, UK and other countries stated that they are not satisfied with the draft law. They also called on parliament and the president to reconsider the bill. "The introduction of onerous reporting requirements in the draft law is likely to prove crippling for small and medium-sized media organizations and create significant risks for media freedom and open debate on issues of public interest in the [Kyrgyz Republic]. It is particularly worrying that the amendments under consideration would impose almost complete state control over the right to free expression of civil society and media representatives," said Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The discussion about draft laws on NGOs and foreign agents has been going on in Kyrgyzstan for several years. Amendments and additions have been made to the draft law. Now the bill is close to final adoption and signing by the president. Speaking at the People's Kurultai last December, President Japarov said that more than...
The ongoing process of delimiting the state border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was discussed during a February 5th meeting between Tajikistan’s president Emomali Rahmon and Kyrgyzstan’s minister of foreign affairs Jeenbek Kulubaev in Dushanbe. The parties announced that over the past four months the Kyrgyz and Tajik sides have reached an agreement on 196km of the state border, and to date almost 90% of their 975km border has been prepared for demarcation, the Tajik president’s press service said. Mr Rahmon and Mr Kulubaev also discussed the joint use of water resources of transboundary rivers, and the expansion of commercial and economic relations between the two countries. The delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has been an issue since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The issue has turned into an urgent problem in recent years after several deadly clashes took place along disputed segments of the border. Many border areas in Central Asian republics have been disputed since 1991. The situation is particularly complicated around the numerous exclaves in the Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will be working together to open an additional checkpoint for goods vehicles on their countries’ border. They are also set to further their cooperation in the water and energy sectors. These agreements were reached at a meeting between the Kazakh prime minister, Alikhan Smailov, and the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet of ministers Akylbek Japarov in Almaty on February 1st. Kyrgyzstan has complained for years about long lines at the Kazakh border for its cargo trucks bringing goods to Russia through Kazakhstan. The most recent big traffic jam occurred on the Kyrgyz side of the border in August 2023, when more than 600 trucks were stuck at the crossing. These delays were caused by Kazakh authorities carrying out enhanced checks on trucks entering the country from Kyrgyzstan, ostensibly to combat illegal border activity. However, the situation caused speculation that the jams were a result of a dispute over irrigation water resources between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Irrigation water remains an issue in Kazakh-Kyrgyz relations. Last summer the southern regions of Kazakhstan experienced a severe shortage of water for their fields, while upstream Kyrgyzstan also lacked water and couldn’t supply enough of it to its northern neighbor. Kazakhstan, especially its dry southern regions, is dependent on water coming from Kyrgyzstan. At the meeting on February 1st Mr Smailov also spoke about the growing trade between the two countries, with bilateral trade growing by 12% and reaching $1.3bn between January and November 2023.