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Kyrgyzstan - US Relations

US Secretary of State John Kerry had held the job of Americas top diplomat less than a month and he already become fodder for late night television jokes. Kerry referred to the nonexistent country Kyrzakhstan in a speech an apparent blend of the Central Asian nations Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Kerrys slip-up came during a 20 February 2012 speech at the University of Virginia in which he praised the brave employees of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). They support democratic institutions in Kyrzakhstan and Georgia, mindful from our own experience that it takes a long time to get democracy right, and that it rarely happens right away, Kerry told the audience.

The United States established diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan in 1991 following Kyrgyzstan's independence from the Soviet Union. The two countries have a strong partnership. The United States supports Kyrgyzstan in its development of an inclusive democracy based upon the rule of law and respect for human rights. Kyrgyzstan's 2011 presidential election marked the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in post-Soviet Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan hosts the Transit Center at Manas International Airport, an important logistical hub for the coalition effort in Afghanistan. Significant impediments to Kyrgyzstan's development include corruption, aging infrastructure, high unemployment, and endemic poverty. Kyrgyzstan, however, benefits from a robust civil society and a relatively free media sector.

The United States helped the Kyrgyz Republic accede to the WTO in December 1998. U.S. assistance aids the Kyrgyz Republic in implementing necessary economic, health sector, and educational reforms, and supports economic development and conflict resolution in the Ferghana Valley.

After September 11th Kyrgyzstan favored close relations with the United States and would like to deepen bilateral relations. Kyrgyzstan has advanced quickly in the area of democratic reform; however, recent setbacks in democratization have caused serious concern IIN the United States and make it difficult to expand relations to areas outside of security and the economy. The United States is disturbed by the deregistration of political parties, the pursuit of criminal charges, and the arrests of political figures by the Kyrgyz Government in order to pressure opposition. Because of the threat posed by insurgents and their ties to foreign terrorist organizations, security remains a top concern of the United States. The U.S. Government provides humanitarian assistance, nonlethal military assistance, and assistance to support economic and political reforms. It also has supported Kyrgyzstan's requests for assistance from international organizations.

Relations with the United States were strained in early 2006 when Kyrgyzstan demanded a hundredfold increase in U.S. payments for use of the Manas air base. In July 2006, a new rental agreement, favorable to Kyrgyzstan, relieved tensions temporarily.

The U.S. Government provides humanitarian assistance, nonlethal military assistance, and assistance to support economic and political reforms. It also has supported the Kyrgyz Republic's requests for assistance from international organizations. The United States helped the Kyrgyz Republic accede to the WTO in December 1998. U.S. assistance aids the Kyrgyz Republic in implementing necessary economic, governance, health sector, and educational reforms, and supports economic development and conflict resolution in the Ferghana Valley.

U.S. Government assistance goals in Kyrgyzstan are to strengthen democratic institutions, promote greater respect for human rights and the rule of law, enhance regional security, support broad-based economic opportunity, basic humanitarian needs and development challenges in the health and education areas.

Kyrgyzstan exports antimony, mercury, rare-earth metals, and chemical products to the United States. It imports grain, medicine and medical equipment, vegetable oil, paper products, rice, machinery, agricultural equipment, and meat from the United States. U.S. direct investment in Kyrgyzstan is concentrated in the hotel and telecommunications sectors, with increasing interest in construction and mining. Kyrgyzstan has signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. The treaty on double taxation that was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union remains in effect between the United States and Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan also has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the United States and other Central Asian countries establishing a regional forum to discuss ways to improve investment climates and expand trade within Central Asia.

Despite the political crises of 2010, Kyrgyzstan held a constitutional referendum and successful and competitive parliamentaryand presidential elections, all of which reflected the will of the people. The peaceful and democratic presidential transition on December 1, 2011 marked the first such transfer of power in the countrys history. During the elections, the U.S. provided support for election administration, training for political parties, assistance with televised candidate debates, support for civil society engagement and robust election monitoring efforts. With U.S. support, civil society has taken a more prominent role in public life, particularly with their mandated participation in public supervisory boards that include oversight of government ministries and the public broadcaster. One example of U.S. support for civil society stabilization and reconciliation efforts through small grants was a successful SMS news service, which sends text messages via mobile phone in Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek.




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Page last modified: 05-03-2013 19:05:43 ZULU