Washington, 20 November 1998 (RFE/RL/) -- A leading Kyrgyz official says his country is ready and able to act as a binding link between all the Silk Road countries.
Ishenbay Abdurazakov, state secretary of Kyrgyzstan, made the comment Thursday in Washington during a lecture sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.
Abdurazakov says that Kyrgyzstan's strategic location at the center of the Eurasian land mass makes it an integral part of the Silk Road route.
Says Abdurazakov: "In our memory, the Silk Road has a symbolic meaning. It has, throughout several thousand years, played a role not only as a commercial path, but it has also played a role as a connecting bridge between people and civilizations."
Abdurazakov says his country is working hard to promote cooperation and create the necessary conditions for the transformation of the entire region into an area of stability, security and equitable partnership. He adds that Kyrgyzstan has made impressive strides along the road of democracy.
Abdurazakov explains: "Such concepts as democracy, civil freedoms and supreme rule of law have become firmly embodied in every day practice (in Kyrgyzstan). Favorable conditions are being created for encouraging initiatives and activities of citizens at the local level and for the development of local self-government."
Abdurazakov says his country has taken important steps by introducing private ownership of land and ensuring freedom of speech, as well as a free press. He says Kyrgyzstan's recent admission in the World Trade Organization indicates the international community is recognizing their efforts to transform their economy into a market-based one.
During the lecture, Abdurazakov also released a copy of a booklet written by Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev titled "The Diplomacy of the Silk Road."
In the booklet, Akayev urges improved cooperation between all the Silk Road countries, including mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, and settlement of conflicts by peaceful means.
Akayev writes: "Our country is deeply convinced that along the entire length of the modern-day Great Silk Road, no serious problems or contradictions of an antagonistic nature are to be found between the countries falling within its orbit."
Akayev cites Tajikistan as an example of the region's ability to resolve "chronic problems by peaceful means."
He writes: "The political will and desire to seek compromise and mutually acceptable solutions that have been demonstrated by the leaders of the parties that were previously in conflict, combined with the mediating efforts and good will of neighboring countries, including Kyrgyzstan, give grounds for hoping that the processes of peace and national reconciliation in that country are irreversible."
Akayev concludes by saying that Kyrgyzstan stands "full of resolve" to improve cooperation with the Silk Road countries and participate consistently and concretely in the integration process.