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Kyrgyz Report: June 21, 1999


21 June 1999

CENTRAL ASIAN SUMMIT NEXT WEEK.
The presidential administration announced in Bishkek on 18 June that a one-day meeting of the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will be held in Kyrgyzstan on 24 June to discuss mainly economic issues. Also, Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia could join the Central Asian Union as associate members. The Union was formed by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 1994. Tajikistan joined it last year.

The Central Asian Union Prime Ministers met in Bishkek on 17 June and signed several agreements, but failed to agree on forming a common economic area in Central Asia.

PRESIDENT VISITS A HIGHWAY UNDER RECONSTRUCTION.
President Askar Akayev visited a section of the Bishkek-Osh highway which is currently under reconstruction. According to the presidential press service, reconstruction of the first sections of the highway has been completed and the second and third sections will begin to be repaired soon. The Asian Development Bank and a Japanese fund for international cooperation have allotted for repairing of the 3 sections $167 million.

INTERIOR MINISTRY EXERCISES.
The Interior Ministry announced in Bishkek on 18 June that large-scale exercises on rescue works and actions against terrorism would begin at the Ala-Too training ground the following day. Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev and some other ministers will attend. The first such exercises were held in 1995.

TEACHERS CONGRESS POSTPONED.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture announced in Bishkek on 18 June that the congress of Kyrgyz teachers set for the 19 June has postponed till October. President Askar Akayev had planned to attend the congress.

TWO MORE AIDS INFECTED PEOPLE IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The "Vecherni Bishkek" daily writes on 18 June that the AIDS Center in Bishkek has registered two more people (a woman and a young man), infected with AIDS. The woman, a 40-year-old drug addict, arrived in Bishkek from the city of Temirtau in Kazakhstan. According to the center, six people had earlier been officially registered with AIDS in Kyrgyzstan, but the real number could be much higher.

CENTRAL ASIAN PREMIERS FAIL TO AGREE ON ECONOMICS.
A summit of the prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was held in Bishkek on 17 June. Nurlan Balgimbaev of Kazakhstan, Amangeldi MurAliyev of Kyrgyzstan, Yahie Azimov of Tajikistan and Utkir Sultanov of Uzbekistan took part. President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan received the four prime ministers before the summit.

MurAliyev said at the opening of the meeting that the four Central Asian states should form a common economic area and should open their frontiers for domestically-produced goods, easing customs and trade barriers. According to Muraliev, a lot of documents have been signed between the four countries in recent years, but only few of them are working.

The rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors. After the meeting, the premiers held a news conference. It was announced that a planned agreement on forming common economic area between the 4 countries was not signed due to numerous disagreements. Some agreements on cooperation in energetics, hydro-meteorology, rehabilitation of the waste sites, attracting foreign investments and others were signed, however.

GAS DELIVERIES TO BISHKEK RESUMED.
Deputy director general of the Kyrgyzgas state company Toktosun AbduvAliyev announced in Bishkek on 17 June that gas deliveries to the northern regions of Kyrgyzstan were resumed at about 2 p.m. local time that day. He declined to give details of the agreement reached between the Kyrgyzgas and Kazakhstan's private Intergas firm. However, he said nobody could guarantee there would not be new problems in the future.

Intergas cut gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan on 14 June and a delegation of the Kyrgyzgas departed for negotiations to Almaty the same day. Due to the mountainous relief of its territory, Kyrgyzstan receives natural gas from Uzbekistan through the Kazakh territory. Kyrgyz government owes the Intergas $3.2 million for gas transportation. At the same time, Kazakhstan owes Kyrgyzstan $22 million for electricity supplies.

Intergas has interrupted gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan several times in 1999. A Kazakh government delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Janybek Karipjanov visited Bishkek on 29 May. According to First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev of Kyrgyzstan, the two sides had agreed during the meeting that there would be no interruptions in the future.

KAZAKH DEBT TO KYRGYZSTAN.
Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev of Kazakhstan announced in Bishkek on 17 June that not the government but several private Kazakh companies owe Kyrgyzstan $22 million and the Kazakh government cannot be held responsible for those debts. According to Balgimbaev, the Kyrgyz government should hold negotiations with the private Kazakh companies directly.

PRESIDENT MEETS BANKERS.
President Askar Akayev held a meeting with Kyrgyz bankers in Bishkek on 17 June. Implementation of the agreements reached at the previous meeting last February was discussed. Acting Chairman of the National Bank Ulan Sarbanov told the meeting that the economic situation in the country is very serious, but there is no crisis.

The rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors. According to the presidential press service, a concept of cooperation between the National Bank and commercial banks of the country, prepared by the National Bank, was discussed.

RATE OF THE SOM.
Exchange offices in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 43 soms on 17 June. According to the press service for the National Bank, $30,000 was sold at the inter-bank trades in Bishkek that day, but the National Bank did not take part. The rating of the som was 41.99 to the $1 at it. The som�s rate was 30 soms to the $1 in March and 38 soms to $1 in April.

NO GAS FROM UZBEKISTAN YET.
According to the Kyrgyzgas state company, negotiations on gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan were still under way in Almaty on 16 June. The Kazakh private company Intergas cut gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan on 14 June and a delegation of the Kyrgyzgas departed for negotiations to Almaty the same day. The northern regions of the country, including the capital city of Bishkek, have been without gas since 14 June.

SUMMIT OF CENTRAL ASIAN PRIME MINISTERS.
The Foreign Ministry announced in Bishkek on 16 June that a meeting of the prime ministers of the Central Asian Union would be held in Bishkek on 17 June. There are nine items on agenda of the meeting, including formation of a common economic area in Central Asia in 1999-2000, cooperation in energetics, in joint investments, etc.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan formed the Central Asian Union in 1994. Tajikistan joined it last year.

PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT.
According to the parliamentary press service, the Legislative Assembly adopted on 16 June a decision criticizing the government's handling of bread and flour supplies. According to the parliament, the activity of the state reserves department of the Ministry of Emergencies has been found unsatisfactory. 4,248 tons of grain were embezzled from the Emergencies Ministry�s reserves in 1994-1998. The government must find the culprits and take urgent measures to satisfy people�s need for flour. To that end, the government could ask the Kazakh government to pay its $22-million debt to Kyrgyzstan in grain.

Bread and flour prices have increased in Kyrgyzstan by 30-40 percent recently. Vice Prime Minister Esengul Omuarliev reported to the parliamentary Legislative Assembly on 4 June that there is no grain in the state corn-bin. The government had sent a huge amount of flour from the reserves of the Ministry of Emergencies to neighboring Uzbekistan recently, because it could not pay Kyrgyzstan�s debt for gas deliveries from the neighboring country.

CENTER FOR STATE LANGUAGE OPENED.
A center for the state language and encyclopedia was opened in Bishkek on 16 June. State Secretary Ishenbai Abduarazakov delivered a speech at the opening ceremony, saying the government lacks the means to support the state language, and asked businessmen to make contributions. President Askar Akayev signed a decree on opening the center last year.

The Kyrgyz language was declared a state language in September 1989 but is still very weak in Kyrgyzstan.

KYRGYZ RUNNER TO FRANCE.
Prominent Kyrgyz long-distance runner Tolon Nasyrbekov announced in Bishkek on 16 June he will begin a run from Astana, Kazakhstan, to Paris, France, on 17 June. The action is devoted to the 3,000th anniversary of the Kyrgyz city of Osh, to be marked in 2000, and Nasyrbekov will go through Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany and France. Nasyrbekov ran from Bishkek to Astana (1,385 kilometers) in May-June 1998.

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