Wednesday 1 September 2004
September 01, 2004
U.S.: Former Rights Official Discusses Challenges In Central Asia, Iraq
The U.S. State Department's former top human rights official, Lorne Craner, spent much of the past three years grappling with the challenge of pressing reforms with new U.S. allies in the war on terror. During his final few months in office this year, the State Department de-certified Uzbekistan for economic aid and helped censure Turkmenistan in the UN Human Rights Commission. Craner says such actions demonstrate that, despite accusations to the contrary, the Bush administration has maintained human rights as a foreign policy priority. Craner talked with RFE/RL on the sidelines of the Republican Party convention in New York.
August 31, 2004
Central Asia: Analysts Say Independence Has Been Mixed Bag
Thirteen years ago today, Kyrgyzstan became the first Soviet Central Asian republic to declare its independence from the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan followed the next day, and Tajikistan about a week later on 9 September. By the end of that year, all five Soviet Central Asian republics were free nations. After years of Soviet domination, independence was hoped to usher in a period of rapid political and economic development. But RFE/RL spoke with two analysts who say the reality hasn't yet lived up to the expectations.
August 26, 2004
Central Asia: Japanese Foreign Minister Begins Tour To Unveil New 'Silk Route' Policy
Japan's Foreign Minister Yokiro Kawaguchi arrived in Uzbekistan today, starting a tour that will take her to four Central Asian states and Mongolia. Kawaguchi is due to give a speech in Tashkent that will articulate Tokyo's new policy toward the Silk Route countries. Kawaguchi's trip was already something of a success even before she left Japan, considering the Japanese Foreign Ministry has arranged a rare event in Central Asia -- a meeting in Astana that will include the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian states. RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier looks at Kawaguchi's tour and Japan's new strategy in the region.
August 26, 2004
Kyrgyzstan: Chinese Issykul Tourist Project Faces Resistance
The Kyrgyz government has made its tourism industry a top priority for development. It is looking to upgrade its tourist infrastructure and hoping to attract foreign investment. So it should come as good news that a Chinese company is now planning to build a large resort complex on the shores of Kyrgyzstan's Lake Issykul. But the project is facing stiff resistance from Kyrgyz politicians, residents, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) alike.
August 19, 2004
Uzbekistan: Government Announces Effort To Clear Borders Of Land Mines
After five years, the Uzbek government has finally agreed to help in demining its borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The land mines were planted to prevent militants from entering Uzbekistan from the east, but so far appear only to have killed scores of civilians. Though reports this week claim that the process of removing the mines has already begun, residents in some of the affected areas say otherwise.
August 18, 2004
OSCE: Organization Shifting To Focus Greater Attention On Central Asia, Caucasus
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should consider paying extra attention to Central Asia and the Caucasus. That's the view of the OSCE's current chairman, Solomon Pasi. Pasi, who is also Bulgaria's foreign minister, says it makes sense now to concentrate on those parts of the world, in view of new international realities. He also said it would be "far more useful" to hold the OSCE's major annual economic forum in Central Asia rather than in Central Europe. RFE/RL reports on what looks like a shift in emphasis for the 55-member OSCE, which is Europe's largest security and rights body.
July 28, 2004
Kyrgyzstan: NGOs Tackling Growing Cigarette Use
Tobacco use kills nearly 5 million people each year around the world. Despite the many health risks associated with the habit, developing countries in recent years have recorded sharp increases in tobacco consumption. A new coalition of Kyrgyz nongovernmental organizations hopes to initiate a national anti-smoking campaign as cigarettes continue to grow in popularity among the nation's youth.
July 22, 2004
Kyrgyzstan: Outspoken Ombudsman Possesses Unique Regional Voice
Central Asia is a region where few dare challenge the will of the presidents. Most officials follow their president's lead, and what attempts there are to find an official to act as a bridge, a mediator, between the people and the government are usually made to serve the interests of the authorities. But there is one man, the ombudsman in Kyrgyzstan, who routinely voices opinions that contradict the government's views.
July 20, 2004
Kyrgyz Opposition Seeks Release Of Leader
20 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The deputy chairman of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Ar-Namys (Dignity) party said today that the party's leader should legally have been released from jail days ago and vowed there will be protest actions if authorities do not release the leader within two days.
July 17, 2004
Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Diplomat Urges Bishkek To Set Democratic Example For Central Asia
17 July 2004 -- A senior U.S. diplomat on a visit to Bishkek has expressed hope for a democratic leadership transition in Kyrgyzstan after next year's presidential vote. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said this would set an example for other Central Asian nations.