Friday 1 October 2004
September 23, 2004
Central Asia: Shanghai Cooperation Organization Signs Agreement In Bishkek
The Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met today in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. Officials from the member countries -- Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and China -- discussed plans to develop regional economic cooperation and signed an economic agreement. The group was formed in 1996 to fight terrorism and Islamic extremism, but now is taking on other priorities aimed at regional development.
September 17, 2004
Central Asia: NGOs Face Rising Tide Of Suspicion From Governments (Part 2)
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) face a double challenge in Central Asia. Not only must they carry out their difficult mission, but they must also contend with often-hostile authorities. The Central Asian countries are in the processes of a radical transition and suspicions of the motives of foreign NGOs are easily aroused among officials. In the second of a two-part series, RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier looks at the trials and tribulations of foreign NGOs in Central Asia. To see Part 1, click here --> /featuresarticle/2004/09/521ae994-dbf2-4ea3-a36a-c9d3215ea1f4.html .
September 17, 2004
Central Asia: NGOs Helping To Develop Civil Society (Part 1)
Working with refugees is one of the many areas NGOs focus on in the region In free societies, individuals and groups often pursue their interests -- and safeguard them -- in ways that are independent of the state. Collectively, their private actions belong to what is termed "civil society" -- and are the foundation of any democracy. Yet while vital to helping repressed peoples achieve greater political freedom, civil society is not born overnight. It takes time -- and hard work -- to develop. And that's where nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are playing a key role in Central Asia and Afghanistan as they seek to overcome decades of authoritarianism and war. This is the first of a two-part series on NGOs in Central Asia. To see Part 2, click here --> /featuresarticle/2004/09/4ad7f4c1-8aad-481a-a6b3-d7d3201dc023.html .
September 14, 2004
Afghanistan: Asian ECO Leaders Create Reconstruction Fund
Asian political leaders have created a special fund to help Afghanistan with priority reconstruction projects. The fund was announced today as heads of state from 10 countries in the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) gathered in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. On the sidelines of the summit, the presidents of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan have been talking about a proposed highway project that could become a major trade route for their countries.
September 13, 2004
Iran: Khatami Hoping Tajik Visit Will Lead To Better Ties
Iran was the first country to recognize Tajikistan's independence in the early 1990s. Since then, expectations were that the two countries -- which share a common language -- would develop close ties. That has not happened -- and Iranian President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami is now visiting Tajikistan to try to change the situation.
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
Tajikistan: Concerns Grow Over Media Freedom
Three Tajik newspapers have been missing from newsstands since authorities last week closed down the only printing house that agreed to publish them. Western embassies in Dushanbe reacted by expressing concern about media freedoms in Tajikistan. Local and international media watchdogs went one step further, denouncing what they call attempts by Tajik officials to silence the independent press ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.
August 20, 2004
Tajikistan: Traders Look to China For Brighter Fortunes
For landlocked Central Asia, transport infrastructures and regional cooperation are key conditions to emerging from trade isolation. By opening transport links with neighboring China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have in recent years established themselves as important conduits for Chinese goods sold in Central Asia, where they are in great demand. Tajikistan followed almost three months ago with the opening of a border crossing that had been sealed since Soviet times.
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.
August 10, 2004
Tajikistan: What's The Political Message Behind Drug Czar's Arrest?
The balance of power is shifting in Tajikistan. The latest sign comes in the recent detention and impending arrest of Tajik counternarcotics chief Gaffor Mirzoev -- a powerful official from the country's Kulyab area, a source of strong government support during the 1992-97 civil war. There are many in Kulyab and elsewhere who are wondering what effect Mirzoev's sacking will have.