Wednesday 1 September 2004
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.
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 12, 2004
Analysis: Russia Coordinates New Broadside Against OSCE
At Moscow's instigation, the six CIS states that are members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan), together with Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, issued a statement in Vienna on 8 July harshly criticizing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and calling for a fundamental refocusing of its priorities and activities.
July 07, 2004
Western Press Review: Kerry Picks A Running Mate, Russia's Central Asia Bid, The Origins Of Terrorism, Serbia's Pro-EU President
Prague, 7 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Much press coverage today is dominated by a discussion of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's choice of a vice-presidential running mate. Kerry announced yesterday that he has chosen Senator John Edwards, a dynamic and personable lawyer from North Carolina, to join him in his bid to win the White House from U.S. President George W. Bush this November. The trial of Saddam Hussein also remains a topic of media interest, as does Russia's response to the rise of NATO influence in Central Asia, the Arab world's efforts to encourage democratic reform, how the first Gulf War paved the way for the age of terrorism, and Serbia's new chance to join Europe, following the election of pro-reform and pro-EU Boris Tadic to the presidency.