Political Leadership for Democratic Transition in Kyrgyzstan

The project is designed to support Kyrgyzstan in achieving a successful transition from an authoritarian state to a parliamentary democracy with peaceful inter-ethnic relations. This support is critically needed in Kyrgyzstan, which is still recovering from last year’s inter-ethnic violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in the south of the country  and is going through a difficult phase of democratic transition. During the mission, the delegation was received by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Roza Otunbaeva and held meetings with Prime Minister, Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament), political parties in and outside the Jogorku Kenesh and other key stakeholders. Tmission members shared lessons from their own political experiences topical to issues Kyrgyzstan strives to address. The Club de Madrid also introduced ideas and principles from the Shared Societies project to interlocutors in Kyrgyzstan. This Club de Madrid initiative is designed to bring social cohesion and build societies that are safe for difference.

During a meeting with President Otunbaeva, the current political situation in the country, reconstruction of southern Kyrgyzstan after last year’s inter-ethnic clashes, as well as the oncoming presidential elections were discussed. The President underlined the importance of reforming civil service and the judiciary, and welcomed the Club de Madrid’s expertise in these areas. Speaking of a three-party coalition government, President Otunbayeva noted that  ”the rules of a parliamentary form of government are largely unknown to everyone, which hampers the capacity of the government to function effectively”.  The President also mentioned critical moments in the coalition’s short history and her mediating role in forging compromise in order to save the coalition government from collapsing.  

Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev underscored the importance of solving Kyrgzystan’s economic problems to ensure political stability; develop policies that would foster foreign investment and create a climate conducive for private enterprise development. The Prime Minister emphasized the role of stable economy in the greater post-conflict stabilization process. He also stressed the necessity of a national reform to address growing ethnic nationalism, stating that “nationalism is the main enemy of Kyrgyzstan”.  Club de Madrid member Petre Roman shared his experience in introducing and implementing minority rights reforms in Romania in the 1990s responding to the inter-ethnic incidents between a group of ethnic Romanians and Hungarians.

Over the course of the 12-months project the Club de Madrid will continue to work towards supporting Kyrgyzstan in establishing a well-functioning parliamentary democracy with  stable inter-ethnic relations.