20 november 2017

Central Asia news

Kyrgyzstan Parliament rejects $100 million in aid from Kazakhstan

10.11.2017 23:53 msk

Ferghana


Parliament of Kyrgyzstan
In its third and final reading, the Jogorku Kenesh (parliament) of Kyrgyzstan, on 9 November, adopted a bill denunciating an agreement with Kazakhstan, according to which Bishkek should receive US$100 million in aid under the framework of Eurasian integration, 24.kg news agency reports.

One hundred and five members of Parliament supported the bill, while the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Altynai Omurbekova, voted against it.

Arkady Dubnov, political scientist and expert on Central Asia, who had earlier assumed that the Kyrgyz parliament would delay considering the bill before the president incumbent, Almazbek Atambayev, leaves his post on 1 December (the inauguration of the President elect, Jeenbekov, will take place on 24 November), admitted that he underestimated the "level of professional dilettantism and political irresponsibility" with which the Jogorku Kenesh took issue.

"I have to admit that I was wrong when I predicted that the denunciation would be wrapped up. I thought that common sense would not allow parliamentarians to succumb to pressure of the incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev, and they will defend the real interests of the country, which require the complete arrangement of customs and sanitary borders with Kazakhstan: these measures are necessary to fulfil Bishkek's commitments to enter the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). And since we do not see traces of any serious discussion in the parliament on this issue, now is the time to expect that Bishkek will go further and raise the issue of leaving the country from the Eurasian Union. What is called, ‘saying and doing are two things,’ in our case—do not do.”

“It seems symptomatic that the MPs could not find a better time to take this decision than a few hours before a meeting in Chelyabinsk (Russia) of the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan, the leaders of the EEU. Most likely, the political inadequacy of the official Bishkek will be one of the topics on the agenda of this meeting. I believe that now nothing will prevent the political and commercial clans of Kyrgyzstan from receiving full dividends, returning the country to a time when all of its economy began and ended in the Dordoi market," Dubnov told Ferghana News.

Presenting a draft bill before the parliament committee, Deputy Prime Minister Duishenbek Zilaliev said, "We decided to say no to these means. We no longer need them. We will look for funding sources from the budget or outside it.”

According to Kaktus.Media, Zilaliev also recalled that a decade ago, Kyrgyzstan had signed an agreement to create a Kyrgyz-Kazakh investment fund, with a charter capital of $120 million ($100 million by Kazakhstan, $20 million by Kyrgyzstan). But it has not started its work until now, so Bishkek had to independently seek funds for the construction of four new zonal and capital repairs of 12 district laboratories. Zilaliyev also promised to complete all these works by the end of the year.

The Kyrgyz government had directed a draft bill to the Kyrgyz parliament to denounce the agreement with Kazakhstan on 20 October. The parties signed the agreement in 2016. The assistance the accord provides intends to improve the customs infrastructure of Kyrgyzstan, as well as bring the veterinary and phytosanitary systems of the republic in line with the standards of the EEC. The first tranche of assistance, equivalent to $41 million, was due last week.

On 7 October, President Atambayev during his speech at a ceremony to present state awards, accused the Kazakh authorities of "imposing their candidate" during the last presidential election in Kyrgyzstan. In response to these attacks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of the country, Bakytzhan Sagintayev, made statements in which they called Atambayev's statements "provocative" and "unacceptable." Later, Kazakhstan refused to send its observers for elections in the neighbouring republic.

The Ministry of Economy of Kyrgyzstan also complained to the Eurasian Economic Commission (ECE) and the secretariat of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about Kazakhstan strengthening its control over the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border.

On 18 October, the prime ministers of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan met and discussed the situation, which resulted in Kazakhstan agreeing to allow individuals, passenger buses, cars and empty cargo trucks to pass the border from Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan. At the same time, it is still unknown as to when cargo trucks loaded with Kyrgyz produced goods would be able to move into the territory of EEU via Kazakhstan in the future.

Fergana News Agency