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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2003 > June

Kyrgyzstan: OSCE Center in Bishkek

Douglas Davidson, Deputy Chief of U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria
June 5, 2003

Released by the U.S. Mission to the OSCE

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by warmly welcoming Ambassador Idil [Head of OSCE Center, Bishkek] to the Permanent Council and thanking him for his comprehensive report. We are pleased with the work of the Center in what clearly has been an active reporting period.

Both the Center and the Kyrgyz authorities are focusing on important fundamental reforms. We support this approach; societies must have solid institutional foundations. After all, if the right framework is in place, a society can withstand almost any shock.

In this respect, we welcome the Government of Kyrgyzstan's initiative to establish a special council to address good governance, and we encourage close collaboration on this project with the OSCE Center in Bishkek. The many facets of what we commonly refer to as good governance, including peace and security, personal safety, conditions conducive to business development, transparency and public participation, provision of basic needs, and elimination of corruption, are the pillars of a stable and prosperous society.

Mr. Chairman, we look forward to the planned full operation of the independent printing press in September, and trust it will contribute to openness and widespread access to information. In the meantime, we encourage the Government of Kyrgyzstan to ensure that independent media already in Kyrgyzstan can operate freely.

We are concerned about reports that independent newspapers are becoming prohibitively expensive because of vague threats to advertisers that they will encounter problems if they advertise in these newspapers. This type of unofficial barrier to a fully free and independent media must be removed.

As Kyrgyz authorities work to develop a better legal and procedural framework, we hope that the OSCE Center will redouble its efforts to make this framework known and familiar to all elements of society. Drafting laws is often easy, but implementing them can sometimes be difficult. The best framework will lose its effectiveness if citizens and the government do not fully understand their rights and responsibilities.

We believe that the greatest danger to the reform effort now underway in Kyrgyzstan is that good intentions will be undermined by improper application of new laws and practices. And in this light, we recall the Kyrgyz Government's expressed willingness to address the shortcomings of the recently approved Constitutional referendum. We urge the government to reach out to Kyrgyz civil society and the Council of Europe to reestablish the goodwill that existed early on in the referendum process.

We welcome the creation of a human rights Ombudsman, and we welcome Kyrgyz efforts towards comprehensive prison reform. At the same time however, we note our concern about the recent decision overturning the convictions of the police for the killings in Asky last year. An essential part of democracy is accountability, and we call on the government to pursue justice in the tragic events of last March.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me say that the United States is very encouraged by the Center's activities and by its close and cooperative working relationship with Kyrgyz authorities. We hope this partnership can be intensified so that good work undertaken on both sides is fully supported and fully understood by all members of society. Thank you.

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