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28th May 2022

EU links support for new Kyrgyz government to democracy

  • Ensuring public order and rule of law is 'most important' says Catherine Ashton (Photo: Travlr)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday (20 April) linked financial and political support for the new Kyrgyz government to its commitment to democracy and human rights, asking for investigations into the killings and violence following the departure of the former president.

"If we are satisfied that the provisional government is committed to a quick return to legitimacy and genuinely wants to join the democratic family, the European Union will be ready to provide the necessary political, financial and technical support," Ms Ashton told MEPs in Strasbourg.

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Restoring public order and putting an end to deadly clashes was a priority, she said, as well as seeking justice after more than 80 people were shot and killed earlier this month, when former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted.

The provisional government led by foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva has not yet been recognised by the EU, while Mr Bakiyev has fled to Belarus in order to avoid prosecution.

Ms Ashton said she was encouraged by early signs of democratic commitment from Ms Otunbayeva's team, including pledges to hold early elections and change the current constitution.

"The provisional government needs to commit to a clear plan for how to return to constitutional and democratic order and the rule of law," the British peer said.

EU foreign ministers due to meet next Monday in Luxembourg will discuss the potential assistance that could be offered to Kyrgyzstan, she added.

"A strong and credible plan for an early return to legitimate government in Kyrgyzstan will allow the EU to re-engage and offer sorely needed support."

Meanwhile, ethnic clashes on the outskirts of Kyrgyz capital Bishkek claimed another five lives earlier this week, with Kyrgyz crowds burning and looting Turkish homes, Reuters reports.

The attacks, sparked by a local land ownership row, have raised the spectre of more ethnic violence in the predominantly Muslim nation. Ethnic Kyrgyz make up 70 percent of the country's 5.3 million population, with eight percent Russians. Turks, Uzbeks and other minorities comprise the rest.

Locals have accused the interim government, which came in after Bakiyev's overthrow, of losing control over the security situation, saying that armed gangs are looting with impunity.

Human rights groups have also called on the new government to get a grip on the country's law and order and investigate those responsible for crimes.

"The interim government has said that it would like to see an international investigation of the events, but it has yet to make a formal request to any particular institution. The longer the government waits before it makes an official request for international assistance, the more difficult it will be to reconstruct accurately the events that caused the violence, and secure necessary forensic evidence," Human Rights Watch said.

EU officials foresee no further violence in Kyrgyzstan

"Policemen are patrolling but they are in civilian clothes. They are observing the situation, but trying not to provoke any violence," a contact at the EU delegation in Bishkek, Kyrgyztsan, told EUobserver on Thursday morning after the opposition took control of the country amid deadly clashes.

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