Giving the US State Department Award to the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has become a real time bomb. It would seem that nothing terrible has happened. But the news about the award was the trigger. It all ended in scandal - Kyrgyzstan's government denounced the agreement with the USA on cooperation of 1993. Almost all the projects implemented in the country at the expense of American money turned out to be under threat.
24.kg news agency asked whether the game is worth the candle?
Kairat Osmonoliev, the Doctor of Law:
-Denunciation of the agreement - is one of the most extreme steps in international relations. I believe that it is inappropriate move. It is not specified by any serious basis. It is no big deal that they awarded our citizen. That's their problem. We have expressed the position that this is unreasonable and puzzling. In world practice, agreement is denounced if the government is preparing for war or complete rupture of diplomatic relations. Denunciation of the agreement - ill-conceived move that will have far-reaching consequences. Usually denunciation shows a complete break of diplomatic relations. And we mustn't do it under any circumstances. We had to stay at note of protest of the Foreign Ministry regarding the awarding of Azimzhan Askarov the Prize of the State Department.
Let's see where the allocated money goes. After all, educational projects for pupils, students and civil servants were implemented at the expense of the United States. Over the years of cooperation a lot was done. And it is incorrect to stop all this under the influence of emotions. In the international arena as a result we can get the status of an immature state. We behave like teenagers in puberty, when character isn't formed yet. Such behavior is unacceptable for solid state with its won opinion, which is not dancing to the tune of another player. We have more to gain from cooperation than showing how practical we are. Everybody knows who is behind it all. In this case, I wouldn't want us to look like a toy in someone's hands by taking this step.
Zamira Sydykova, the former Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic in the United States:
-It all sounds funny that Kyrgyzstan broke off relations with the United States. Of course, this is not an independent decision of the Prime Minister Temir Sariev. Decision was preceded by consultation with Russia. In addition, we do hereby worse for ourselves, because there won't be any consequences for the other side, the US.
Imagine tens of thousands of our citizens, who have worked for the US program (we speak about employees of programs themselves and subcontractors, who supplied equipment, built objects, someone purchased products, those who served the programs), they will be the first who suffer from this decision of the government. Against the backdrop of our unemployment and lack of programs on creation of jobs there will appear quite active and educated young people, who will not be able to realize themselves here. In addition, implementation of training and educational programs will fail as well. If you look at technical part, that is, there are taxes that come from implementation of the programs, then Kyrgyzstan will not earn much. It is not the amount of taxes that could significantly affect the budget.
Of course, denunciation of the agreement with the United States - is a political decision. In political terms, rupture of the agreement is more important than denunciation of the agreement on Manas Transit Center. In fact, we rejected the assistance provided by people of the United States at no cost. This move doesn't grace the country in the global space. We have nothing special to boast of, but now we show ourselves as wild, ignorant and narrow-minded people. The government of Temir Sariev put all the Kyrgyz people in a very ugly situation.
Kanatbek Murzakhalilov, expert:
-Azimzhan Askarov was found guilty of incriminated criminal case in accordance with the decisions of all three courts, including the Supreme Court, which decision is final and not subject to appeal. As people say, the law is harsh, but it's the law. The State Department decided to award, at its discretion, unilaterally, without respecting the laws of sovereign Kyrgyzstan. Our republic wins absolutely nothing from rupture of relations with the United States, but on contrary, in political, economic plan we may suffer huge losses. All financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in one way or another are connected with the United States.
Many global political solutions are also taken under their orders. Using its influence on NATO and the European Union, the United States can easily enter any sanctions against our country, to destabilize the situation on the eve of parliamentary elections or joining the Eurasian Economic Union. Scenario in this perspective is extremely undesirable for us.
Chinara Esengul, political scientist:
-Giving the US State Department Award to Azimzhan Askarov - unexpected step for us. Therefore, denunciation of the agreement of 1993 has become a symmetrical response from the government on the events. Now we are waiting for the US response. We can not say how deliberate a move of the Cabinet was. After all, we did not know that exactly Azimzhan Askarov will be awarded. We have a lot of human rights defenders, who are also worthy of this award. The judiciary is one of three branches of government, as a manifestation of our statehood, recognized Azimzhan Askarov guilty of inciting ethnic hatred and complicity in murder of a police officer. Therefore, this rewarding was, in some way, perceived as a provocation. But in any case we could not leave unanswered the awarding of Azimzhan Askarov. It hard to say who is to blame, who is thought out, conducted. I think the US side still initiated. US could choose another candidatein this difficult for the KR year of elections and not to provoke the situation. But, on the other hand, one can not talk that our government responded too asymmetrically. In any case, the extent of consequences of our steps will now be determined by the American government.
The consequences of denunciation of the agreement, of course, will not be very good. United States - a large country, a good donor, an influential partner. Therefore, damage of relations with them will lead to serious consequences. I believe the government knew what it did and it was ready for it. This agreement is about two points on the privileges for different projects that the US implements. I think the United States will think for further escalation of the situation and winding up projects or it will realize that the award was premature. If USAID phases out its activities in the Kyrgyz Republic, American opponents, i.e. Russia and China, will benefit from it. It will be less support for our civil society, less opportunity to develop our parliamentary democracy in general. Authoritarian states will benefit from it. Of course, civil society will suffer.
Sheradil Baktygulov, a political scientist:
-Denunciation of the agreement with the United States - is quite correct response to the fact of giving the State Department Award to Azimzhan Askarov. The denunciation of the agreement does not mean severance of diplomatic relations. It only cancels the special relationship of friendship. Many consider the fact of awarding the prize to Azimzhan Askarov as an attempt, a warning about possible impact on situation in the country. This award is appointed on proposal. Probably the proposal was from the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic. Also the appointment of Richard Miles Charge d'Affaires in Kyrgyzstan should be treated with suspicion. If we have a look at warning shouts of the West on the draft law on foreign agents, a draft law banning gay propaganda, in principle, we have quite disturbing puzzle for Kyrgyzstan.
The United States controls the Asian Development Bank. It is the largest holder of its shares. The same applies to the World Bank. There are the opinions that the decision of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on denunciation of the agreement with the US could affect our country's cooperation with these financial institutions. But if you look at help that was provided, the picture is quite different. The Americans say that for 20 years it provided for more than $1 billion. But at the same time the structure of this help isn't disclosed. But the assistance provided, is mostly implemented through a network of logistics companies that keep at least 60 percent of the money as production costs and operating expenses. Thus, we do not know how much of this amount really comes to Kyrgyzstan. If we look at investment, the United States is not in the top seven of investments in the Kyrgyz Republic. The lion's share of the assistance provided, falls on support of non-profit organizations and various projects.
Kalicha Umuralieva, head of Our Right Public Association:
-I do not understand this decision and do not welcome it. Azimzhan Askarov was awarded as a human rights activist. He worked in this sphere till the events of 2010. He has this status now. The UN has a Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. Of course, people who defend the rights of people, that involves fight against corruption, criticism of authorities are persecuted in all countries. Therefore, they are supported by the UN and other human rights institutions. Therefore, I do not understand the hysteria around it. Awarding Askarov - is one thing, but assistance to the country - another.
You do not want assistance - refuse, don't take it. But why do you need hysteria? Now let's see what we have done with the help of USAID money. In Asanbay soccer fields were built. This is good or bad? Many government agencies have received technical assistance in the form of computers, machinery, etc. This is bad? This agreement says only that benefits will be provided while assisting. That's all. The USAID has a logo "From the American people." So against what we stand? Against help of the American people? We do not like the American people? Then who do we like? We do not like the policy of the American government? So report it. What's not to like? Where? For what reasons? And if the UN awards a human rights activist, then Kyrgyzstan will denounce all covenants and conventions of the United Nations? I do not understand such a foreign policy. And it's very sad. We have to be more flexible and smarter in diplomacy. If you want a divorce, then say, "I'm leaving you, dear. I do not want to be with you, I don't need anything from you. I return to you all that you spent on me over the years."
Nurbek Toktakunov, lawyer:
-Well, the Kyrgyz story continues, if there is a life - there is hope. But there is a question of how legitimate the denunciation is? What is the legitimacy of government decisions? This is when it is taken in accordance with the procedure and with the support of society. No one denies that the agreement was a matter of national significance, and, therefore, required public debate. The Prime Minister did not take into account this fact. Kyrgyz bais have certain contempt for public opinion.
Dinara Oshurakhunova, the Chairwoman of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society:
- Denunciation of the agreement caused a great reaction in society. If this is essential, then why not to initiate denunciation of the agreements with the countries that have sheltered runaway presidents. This is more noticeable for the country and its citizens than awarding of a citizen in another country. Another question - since when our country doesn't welcome awarding citizens in other countries? Did representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the government are really not aware of the state of corruption in courts and law enforcement agencies? Do they believe that justice was applied in respect of Azimzhan Askarov?
All know that law enforcement officials apply tortures of Azimzhan Askarov and anyone who falls into their hands. Everybody knows about the state of judiciary and law enforcement system in Kyrgyzstan - the President and deputies talk about it at the highest level, as well as the latest polls show a distrust of the justice system on the part of citizens. And this distrust remains. Award of unjustly accused human rights defenders - is a worldwide practice.