Kyrgyzia was the first CIS country to enter WTO. The organization itself run no risks at that: Kyrgyzia’s presence in WTO is hardly noticeable. The country itself has not profited from the membership in WTO. Even with most favorable quotas, its goods will hardly enter the international market because of low quality.
It was evident from the very beginning that Kyrgyzia was allowed to the world market because of political expedience, not economic success. State of Kyrgyzia’s production sphere and competitiveness of its goods leave much to be desired; foreign debt of Bishkek exceeds the gross domestic product and corruption level is rather high. All these conditions would hardly made for the country’s entry into WTO. That is why the action is a part of political management.
Preschedule entry into WTO brought additional problems to relations of Kyrgyzia with the neighbors and partners. Some of them consider the membership in WTO as an intention to demonstrate democracy and striving for being ahead of the rest. Such actions are not welcomed in the East, especially concerning such small and not mighty enough countries as Kyrgyzia.
For example, China with its economy being several times stronger than that of Kyrgyzia, entered WTO this year only. And Russia is still not a WTO member. We already know about Uzbekistan’s wish to enter the international organization. According to some sources, this became one of the terms for co-operation with the USA in the anti-Taliban operation.
Experts remember the time when Tashkent’s authorities (Uzbekistan) accused Bishkek (Kyrgyzia) of entering WTO against regulations of the CIS Customs Union. Reaction of Kazakhstan to it was strict: duties for import and transit of Kyrgyzia’s goods were doubled. In a word, the neighbors imposed an economic embargo on Bishkek.
The neighboring countries also disliked another Bishkek’s initiative concerning receiving Afghan refugees. Now Kyrgyzia is not only the center of poor quality goods, but probably a shelter for Afghan militants under the guise of refugees. Because of it the neighboring territory was declared potentially dangerous and taken under strict control. Check-up on the borders has been toughened, all arrangements on free movement of goods, citizens and capitals are being constantly violated. Some of the measures mentioned can be considered as justified. Despite all statements of Tajikistan’s frontier services, the borders with Kyrgyzia are still transparent. The borders can not be completely closed because of peculiar relief. It is clear why Astana and Tashkent are apprehensive of Kyrgyzia’s becoming a transit corridor for thousands of refugees and militant troops. Bishkek thinks that all the problems mentioned can be effectively settled by joint efforts, not blocking of borders between former friends.
Thus, the main point of the conflicts reveals that Kyrgyzia tries to adopt its own policy, sovereign and independent from the neighbors. But for the entry into WTO and receiving Afghan refugees, Kyrgyzia would have avoided such problem relations with the neighbors. Such policy would certainly differ from that one carried out by Kyrgyzia’s President Askar Akayev now.
Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzia
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/18/34896.html