The deputies of the European Union are ready to help the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in order to ease its debt burden. However, the help will depend on the course of political and economic reforms. This was said by Antonio Di Pietro, the leader of the EU’s delegation that visited the republic’s capital, Bishkek.
The delegation of the European parliament arrived in Bishkek in order to take part in the third session of the Committee for the parliamentary cooperation Kyrgyzstan – the European Union. The delegation included deputies from Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, France. This visit is the continuation of the implementation of the special partnership agreement between the republic of Kyrgyzstan and the European Union. The agreement came into effect on July 1, 1999. Joint committees have held two sessions since that time – in Bishkek and in Brussels.
The European delegation paid the major attention to economic issues. The economic cooperation with developed countries will allow the Central Asian countries to cope with their severe social problems, with the poverty of their population, first and foremost. According to the deputies of the European parliament, Kyrgyzstan has been conducting rather active work on the amendment of tax and investment policies. Yet, serious political problems prevent from their more efficient realization. As one of the members of the European delegation stated, Europe was seriously concerned about the recent events in the south of Kyrgyzstan (anti-presidential demonstrations).
European delegates also paid a lot of attention to the situation with free mass media. They believe that freedom of speech is a decisive factor as far as the estimation of the political situation is concerned. Officially, free journalists are not subjected to persecution in Kyrgyzstan. However, they constantly suffer from the economic pressure on them. For instance, the government of the republic banned foreign investments in the media development. The ban was then lifted by President Askar Akayev, though.
The President of the republic Askar Akayev pointed out during his meeting with the European delegation that the relations between the republic and the European Union were very helpful. He especially welcomed the EU’s initiative, according to which Europe would double the help to Central Asian countries. It was decided so after the tragic events of September 11. President Akayev stressed out that Europe’s help was of great importance to Kyrgyzstan, since the population’s poverty was one of the basic factors for terrorism and extremism ideas to grow.