: / Central Asia and CIS

Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[19.05.23] Change in Top Elite Will Favor Reforms in the Country

The top echelons of power are mainly represented by former Communist Party apparatchiks, Kyrgyz newspaper Vecherniy Bishkek has said. It quoted a Kyrgyz expert saying that the country's legislation aimed at developing market relations has been adapted to the interests of the those apparatchiks. The newspaper added that NATO was closely watching changes in the top elite and that in 2005 people favouring closer relation with CIS countries might reach a political Olympus. It said that the young generation, which was gradually taking over and have a new way of thinking, would improve the economic situation in the country. The following is the text of the report entitled "Power and evolution hand in hand" by Daniyar Karimov on the Kyrgyz newspaper Vecherniy Bishkek web site on 12 May; original subheadings retained NATO experts are closely watching changes within the political elite in the southern countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] and, in particular, in Kyrgyzstan. Political scientists in Europe think that the country is on the threshold of big changes.
The Central Asian crisis management, working group under NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, has recently had a meeting in Vienna.
Brussels was interested in our analysts' opinions about the situation in the country and the future development of events. At present virtually all CIS countries are preparing for changes in the top echelons of power.
Apparatchiks, step aside Incidentally, in Kyrgyzstan they began to speak about future changes of the elite about half a year ago. Some people are confident that we are expecting aggravation of the political situation. Others talk about a "velvet" scenario of future changes. Somehow or other, all these talks in the corridors are not groundless. In two years' time, the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be launched. And, judging by all this, distribution at this stage worries NATO most of all.
Moreover, some local political scientists are predicting that in 2005, people, giving preference to developing closer relations with CIS countries, and primarily with Russia, will reach [political] Olympus.
The current establishment is mainly represented by former Communist Party apparatchiks. Many Kyrgyz chroniclers are sure that it is them who are impeding economic reforms.
"A paradoxical situation has emerged. Legislation aimed at the development of market relations is "adapted" to the interests of former Communist Party apparatchiks. Which means one thing - the direct dependence of businesses on the old habits of bureaucrats, mainly yesterday's successors of communism. And it can't just fail to evoke the protest of entrepreneurs. Incidentally, a similar situation is observed in other CIS states, too," an expert of Central Asian crisis anagement
working group, Col Toktogul Kakachekeyev [name transliterated] says.
Welcome, young generation
The colonel said that now business circles were also getting ready for the forthcoming 2005 parliamentary elections.
Some of members of the new wave are already represented in power. An MP of the [Kyrgyz] parliament's Legislative Assembly, Zayniddin Kurmanov; the chairman of the board of the [Kyrgyz] National Bank, Ulan Sarbanov; the minister of finance, Bolot Abildayev; the minister of foreign trade and industry, Sadriddin Dzhiyenbekov; the chairman of the State Committee for the Management of State Property and Attraction of Direct Investment, Ravshan Dzheyenbekov, are among them. There are another dozen of specialists who studied in Russia and in the West and grasped the science of new market relations in Kyrgyz higher educational institutions.
So, replacement of the elite is obvious. In many respects thanks to [Kyrgyz] President Askar Akayev, who started staff reforms, attracting young reformers to power. And they justified the president's expectations. Analysts say that rapprochement with CIS countries under the Eurasian Economic Community [EAEC] is at the merit of the new team.
"They can even enter the world economy. After all, our country has a lot of unrealized potential to develop markets, for instance, membership in the World Trade organization," Col Kakchekeyev asserts.
Radical rivals
None of the analysts presume an exact date when a new group of state officials, free from former Communist Party apparatchiks, will be formed. Presumably, it is 2005.
If so, the new elite of the young intelligentsia and businessmen will have to overcome another serious obstacle - marginalization of the Kyrgyz establishment. During the first years of independence, the body of civil servants was nationalized plus to all other things. State officials themselves admit it during unofficial conversations. It brought many people from remote villages who put clan ties first. After all, the priority was possessing impeccable knowledge of the state language. Attempts by the leadership to stop this not very civilized process of tribalism, by making Russian the second official language, was met by "misunderstanding" from MPs of the Legislative Assembly for a long time. As a result, we ended up with an administrative apparatus divided into groups of congeners. And a "tribal congress" hardly wants to easily give up its position.
But new blood is hotter. And the new political elite has a strong grasp.
The generation of the 1970s is ready to replace the old residents of Soviet times. Not just to hold the position of boss. People of a fundamentally new type want to see the country as a prospering state.
They are sure that they are capable of carrying out progressive reforms which will soon bear fruit. They are far removed from all these wearisome clan and tribal mechanisms of "management". The main thing is that, despite their young age, they already have rich entrepreneurial and managerial experience. They have the strongest intellect and patriotism that has proven itself over years, in addition to this Eurasian way of thinking. And this is already a power.
Eurasianet/Vechernyi Bishkek, May 19, 2003

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