Foreign relations

Russia

Kyrgyzstan has been one of the post-Soviet states willing to cooperate closely with Russia on economic and security issues. Together with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, it was a founding member of the Union of the Four, the precursor of the Eurasian Economic Community created in 2000. Kyrgyzstan gave Russia a substantial share in its industry in exchange for debt relief.

Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service has been dependent on international and bilateral donors to sponsor its training and equipment. In 1999 and 2000, Kyrygz border guard clashed with armed Uzbek Islamists that had crossed over into Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan on their way to Uzbekistan from Afghanistan. This incident left the Kyrgyz feeling particularly vulnerable to cross-border incursions.

In 2007 Parliamentary Speaker, Marat Sultanov raised the issue of bringing Russian border guards back Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz government claimed that Kyrgyzstan's military budget was too small to pay personnel to protect the southern borders, which are also the borders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia withdrew its border guard from Kyrgyzstan in 1999. In 2010, Russia agreed to station 40 Russian border guards in Osh to assist Kyrgyz authorities in preventing illegal migration, human trafficking, extremism, and terrorism along part of its border with Uzbekistan. Another 20 other Russian border guards are stationed in the northern region of Chui, not far from Bishkek.

Russia was allowed to establish an airbase at Kant, near Bishkek, in 2003. Russia reportedly maintains three squadrons of ground attack and fighter aircraft, as well as transport, helicopter, and training aircraft, at Kant. In addition, Russia maintains a torpedo testing facility on Lake Issyk-Kul, a communications facility at Chaldovar, and a seismic station at Mailuu-Suu.

President Atambayev expressed unhappiness with the Russian bases in early 2012, and complained about Russian non-payment of rent and failure to provide promised training.

In September 2012 Russia agreed to assist Kyrgyzstan with the long-stalled Kambarata-1 hydroelectric dam project and to write off two-fifths of Kyrgyzstan’s roughly $500 million debt. In return, Bishkek promised Moscow a 15-year extension on its military facilities in the country after the current lease expires in 2017.

President Almazbek confirmed in April 2013 that Kyrgyzstan planned to join the Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus Customs Union.  Prime Minister Satybaldiev had earlier told Russian officials of Bishkek's political decision to join.  Kyrgyzstan authorities focus on the beneficial effect of the lowering of customs duties on products from and to these countries.  on the other hand, membership could lead to a sharp rise in domestic prices as they are affected by the price structures in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as establishment of a customs barrier with increasingly important trading partner China.

 

June 2010 riots an internal matter

Russia turned down Kyrgyzstan’s request for peacekeepers during the June 2010 ethnic rioting in the south of the country, suggesting that this was an internal conflict which it could not help to resolve.

Military relations with other states
Russian pilots disembark from a Su-27 fighter jet at Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan.The Russian planes are testing facilities at the base for the eventual deployment of a rapid-reaction force. 5 December 2002 (© AP/Wide World Photo/Burt Herman)

Russian pilots disembark from a Su-27 fighter jet at Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan.The Russian planes are testing facilities at the base for the eventual deployment of a rapid-reaction force. 5 December 2002 (© AP/Wide World Photo/Burt Herman)

Kyrgyzstan has balanced its relationship with Russia through military cooperation with the U.S. and China.

The U.S. has been allowed to use Bishkek’s Manas International Airpor to support its forces in Afghanistan. During the last year of Bakiev’s rule, there was much uncertainty whether the U.S would be allowed to continue to use the facility. There were allegations of corruption in granting contracts to supply fuel to the base. Atambayev said in 2011 that he wanted to close the base when its lease runs out in 2014. Still, Kyrgyzstan Defense Secretary Tobaldiyev told visiting U.S. Central Command Commander Mattis that Bishkek was prepared to let the U.S. use Manas beyond 2014, apparently in return for greater military assistance and training.  Nonetheless, Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted overwhelmingly in June 2013 to end the leasing agreement with the U.S. on Manas in 2014.  The bill will come into force when signed by Atambayev.

Kyrgyzstan and China concluded an agreement on their borders in 2001. The two states have held joint military exercises, usually within the context of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Relations with central Asian neighbors strained
Uzbekistan

Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have disputes over borders, the supply of gas from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan, and the flow of water from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.

Bakiev sought common ground with Uzbekistan in the area of security. Kyrgyzstan has at times arrested and extradited suspects wanted in Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan’s willingness to give asylum to Uzbeks fleeing their country after the 2005 Andijon events and to allow the UN to fly them out to a third country, rather than return them to Uzbekistan, complicated their relationship. In response, Uzbekistan temporarily cut off gas supplies to northern Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan agreed to supply gas to Kyrgyzstan instead.

Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan agreed in 2009 to restart an intergovernmental commission on the delimitation and demarcation of their border. The two countries recognize about 900 kilometers (560 miles) of their joint border, but some 600 kilometers (372 miles) remain in dispute.

In 2012. a Kyrgyz border guard officer was killed and two Kyrgyz citizens injured when Uzbek and Kyrgyz border guards exchanged gunfire at an undemarcated border area. The incident was sparked by road works that residents of Kyrgyzstan’s Bulak Bashi village began in the border area despite warnings from Kyrgyz border guards. Uzbek border guards, who arrived at the area demanded that road works be stopped immediately.

Also in 2012, Kyrgyz parliamentarians discussed the disputed status of Kyrgyzstan’s Severniy Sokh and Chongara-Galcha enclaves in the southern Batken province. The two enclaves hold recoverable gas and oil reserves as well as subterranean gas storage facilities. Ownership of the enclaves has been under dispute since the 1950s, but Soviet-era authorities largely left resolution of the issue up to the two countries. Because the enclaves are located on Kyrgyz territory, the Kyrgyz government argues they de jure belong to Kyrgyzstan, while Uzbek authorities insist they belong to Uzbekistan, which has developed oil and gas fields in the enclaves for years. From Kyrgyzstan's perspective, it is time to return the leased territories to Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz parliamentarians urged the government to begin using the gas storage in Severniy Sokh.

Another border incident between Kyrgyz and Uzbek border guards in Aksay district of Jalabad province in July 2013 left two Uzbeks dead.

Tajikistan

The Tajik-Kyrgyz border is in dispute.  There are disagreements over some 80 segments, with the Joint Commission tasked with delineating the border deadlocked on more than half the disputed areas. 

Ethnic tensions are high along the border areas and enclaves.Violent incidents took place most recently between Tajikhs and Kyrgyz in villages along their borders in the Ferghana Valley in April and May 2013. Hundreds were involved, casualties occurred and numerous vehicles were damaged.

OSCE
Participants at a workshop on developing requirements for training modules on the ethics of governmental officials, organized by the OSCE Centre in Bishkek in co-operation with the NGO Institute of Human Engineering. Professors of higher educational institutions and those involved in developing state employees took part in the discussion. An expert from Estonia shared international standards and practices. Bishkek, 6 July 2012.

Participants at a workshop on developing requirements for training modules on the ethics of governmental officials, organized by the OSCE Centre in Bishkek in co-operation with the NGO Institute of Human Engineering. Professors of higher educational institutions and those involved in developing state employees took part in the discussion. An expert from Estonia shared international standards and practices. Bishkek, 6 July 2012.(OSCE/Svetlana Levina)

OSCE Centre in Bishkek (OSCE)

OSCE Centre in Bishkek (OSCE)

The OSCE Centre in Bishkek opened in 1999 to promote OSCE principles and commitments, and regional cooperation.

The Centre also holds seminars and training courses dealing with border security, the rule of law, good governance, and legislation. The Centre has a field office in Osh, as well a local staff members in each region of Kyrgyzstan. 

In addition, the OSCE opened an OSCE Academy in Bishkek as a regional educational and research institution at the end of 2002.

OSCE Academy in Bishkek (OSCE)

OSCE Academy in Bishkek (OSCE)

OSCE CiO visits in 2013

OSCE Chairs-in-Office traditionally make at least one swing through central Asia every year.  Ukrainian Foreign Minister and CiO Kozhara visited the five countries of central Asia in October 2013, meeting with presidents, ministers, parliamentarians, civil society, and OSCE field missions.  Kozhara focused on regional security and OSCE engagement with central Asia.