Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Political Economy of Kyrgyzstan's Domestic (in) Stability

Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Political Economy of Kyrgyzstan's Domestic (in) Stability

Article excerpt


The world of international relations is getting increasingly defined by renewed competition for material and natural resources. The world population, and the economic output are growing, while the reserves of oil, gas, fresh water, arable land, potash, timber, fish, etc. are diminishing. Countries with significant natural resources would do well in coming years if they build state capacities, protect their natural resources, and use them judiciously for their national growth and development. Such counties have to create institutions of economic stewardship or management to provide for their own survival, and basic standards of living for their population.

Kyrgyz Republic, a post-Soviet Central Asian state, is an example of misguided policies and lost opportunities during the last two decades. The country has experienced sets of violent uprisings, especially in 2005 and 2010, and still many other times during the last two decades. Consequently, it has been hailed as a laboratory for tests of democratization and liberalization of its economic system.

The Spring-Summer 2010 Kyrgyz crisis, which saw the government of Kurmanbek Bakiyev overthrown in April and thousands of Uzbeks massacred in June was, in fact, the second instalment in mass violent protests that commenced before 5 years from now. The 24 March, 2005 Tulip Revolution was triggered by the most pressing problems that Kyrgyzstan developed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2005, the Akayev administration was wound up through a popular uprising, emanating from socio-economic hardships and political oppression. The post-2005 Kyrgyz leadership ledby President Bakiyev, inherited a crisis-ridden economic order which fuelled violent outbursts in the country's history. The Kyrgyz economy did improve under the Bakiyev administration, as it is vindicated by the available data. However, such improvement and progress was actually the offshoot of rapidly rising gold pricesinthe world markets. Obviously, such an improvement can be attributed to the Kumtor gold mining project, a Kyrgyz-Canadian joint venture, rather than to any significant countrywide progress in terms of socio-economic or human resource development. Wealth generated by a mining enterprise did not benefit majority of country's population to any significant degree, and once again in 2010, the Kyrgyz Republic went through a violent change of leadership, followed by the largest inter-ethnic violence in recent memory.

Kyrgyzstan's stability and future survival does not solely depend on policies of the leadership. As a small and landlocked country, it also depends upon cooperation with its neighbourhood: the Russian Federation, China, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. The country's relationship with powerful international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) has no less significance for its future economic prospects, and political stability. Of these external actors, Uzbekistan has shown relative patience and restraint; China and Kazakhstan good neighbourly policies within its traditional and imperial paradigms and the Russian Federation exploitedKyrgyz troubles to its advantage. However, the most significant damage to the country economic and political profile has been done by the IMF and WTO, and theirmisguided consultancy with no or little regard to the local conditions. These trans-national funding agencies demanded radical reforms in agricultural and industries as a pre-requisite for loan advancement, which later brought the country face to face with unprecedented ethnic clashes inits northern and southern regions, and more dramatically, between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority of the South.

Political volatility and instability is nothing new in Central Asia, but ignoring Kyrgyzstan's variety of intricate problems related to its failing state system, may not auger well for the whole region. Kyrgyzstan's challenges continue to be intensified by economic hardships and deprivation of its population. …

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