In recent months, Kyrgyzstan has experienced violent ethnic clashes as its leaders lay the groundwork for Central Asia’s first genuine parliamentary democracy. In testimony before the Helsinki Commission, Martha Olcott explains what the United States can do in the months ahead to help bring much-needed stability to Kyrgyzstan.

U.S. Policy Recommendations:

  • Police training: The United States should urge the Kyrgyz government to allow an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) police training mission to take up positions in the country’s south, where recent ethnic violence took place.
     
  • Donor coordination: One of Kyrgyzstan’s most pressing challenges is promoting economic growth and improving the standard of living. Significant financial assistance from the United States and other donor countries would help ease the country through the difficult transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
     
  • Election monitoring and certification: The OSCE should closely monitor the scheduled parliamentary elections in October. A free and fair election—as certified by the OSCE—would lend important legitimacy to the incoming government.

It is vital that the government and people of Kyrgyzstan set realistic expectations and recognize that difficult days lie ahead. Without critical help from the international community, Olcott warns, “Kyrgyzstan will continue a downward spiral toward state failure, and put its own population and those in neighboring states at severe risk.”