memorandum by Mr Gross, rapporteur
1. In October 2011, the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic
officially requested to be granted partner for democracy status
with the Parliamentary Assembly. The request was referred to the
Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
was appointed as rapporteur. He conducted two fact-finding visits
to the country (in January and June 2013) and presented a preliminary
draft report in June 2013.
2. In addition, following an exchange of views with a delegation
of the Kyrgyz Parliament in April 2013, the committee constituted
an ad hoc sub-committee to visit the country. The visit took place
in October 2013. I reported back to the committee in December 2013
in my capacity as Chairperson of the ad hoc sub-committee.
3. On 26 December 2013, Mr Çavuşoğlu was appointed Minister of
European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator of the Government of
Turkey, and therefore left the Assembly. I was appointed as rapporteur
on 28 January 2014 with the specific task of finalising the work
on the report within the previously decided time frame. I carried
out a brief visit to the country on 24 and 25 February 2014.
4. Upon assuming my duties, I stated that I valued the work of
the previous rapporteur and broadly shared his analysis, conclusions
and proposals in relation to the request for partner for democracy
status with the Assembly submitted by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz
I am grateful to my predecessor for providing us with a solid
basis for assessing the request of the Kyrgyz Parliament contained
in his preliminary draft report.Note
6. Therefore, instead of re-drafting the detailed report prepared
by Mr Çavuşoğlu following his two visits to Kyrgyzstan as well as
discussions in the committee, I intend to limit myself to summing
up the main findings on the Kyrgyz Parliament’s request for the
status, and to providing, where necessary, updated information on some
specific issues raised by my predecessor and the members of the
For the sake of continuity in our work, I also refer to the
memorandum which I presented on behalf of the Ad hoc Sub-Committee
on Kyrgyzstan following our visit to the country in October 2013.Note
2 Main findings related
to the Kyrgyz Parliament’s request for partner for democracy status
8. The report by the former rapporteur provides basic
information on Kyrgyzstan (Chapter 2), and detailed analysis of
the request submitted by its parliament with regard to its conformity,
in form and substance, with the requirements for granting partner
for democracy status (Chapter 5).
9. I share his view that the official letter from the Speaker
of the Kyrgyz Parliament of 27 October 2011 (see Appendix) broadly
meets the formal conditions set out in the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure
(Rule 61.2, indents 1 to 6).
10. The request for partner for democracy status contains no formal
reference to the statutory obligation to inform the Assembly regularly
on the state of progress in implementing Council of Europe principles
(Rule 61.2, indent 7). However, accountability is an integral part
of the partnership, and the obligation of accountability must be
seen as a direct consequence of the granting of the status. Therefore,
the draft resolution suggests, in accordance with established practice,
that the Assembly should review, within two years at the latest,
the progress achieved in implementing the partnership.
11. On this understanding, I consider that the formal conditions
for granting the status are met.
12. I believe that, in substance too, the Kyrgyz Parliament qualifies
for partner for democracy status. Our contacts with the Kyrgyz parliamentarians
has shown that they are genuinely committed to learning from the experience
of European parliamentary democracies in order to consolidate and
streamline democracy- building in Kyrgyzstan.
13. Kyrgyzstan needs political support for the system of power
based on parliamentary democracy which it adopted under the 2010
Constitution. The parliament is the key actor in the new institutional
system, which is perceived as the best hope to prevent corrupt clan-based
rule. That is why parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan deserves
to be helped, supported and encouraged. Granting partner for democracy
status would certainly contribute to this purpose.
14. I also draw on Mr Çavuşoğlu’s proposals with regard to reforms
which should be carried out in Kyrgyzstan in order for the country
to continue on the path of democratic transition (Chapter 6), and
I have included these elements in the draft resolution.
15. Obviously, Kyrgyzstan is far from being an accomplished democracy,
and there are a number of issues of concern with regard to the rule
of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. These
issues, some of which are referred to in Mr Çavuşoğlu’s report (Chapter
7) and were raised by committee members with the Kyrgyz parliamentarians,
must continue to be followed closely.
16. In particular, pervasive corruption, an ethnically flawed,
non-impartial and non-independent judiciary, continued use of torture,
and still unresolved consequences of inter-ethnic tensions cause
particular concern and must be addressed as matters of priority.
The parliament should take the leading role in pushing forward reforms
in these areas.
17. Partner for democracy status does not provide immunity from
criticism in the Assembly. On the contrary, it should provide a
basis, and create conditions, for the Assembly to take a more attentive
and specific look at areas where the situation needs to be seriously
18. The report by Mr Çavuşoğlu concludes that the official request
by the Kyrgyz Parliament to be granted partner for democracy status
is consistent with the requirements of the Rules of Procedure (paragraph
72), and suggests that it be accepted (paragraph 114). I agree with
these conclusions and proposals. Several discussions in the committee
have shown that, while there was considerable scepticism with regard
to the Kyrgyz Parliament’s request at the beginning of the procedure,
the majority of colleagues is now in favour of the granting of the
3 Visit to Kyrgyzstan
19. On 24 and 25 February 2014, I carried out a brief
visit to Kyrgyzstan in order to collect updated information on the
current political situation in the country and the prospects for
the future. I also wanted to discuss some of the questions raised
by colleagues in the previous committee meetings, especially the situation
of children and the high number of emigrant workers.
20. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with the First
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Djoomart Otorbaev, the Deputy Prime Minister
Mr Toktokuchuk Mamytov, the Minister of Culture Mr Sultan Rae, and
the Deputy Minister for Social Development Ms Narynkul Eshenkulova.
In the parliament, I met with the Deputy Speaker, Ms Asiya Sasykbaeva,
as well as with the chairpersons, members and the staff of the Committees
on Foreign Affairs, on Defence and Security, on Social Affairs and
Education, and on Culture and Sport. I also had briefings with the
representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union, as well as with a number
of foreign representatives in Bishkek.
21. My general conclusion following this visit is that, despite
many internal and external challenges, the Kyrgyz authorities are
committed to strengthening parliamentary democracy and improving
the rule of law as well as to fighting corruption. According to
various interlocutors, the main political forces and the majority
of the population continue to support the political choices made
after the 2010 “revolution”, including the parliamentary democratic
22. At the same time, many systemic problems which led to the
revolution remain unresolved and may trigger a new wave of tensions.
The degree of support for the current government, but also for the
political model, largely depends on the capacity of the authorities
to deliver practical and tangible results for the improvement of
the life of most of the population.
23. Despite good economic results in 2013, with a 10.5% growth
of gross domestic product (GDP) and the inflation rate maintained
at 4%, living standards remain very low. The 70% increase in foreign
investment recorded in 2013 has yet to produce its positive effects
on the economy and the future of the people. In some areas, unemployment
reportedly reaches 50% to 60% of the population. The number of Kyrgyz
migrant workers abroad is now estimated to be more than one million.
The authorities have stepped up efforts to fight corruption but
its level remains extremely high, which further weakens people’s
confidence in political and public institutions, including political
24. The consolidation of democracy in Kyrgyzstan, especially its
parliamentary democracy, requires the transformation of its parties
into genuinely democratic political parties which represent and
involve citizens. Currently, while there exists about 30 parties
in the country, only a few of them are more than “one-man shows”, have
concrete programmes, are able to represent and mobilise citizens,
and function in accordance with democratic principles. Too many
parties are still based on personal loyalties and function according
to clan and clientele interests. Europe’s political experience in
this field would be very useful for Kyrgyzstan. One concrete proposal
would be to organise, in the framework of our future partnership
with the Kyrgyz Parliament, a seminar dedicated to the role and
functioning of political parties as cornerstones of democracy and
to develop, together with Kyrgyz colleagues, concrete steps for
the democratic transformation of their parties.
25. The apparent stability in the south remains fragile and the
root causes of the 2010 inter-ethnic clashes have still to be properly
addressed. Ethnic Uzbeks are strongly under-represented in the administration,
in particular in law-enforcement bodies and the judiciary. Reportedly,
there are no ethnic Uzbeks in the police in the areas where they
represent the majority, which strengthens mistrust of the police.
26. In addition to tensions between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek citizens,
a recent incident between border guards from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
further complicated the situation in the southern regions. The borders between
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are only partly demarcated
and there are several hundred kilometres of contested borders. These
problems are linked to problems of water management and supply,
as well as the construction of roads, which also serve to traffic
27. One of the specific problems raised by the members of the
committee is child labour. In his report, Mr Çavuşoğlu refers to
a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the National
Statistical Committee of Kyrgyzstan “Working Children in Kyrgyzstan:
Results of the 2007 Child Labour Study”. According to this research,
“672 000 of the 1 467 000 children aged 5-17 in Kyrgyzstan are economically
active. This figure represents 45.8% of all children aged 5-17 and
21.9% of all working individuals in Kyrgyzstan”.
During my visit to Kyrgyzstan, I raised this issue with several
interlocutors in the parliament and the government. Although my
counterparts contested the data of the 2008 ILO report, and quoted
much lower figures,Note
the difficulty of gathering precise data and did not deny the gravity
of the problem. Nation-wide research on the situation of children,
including their schooling, is now being prepared by the government.
29. Whether or not the ILO figures are correct, it is clear that
there is a child labour problem in Kyrgyzstan and it needs to be
addressed. I am convinced, however, that this should not become
an obstacle for the Assembly to grant the status to, and to co-operate
with, the Kyrgyz Parliament. On the contrary, as already mentioned
above, the status would offer the framework for raising this and
other issues of concern in our dialogue with Kyrgyz colleagues and
find ways for all children to get adequate schooling – an undeniable condition
for a better economy in the future.
30. Another serious problem related to children, and one of the
consequences of child labour, are high school-dropout rates. According
to many interlocutors, the school education system is in a poor
condition, classes are overcrowded, teachers’ salaries are too low
and textbooks are lacking. At the same time, education does not
seem to be an issue of priority for foreign aid programmes. This
situation should be changed and we should consider this also as
a priority for bilateral aid. Kyrgyzstan needs international support
to seriously upgrade its education system. Democracy cannot survive
without well-educated and socially active citizens. Investing in
education would help prepare the citizens of the future and would
therefore be an investment in the consolidation of democracy.
31. In the regional context, Kyrgyzstan remains the only country
which shows a serious commitment to parliamentary democracy and
has a political system which seeks to provide a balance between
various political actors and does not rely on a single person. The
closest “neighbours” trying to affect similar changes are South Korea
and Mongolia, which are geographically closer than Turkey, with
whom Kyrgyzstan shares historical roots. In view of the changes
which will inevitably occur in the region in the years to come,
the success of the democratic transition in Kyrgyzstan may have
a stabilising effect for the whole region and should become an inspiring
example for neighbouring States.
32. In my view, the Kyrgyz Parliament meets the criteria
laid down in Rule 61 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure and should
be granted partner for democracy status.
33. The letter of 27 October 2011 containing the formal request
for the status to be granted should be considered as the political
commitment, on the part of the Kyrgyz Parliament, to continued work
in order to conform to the basic values and principles of the Council
of Europe, and to the requirements set forth in the Rules of the
34. It is important that Kyrgyzstan, the only country in Central
Asia to have chosen parliamentary democracy as the basis of its
political system, continues on the path of democratic transition.
Kyrgyzstan deserves full support in this endeavour.
35. At the same time, Kyrgyzstan, as a young independent country
with a turbulent political history and a burden of problems inherited
from the past, still has a long way to go towards democracy, the
rule of law and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
36. Partner for democracy status is not a certificate of perfect
democracy but a tool to improve it by openly discussing and overcoming
deficiencies. The Assembly should remain vigilant with regard to
the problems and shortcomings of Kyrgyzstan falling within its remit,
and stand ready to share its experience and offer its assistance
in addressing them.
37. By requesting partner for democracy status, the Kyrgyz Parliament
has demonstrated its will to embark on this path and its readiness
to learn from best European practice, and has chosen Council of
Europe standards as benchmarks on its way forward.
38. The draft resolution, with a favourable view on the request
for partner for democracy status, contains a list of priority areas
where further progress is needed in order to consolidate democratic
transition. We expect the granting of the status to encourage the
parliament to play a more prominent role in the process of reforms.
39. Accountability is an important part of the partnership. In
accordance with established practice, I believe that the Assembly
should review, within two years at the latest, the progress achieved
by the Kyrgyz Parliament in implementing the aims of the partnership,
with particular attention to the priority areas listed in the draft resolution.
40. In the meantime, the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy
should follow up developments in Kyrgyzstan both through regular
dialogue with the Kyrgyz partner for democracy delegation in the
Assembly and through rapporteur fact-finding visits.
41. In accordance with Rule 61.3, and taking into account the
size of the population and the political diversity of Kyrgyzstan,
its parliament should be allocated three seats of representative
and three seats of substitute. Furthermore, in accordance with Rule
61.4, the partner for democracy delegation shall be composed in
such a way as to ensure a fair representation of the political parties
or groups present in the parliament. It shall include at least the
same percentage of the under-represented sex as is present in the
parliament and in any case one representative of each sex.
42. I strongly encourage the Kyrgyz Parliament to avail itself
of the opportunity offered by partner for democracy status in order
to actively participate in the work of the Assembly and its committees.
As the examples of the Moroccan Parliament and the Palestinian National
Council show, such participation contributes to strengthening the
position and the capacity of the parliament in the political system
of the country and its responsibility for the implementation of
43. We must be aware that an active participation by the Kyrgyz
parliamentarians in our work – which would be the best way of contributing
to the learning process and the strengthening of a democratic parliamentary culture
in the country – will require additional resources from the parliament,
and that assistance from our member States and international organisations
might be needed.
44. Last but not least, it needs to be borne in mind that the
partner for democracy status of the Kyrgyz Parliament may be questioned,
suspended and even withdrawn should the parliament consistently
fail to comply with its political commitments, or should political
developments in the country so require.