Response to the Head of the OSCE Center in Bishkek and the Head of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek

As delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
April 19, 2012

The United States warmly welcomes Ambassador Andrew Tesoriere and Dr. Maxim Ryabkov back to the Permanent Council and we thank you both for your reports.

Ambassador Tesoriere, once again we very much appreciate your detailed and comprehensive report. Your ‘twin-track’ approach of supporting both stabilization and democratization has clearly paid dividends for the people and the Government of Kyrgyzstan.

We appreciate the five strategic and cross-dimensional goals you outline in your report today; they speak to the OSCE’s unique concept of comprehensive security. We highly value the Center’s work with the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan, as well as your focus on the role of political parties and civil society and the importance of improving inter-ethnic relations.

The United States sees the peaceful Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan as a watershed moment in the country’s history, but encourages the Government to correct the shortcomings outlined in the ODIHR Observation Mission’s final report. As we have seen in the last 12 months in Kyrgyzstan, the trust of the people in the results of their voting is crucial for the development of a true democracy.

Despite positive developments this year in Kyrgyzstan, challenges remain. We are concerned about the state of media freedom, especially in light of the blocking earlier this year of the website. Regarding the government’s implementation of its human rights commitments, we remain troubled by continued reports that ethnic minorities are subject to discrimination, abuse, and extortion by police and other government officials. We are especially concerned about the continued incarceration of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov and his co-defendants on the basis of a trial and appeal process marked by numerous failures of due process for the defendants. We urge the government of Kyrgyzstan to take all steps necessary to ensure that these cases receive complete and thorough reviews to ensure the fairness and integrity of the judicial system. The OSCE is well placed to help Kyrgyzstan address these issues, as well as to assist in combating corruption and developing measures to end torture in detention.

We also continue to support the format of the three Special Representatives of the European Union, the Chairmanship-in-Office, and the United Nations and we look forward to their visit to Kyrgyzstan. Under your leadership, the Center has also played a pivotal role in the tripartite OSCE-EU-UN partnership with its focus on conflict prevention, crisis management, early warning, and capacity building. We support this approach and look forward to the results of the next meeting this spring.

In support of the OSCE Center’s efforts, the United States is proud to have been a contributor to the Community Security Initiative. Since CSI’s inception, the United States has sent a total of eight police officers and donated two million dollars to help ensure the program’s success. We are glad to hear your report highlight the efforts CSI is making, especially in the south, to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve. In light of ongoing abuses by law enforcement, however, it is crucial that CSI redouble its efforts to promote respect for human rights. We look forward to working with the Center, the SPMU, and, most importantly, the Government of Kyrgyzstan over the coming months to determine how the OSCE can further advance police reform in Kyrgyzstan.

We are especially appreciative of the valuable work the Center in Bishkek has undertaken to step up engagement with Afghanistan, especially through the OSCE Academy and the Kyrgyz Customs Training Center. We hope to see these activities increase in the coming year. Dr. Ryabkov, we congratulate you and your staff on the opening of the second Master of Arts program in Economic Governance and Development on January 16 this year. The United States strongly supports the Academy; we were pleased to be able to support the new Master’s Program with donations of $65,000 last year and $280,000 this year. We wish you every continued success.

We also want to thank you, Ambassador Tesoriere, and your team in Bishkek and Osh for the program establishing Training Mediation Teams in Osh and Jalalabad. These combined teams of government officials and civil society members, reaching across the ethnic divide, have made significant inroads in addressing long-term sources of inter-ethnic conflict. We wish them every continued success as well.

Finally, Ambassador Tesoriere, as this is your last report to Permanent Council, I want to take this opportunity to extend my most sincere thanks and that of the United States Government for the excellent work you have done over the last four years in Bishkek. It has been a period of historic transition in Kyrgyzstan and you were clearly the right person for the job. Your extensive experience in the region, your passion for the values of the OSCE, and your professionalism will be missed in both Vienna and Bishkek. We extend our thanks to Her Majesty’s Government for making your service possible and we wish you every continued success.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.