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Kyrgyzstan: Revolution politics

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Kyrgyzstan: Revolution politics

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Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva has played a key role in two revolutions.

The first was ridding the country of its then leader, President Akayev in 2005. Five years later President Bakiyev‎ was removed by popular revolution.

Roza Otunbayeva inspired the protest movement; a philosopher and diplomat she took the helm of the country and guided it through a difficult and dangerous transition period, declaring war on corruption,the clan system, nationalism and religious extremism.

euronews, journalist, Knarik Papoyan spoke to her and first asked: “Kyrgyzstan is the only true parliamentary democracy in Central Asia. How did this unique situation come about?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“One year ago a number of opposition parties came together, united in our aversion to Bakiyev‎‘s corrupt regime. We realised then that we needed to move toward a parliamentary form of government. We have achieved that, but we still face risks and challenges. But looking back we were determined to change the nature of government. On 7 April when 87 men were shot from the roof of the White House – our parliament – we realised we needed a change in power.”

euronews:

“Are you taking any legal moves against the former president Bakiyev‎?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“He is in Belarus, he’s been offered a kind of asylum there. Recent events in North Africa allow us to see things in a different light. It’s clear that these types of people, who allegedly order mass killings, should be punished.”

euronews:

“So you want him extradited?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“We know where he is. We also want his son extradited from London.”

euronews:

“Maxim?

Roza Otunbayeva:

“And the extradition of his brothers, particularly one of them who used to be the head of the state security service. He is suspected of being at the centre of all the atrocities that took place in our country. We are not indifferent to the fact that many of our requests have been ignored by certain countries. And we are aware that some of Bakiev’s acolytes and allies have been given refugee status, or even nationality, as a result of alleged investments made with stolen capital in other countries.”

euronews:

“You referred to the revolutionary developments in some Arab states today. Based on your experience, how would you advise these fledgling regimes to avoid the corruption of previous governments.”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“Well, the most important thing is not to waste time. One must do what needs to be done. If you respond slowly it may be too late. When these kinds of events take place all the residue rises to the surface, the residue should normally stay at the bottom, but it rises from the abyss. So decisive action is required to force it back from where it came. A society influenced by criminality has no future. So one needs a clear and strong plan of action. The people will always support authorities or leaders who really want to clean up the country.”

euronews:

“Kyrgyzstan is the only country which hosts both Russian and US military bases. Is this co-existence a problem?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“This is the current situation in Kyrgyzstan for sure, it must look like a paradox from the outside, but for us our politics is logical and clear.”

euronews:

“What is the future for the US base at Manas; is there a clear timetable for its closure?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“Yes, for a while now, during Bakiev’s time, a treaty was signed limiting the base’s presence until 2014. That is the year coalition forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan. I believe these commitments should be respected.”

euronews:

“Your country is sometimes referred to as a place where the interests of three major world powers overlap, namely Russia, China and the US. What is the direction of your foreign policy?

Roza Otunbayeva:

“I think we should consider the interests of all three, they are our major partners. This is not necessarily a negative thing. It can be an advantage, we occupy a strategic location in Asia and the interests of all came together in our land. We shall try to exploit this to our advantage.”

euronews:

“You have recently met with EU heads and NATO in Brussels. What do you expect from Europe?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“The EU is Kyrgyzstan’s biggest donor after the World Bank. So during our meetings with EU heads, we spoke about financial circumstances, our serious budget deficit, the issues associated with an expanding democracy and honing our parliamentary system. We need to strengthen it, to reinvent our judicial system and train young journalists. These are the range of issues discussed in Brussels.”

euronews:

“One Central Asian analyst said that you are a bright and dynamic politician and at the same time said, I quote ‘Unlike male politicians in Kyrgyzstan with their pragmatism, your expectations are romantic.’ Do you think politics can accommodate romantics?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

“I do think there is room for the romantic, despite the difficulties. We live in a complex, arduous environment. But the romantic side is that our society is not only made up of revolutionaries, but also poets. Not just pragmatic economists, but also young people and women whose hearts are full of dreams and hope. All of us want to stand strong for the future of our children.”

euronews:

It is for them that you wrote in your blog, ‘Enough of politics, let’s read poetry?”

Roza Otunbayeva:

(laughs) “Yes, indeed!”