Just weeks before scheduled elections in Kyrgyzstan, RFE and the Foreign Policy Institute brought experts together to discuss the prospects for democracy in the Central Asian nation. [full transcript
RFE's James Kirchick, who traveled to Kyrgyzstan twice this year, was joined by Erica Marat
of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute and Jeff Goldstein
of the Open Society Foundation. The discussion was moderated by Steve LeVine
, author of "The Oil and The Glory."
BRIEFING: Can Democracy Take Root in Kyrgyzstan?.
Although the group agreed on the strengths of civil society in Kyrgyzstan, calling it the most mature in Central Asia, they worried about the country's future following this summer's ethnic clashes that left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
Kirchick said there was a dramatic change in the nation's mood between the time he visited following the coup earlier this year and when he returned after the violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.
Marat said she has reason to be more helpful for Kyrgyzstan's future despite the "bleak short term picture." She said a successful election could boost stability as long as a wide range of groups are included in the new government. Otherwise, expect further tension and a growing number of paralimilitary groups, she said.
Jeff Goldstein spoke strongly in favor or deploying an unarmed OSCE police monitoring force to Kyrgyzstan.
“There needs to be continued pressure on the government in Bishek to deploy these police monitors,” he said. He added that the international community should assist in police and security reforms.
- Joseph Hammond