Roza Otunbayeva

20th Anniversary of Kyrgyzstan Independence - Aug. 31, 2011

Roza Otunbayeva
August 31, 2011— Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
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Dear compatriots! Distinguished guests!

I heartily congratulate you on the occasion of the great and bright holiday - the 20th anniversary of the Independence of Kyrgyzstan and the sacred Muslim holiday - Orozo Ait (Eid Mubarak)! Today we have unveiled a monument to our contemporary, a writer of the planetary scale - Chyngyz Aitmatov. Tomorrow we are having another important event: the opening of the monument to the great unifier of the Kyrgyz people - Manas.

All of these events are dedicated to the celebration of the Independence Day. In the near future we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Alai queen Kurmandjan-Datka, who played an enormous role in the history of our statebuilding.

It is symbolic to dedicate the year 2011 to commemorating the personality and the life of Kurmanzhan-Datka.

I often ask myself, why is it that during these difficult years of our young nation building we more often turn to the image of the great Manas - Manas the Benevolent (Magnanimous), as he is called in the epic.

While I understand that the image of the great hero of the Kyrgyz people feels overinflated due to frequent and undue repetitions we are also lacking the insightfulness, unselfishness and purity to look at it in a fresh and new way.

Despite this the epic Manas does not cease to be the most powerful, most attractive, and unifying symbol of our being, the source of our spiritual strength, moral grandeur, and an example of the unselfishness and self-sacrifice.

There are the following lines in the epic Manas:

While keeping the holly Ala-Too in my heart,

And raising the purity of the soul up to heavens,

Until my last breath it is the people

I will serve honestly, sparing no effort!

That is why we must revive the spirit of Manas over again, which can make it possible for each one of us and for the whole to be capable of a real feat in work, heroism and benevolence as did our Aikol Manas - Manas the Benevolent.

Dear compatriots! Distinguished guests!

Perhaps everyone is familiar with the feeling of climbing towards a mountain peak. It is natural for the climber to look back at his completed path before resuming the ascent.

Just as today we take a look at the historic landscape left behind us, and in the new century we peer into the future with courageous hope and aspiration.

Gaining independence for Kyrgyzstan had been a historical event for us.

On August 31, 1991 - the Declaration of the State Independence of the Kyrgyz Republic was announced, on May 5, 1993 - the first Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic as an independent sovereign state was adopted. On May 10, 1993 - Kyrgyzstan for the first time among the former Soviet countries introduced its own national currency - the SOM.

The political situation changed; the country had embraced democracy and started the process of liberalization of the economy and social life. Kyrgyzstan became a member of the UN and many other international organizations. During the first years of independence, Kyrgyzstan was at the forefront of political and socio-economic reforms among the former Soviet Union states.

Over the 20 years of independence, we went through thorny and tortuous paths of development. In history, as we know, there is no highroad. The transition period was very difficult: from a socialist planned economy to a market economy, from totalitarianism to democracy. At the turn of the century, all the countries of the Eurasian continent, including the republics of the former Union, went through that path.

In some countries the transition was smoother and therefore faster than in the other countries.

In another scenario, the shock therapy stunned people, "hushed" the development in the transitional period, and threw them into a hopeless debt bondage.

Personal greed of the heads of the state made corruption and profiteering the spirit and ideology of the society. Lack of faith in the future, unemployment, and the growing frustration increased the outward migration flows year on year.

Thus, processes that took centuries in other countries raced through our country in a rapid whirlpool during just twenty years.

The growing conflict of interests at the foreground of the sharp polarization of society, the attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, persecution and violence against the opposition, and the increasing concentration of the presidential power resulted in massive civil protests.

We experienced two turning points. First, the revolution of 2005, when the first president was exiled, after he humiliated the country with a web of corruption, subjugated the Constitution, and usurped the power. Then the revolution of 2010, when the second president was ousted, he violated the oath to the people, robbed the country to the last thread and shed the blood of his compatriots.

The main cause of the two people's revolutions was a bitter conflict between the society and the government. The authorities placed themselves above their own people, making themselves unaccountable to the people. They ceased expressing the people's interests. It is the violation

of the principles of freedom and justice that blew up the masses and pushed them to oppose the dictatorship of the president, the sole control of the country, and the transformation of the state power into one family business.

Our fundamental law - the Constitution of 1993 was subjected to endless amendments and revisions. The dismissal of the "Legendary" Parliament initiated many changes and rewriting of the Constitution on the eve of elections and referendums in favor of personal interests of both former presidents.

Today, while shaping the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court all of us must exercise the highest accountability to people and keep in mind the dramatic turns in the politics and the bloodshed caused by irresponsible decisions of the judges in black robes in the recent past: all of us includes me, the President, the Jogorku Kenesh, the independent judicial bodies, the Council on the Selection of Judges.

Bitter struggle of democracy and authoritarianism in the politics and the economy - on whether people should be given the fundamental freedoms and rights, or the rights for education, social protection, health care are more important for them - confronted many in our society all these years, forcing us to look at other countries to seek appropriate world experience. The last twenty years are the years of searching, incredible hardships and difficulties, complete change of ownership, learning and accepting of the new forms of management and gaining market knowledge.

The changing of the economic landscape, the new trade routes, the entry to the business sphere of hundreds of thousands of new producers and traders were all incredibly difficult processes. The survival in a complex environment completely dependent on petroleum, gas, and sometimes electricity threw us back to the pre-Soviet era more often than not. This remains painful for us today! The failures and twists on our road of a true democratic model building had been painful and bitter experience during the 20 years for us all, for the entire country. They led to loosening of the state institutions.

The authoritarian Akaev's regime contributed to the squandering of the state's property during the privatization process, the so-called "grabbing" of the national economy and of the strategic industrial assets, which created pyramids of corruption patronized by the family-clan mafia and organized crime. This caused the tragic Aksy events.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens raised their voices in the fight against injustice and impunity for crimes against people in all parts of the country. It became clear that democratization, the awakening of the masses towards controlling their destiny and a family-clan power - are the sworn enemies.

This was confirmed during the reign of Bakiyev. That time around even more disastrous in more pernicious forms of criminality and corruption swept through the country, embedded in the supreme power, the waves of raiding and redistribution of property, the most ruthless arbitrariness of the family and clan structure, the repression of the opposition, the rampant shadow economy, the drug trafficking, the violation of the constitutional norms, the folding away of the democratic institutions and the free press, the establishment of double standards in foreign and domestic policy.

All this could not but lead to a bloody climax on April 7, 2010. That's when we saw firsthand how Kyrgyzstan got completely enmeshed in the web of the warring criminality, joined with the highest structures of power and security agencies. But they were powerless in the face of the people's anger that swept all this evil in one swoop. In our memory imprinted are the tragic events of 21 years ago as the curtain was about to be drawn on the Soviet reign, when the pent-up acute socio-economic issues mixed with the political ones exploded in many countries of the former Soviet Union as a cascade of inter-ethnic conflicts and clashes, including the southern region of Kyrgyzstan.

By the same principles the authoritarian, family-clan periods of the two presidential rules that accumulated enormous economic and social problems, and contradictions inevitably led to people's revolutions and fierce collisions. If we follow the inner logic and the relationship between the Soviet era's distortions and mismanagement and those of the Akayev-cum- Bakiyev regimes, the possible outcome becomes clear and predictable for this period in which we live, that is that the accumulated serious problems with the corrupt system of one-man family and clan and their non-transparent ruling inevitably led to a bloody conflict.

The April revolution revealed all the problems, contradictions and conflicts in the society, including inter-ethnic relations.

The complexity of this situation was used as an advantage by the revenge-seekers. They were able to unleash a conflict between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the most sensitive region in the country.

We deeply mourn the victims of the bloody confrontations, when brother went against brother, neighbor against neighbor, when accumulated through the years grievances and disagreements lit a fire at once by the provocateurs.

We have lost hundreds of innocent people, fires destroyed thousands of homes, and small businesses. We ask all who suffered, who lost loved ones, to change the anger to compassion and generosity, emotions to conserving and patience, for the sake of the future, for the sake of our children to live and work in harmony on the same land, because we have a homeland, and if we tear it apart, it will not be for anyone.

Today we hear many different comments on the tragic events of June 2010, often accusing the Interim government of failing to prevent conflict.

Take a look at the day before yesterday, remember how in May and April of last year there was a question of life and death to our country, the country faced a "power vacuum", in the field there were spontaneously established people's governments, police and security forces were demoralized.

In Bishkek, more than 120 rallies and other mass actions were organized.

By the beginning of the bloody events in the south of the country the Interim government had yet to break the resistance of the former regime, to restore the power structures and stabilize the situation.

Nevertheless, by the energetic actions of the army and the people, volunteers from all parts of the country's conflict were stopped within 3-4 days, without the intervention of external forces. Look back to the 1990 interethnic conflict in Osh region that could not be prevented by the authorities of such a powerful country as the USSR, which had in its arsenal the party apparatus of the rigid chain of command, multi-million Soviet army, and the secret service that totally controlled the entire political situation in the society.

We have managed, with the help of friendly countries and international donors, to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. All affected families in the winter were provided shelter and fuel. All this was done under conditions of internal instability, an acute shortage of financial and logistical resources. Those days we all have witnessed tremendous information pressure and the inability to convey to the world community truthful, balanced, relevant information on the realities. But time has put everything in its place; today the international community is convinced that what happened cannot be classified as genocide or war crimes. These are the findings made by the independent International Commission of unprecedented nature in our part of the world.

The tragic events have shown how fragile our country - Kyrgyzstan was. We were able to prevent the further spread of ethnic clashes, and their transformation into a military confrontation.

However, it is too early to speak about the sustainable peace and harmony in the society. It takes years and years for complete reconciliation, to return to a peaceful and calm pace of life.

We must remember that the future is always built on forgiveness and reconciliation.

The basis for such a long-term process is finding and bringing to justice and fair punishment of the perpetrators of these tragic events.

The story of the twentieth century, unfolding before our eyes, has convincingly shown: there are no criminal ethnic groups, there are people who are criminals in every nation! Police, prosecutors, courts, endowed with power, cannot and must not protect some people while openly trampling on the rights of others!

We will push on law enforcement bodies of the two Oblasts in the south of the country to put to an end the unwarranted detention, the opening of and the investigation of criminal cases that violate the Criminal Procedure Code, the use of unlawful methods during interrogation, extortion, and bribe taking. Punishment of such guards is inevitable!

The Concept of ethnic policy was worked out in partnership with scientists, experts and representatives of all ethnic communities and it was approved at the General Meeting (Kurultai) of Assembly of the Kyrgyzstan's people in June 2011. The Concept with concrete action plan has found a positive response within the society. It is vital the provisions of this document become guidance for activities, base for daily concrete measures in the field. The modern history of conflicts and wars in the world says that everything finally finds its solution in mind rather than in force. Dissensions and conflicts exhaust the country. Unity, justice and harmony consolidate people and put on progress path.

Dear Compatriots,

The Interim Government, taking responsibility for the country's aftermath of the 7th of April events, defined the transitional period with concrete stages for remedy of the state structures of governance and the socio-political stabilization.

Transitional term meant the adoption of the new Constitution and changing the model of governance, holding transparent and democratic parliamentary elections, forming of the executive branch of power in line with the new Constitution, and reforming the judiciary system while making it free of corrupt individuals.

The last stage is the presidential elections in October 2011 and founding of the peaceful power transmission tradition in our country. Thus the legitimization of all systems of the state governance will be completed.

The New Constitution, approved at the Referendum on 27 June, 2010 institutes the first parliamentarian republic in Central Asia. The Interim Government only three months after ascension to power has transmitted its mandate to the elected President and Care-taker Government. Some of the members of the Interim Government like Almaz Atambayev, Temir Sariev, Omurbek Tekebayev, Bolot Sher, Duyshon Chotonov participated in the parliamentarian elections equally with others. All political parties, including oppositional and those representatives of trooped regime, have had a freedom for the participation in these elections. Thus began the new form of political culture in the country. We have been shown in the region a sample of free and faire elections highly appreciated by the international community.

The Care Taker Government succeeded in coping with its tasks: the year was closed without internal debt, wages, pensions and allowances were paid in time and fully, and the GDP only declined by 1.4 percent while the socio-economic situation got stabilized.

Thus, the Government that was formed by the coalitional majority of the Parliament at the end of last year obtained good conditions for launching its work as the New Year was started practically from a clean slate. Nevertheless, the Coalition Government started its duties in the tough post-crisis period and applied incredible efforts in order to keep socio-economic stability and sustain the challenges of vital decisions on issues of raising living standards of the population, yet also dealing with the burden of previous years.

Unfortunately, during the last 20 years we lost more than benefited and destroyed rather than constructed due to the reshuffling of economic reforms. Often following blindfold receipts we practically lost a national industry. Total privatization took us to the real deindustrialization of the country and now the productive capacities of giant-industries such as factories of Lenin, Frunze, Physpribory, Osh cotton and paper-mill and Osh silk-spinning are empty, destroyed or re-profiled for different markets.

Here is one sample. The engineering and laboratory Unit of the Space Research Institute's Special Design Office, the elaborations and instruments of which used to work in the Space Units with Kyrgyz brand, today leased by clothing factory and a main producing base has turned into a simple market of building materials. The same situation with agrarian reforms, too. Land reform in Kyrgyzstan has resulted in the establishment of peasant households and farms and introducing the private property rights on land and other mechanisms of the market economy. Unfortunately, the land reform lead to the loss of commodity production of the agricultural sector and lead us back to natural economy. As a result of deindustrialization and collapse of agricultural production, hundreds of jobs were liquidated and internal and external mass migration of population was started and today hundreds and thousands of our compatriots work outside of the country facing incredible hardships and risks.

During the last two decades ordinary people went through some unkind market education: they only hope for the help of the Mighty One and on themselves. The poorest join the mutual- benefit-groups, actively taking out microloans to multiply livestock and re-sell, as trading has become the life school for entire generations.

The last 20 years we spent not only for dismantling but also for established the new productions on the ruin of previous years thanks to the energy, hard work and bold ideas of hundreds and thousands entrepreneurs. Today we can see clearly the outlines of progress in transport, energy, mining industry and agriculture sectors of national economy. Rebuilding of clothing industry with 300 000 strong labor force and gaining our country branding in the foreign markets is a brilliant example of our growth. The telecommunications industry's average annual 20 percent growth and our programmers' successful work as out-sourced specialists for worlds' big companies demonstrate the great capacity of the country that remains to be tapped.

Here is a few figures on the economic development today. During the first half of this year the GDP growth was 5.5 percent that was achieved due to the rise in the industrial production turnover with the growth rate of 113.9 percent and the growth of commodities and services turnover with growth rate of 103.5 percent, the agricultural production grew as well. There has been a considerable improvement in the national revenue generation and during the first half of this year the total volume of taxes collected grew by 125.2 percent, and those of customs duties - by 146.9 percent. The forecasts of the Government are optimistic in regards to the financial results of this year. Most importantly the Government is to maintain the trends and growth rates in the economy.

The unprecedented increase of wages for social sphere workers has been the most significant decision of this year. Our teachers, doctors, artisans' and junior serving staff received the wages 2-3 times higher than before. The Government is planning the next stage of increases of pensions and allowances. The Budget has become socially-oriented and the social sector's expenditures account for 41.3 percent of total charges.

Dear compatriots,

A country's competitiveness today's world depends mostly on the volume of investments into the human resources. This is the Alpha and the Omega of each country's development. Now we are in a crucial moment when the situation in education and science system of Kyrgyzstan became barrier and the cause for slowing down on the way of social and economic progress. It is time to reform the education system with clear tasks and goals as well as planned parameters of quality and quantity. Joining the Bologna process in order to integrate our education into the international space, which was recently approved by the Government, lays a good start for belated changes. In our education system we need to persistently raise the functional literacy and vocational training with special attention to the skills and learning required by the labor markets. The orientation towards the natural and exact sciences, engineering and agricultural specializations is necessary. It is time to annul the old system of academic degrees and honors, and move towards the international standards of qualification attestations.

Dear Kyrgyzstanis,

Today, a top priority task of governance is recovery of people's trust and respect to authorities not only towards the Head of the State but also to the Parliament, to the Government, to the judicial system, to the law enforcement bodies and to the local administrations. This lack of trust got accumulated not only in one year, and its remedy may take more than one year. I would like to note that the parliamentary system of governance has considerably maintained the transparency and accountability to the authorities to the society despite a seeming chaos, lack of systemic approach and recurring public scandals. The long awaited change of the governing personnel, including some Ministers and some other high positions, began to take shape.

To ensure transparency of activities of ministries and departments we have begun to establish public supervisory boards. This is a new institution, and a lot of work is yet to be done for it to take roots and to achieve relevant effect. However, the efforts of the public supervisory board members are pleasant in the field of the budget transparency, the openness of the law enforcement agencies, and the information accessibility to the civil society members.

Dear compatriots!

In the centre of public attention these days is the reform of the judicial system. Over the past 20 years, attempts were made to reform the judicial system, but all of them were halted, and everything was done to keep the judiciary in the bridle. The controllability of the judicial system became a custom - the judges are instructed on decisions to be made not only on the phone, but by invitations to the high offices, to. Corruption of the courts has undermined the fairness in society, put down the slope not only the economic future, but the entire constitutional system of the country. Immediately the next day after April 7 provisional government was under pressure from large numbers of complaints of unjust decisions of courts, their red tape. We dissolved the Constitutional Court dismissed 10 judges of the Supreme Court, more than 40 local judges were released, so began the process of cleansing the system of dishonest judges.

Today I want to appeal to the people, Jogorku Kenesh, Government, all political forces - we have a historic opportunity to really upgrade the judiciary, open the way for an honest, highly professional, always improving and growing, and indifferent citizens to all levels of judicial power. The country has ten thousand people with good experiences in various legal specializations, including more than 2,800 licensed lawyers. Our universities annually release more than four thousand lawyers in different fields.

The people have high demands to the authorities, and some expectations that have not been betrayed. It paid for these changes at a high price - over a hundred lives of its heroes. In order to raise the authority of the courts - and they are now at the lower rows of the poll information that the courts have become the skeleton of the law and support of the human rights, we need strong mass appeal, the formation of a new judiciary, scrapping all corporate ligaments, corruption schemes, phone law, political patronage.

We are told - the courts are just as the society is. Yet people are fed up with the current system of justice! Let's keep in mind - the success of any country, stability and its future is firmly connected with the fair courts. Investors are moving away from us because of the hopeless corruption of the courts in electoral processes courts decide in favor of candidates with tight wallets or connections in high offices, bags of money in the courts decide the fate of tens of thousands of acres of public lands. Not mentioning the thousands of people roaming the various judicial authorities to solve their civil cases?

The public is closely following the work of the Council on the Selection of Judges, the voice of every member of the Council; the public will not allow bending the judiciary to the interests of political parties. Let the young lawyers enter the courts- honest and morally pure, tuned to justice! They need to be educated, trained - we have the necessary funds for it! Only then will the people believe in the power of authorities, they will remain living at home, work for the country, with a light heart and hope to raise our children to dream about the future together.

Dear compatriots.

Exactly in two months the presidential elections will take place. The high stakes and the rush around the presidential post clearly demonstrate the critical significance rather than the magnificence of this position within the power structure.

Even long before the election race some of its participants declared their critical views about the new Constitution and the necessity of changing the form of governance. They are speculating on existing gaps of the Constitution, which could be rectified by laws without any politicization. They are taking attempts to discredit the parliamentary government and without any shame continue to applaud the authoritarian regime that was bankrupted twice. They are trying to bring us back to the constitutional crossroads.

In this kind of heated discussions elements of cold reasoning are required. Each process requires a certain time. In order for the parliamentary system to reveal its efficiency a rolling distance is required. Only historical time can demonstrate the evident advantages and probable drawbacks of a parliamentary system for our social and economic development.

Today, when we already learned the hard way, we know there is none and there could not be any guarantees from the personal tyranny of the head of the state, when there is no legal mechanisms to resist his unsocial and anti-national policy.

There is no doubt that the return to the presidential model of government will lead to chaos, will hold back the country's development and we most likely will be overflowed by the third wave of autocracy, corruption and curtail of democratic reforms.

Despite the fact that only one year has passed since adoption of the new Constitution and new Parliament we all have clearly felt the new trends: the country has started breathing freely, social climate has been recovered, civil society has become more active, and the initiatives of masses has re-awakened. The Parliamentary system secretly impresses its avid opponents - during the whole time they are living in an open, democratic climate, they have got real opportunities to criticize the authorities from every platform of every corner of the country without any oppression. The government is criticized raced against by the parliamentarian opposition, and even by the coalition bench. The critiques are those who fully take part in the governing of the country, who control the core committees in the parliament, have their own ministers within the government, head of oblasts and regions also criticize.

In spite of the conflicts and confrontation between the fractions, coalition and the opposition, parliamentary culture is fighting its own way in the Jogorku Kenesh. It means that the culture of consensus, negotiability and cooperation in joint governing the country is being formed. Let me repeat myself, that it's neither an easy way to overcome nor fast, which we have to pass, based on our own intelligence, tenacity and strength. But we have already made the first and the hardest steps. If we are the sons of our fathers, if we are worthy successors of our traditions, we should bravely go ahead along the chosen path, without looking around and quaking with fear on the unknown way.

We should thoroughly think over the fact and realize that there is nothing absolutely new in our social and political choice of 2010. We merely returned back to our own origins that were forgotten in our historical searches. We have revived and gave a new breath to the best values of our ancestry. This is what our history is, and it was entrusted by our ancestry, and it is same now, passing through the crucible of losses and ordeals.

Dear compatriots!

Essential international developments and disturbances have taken place during the last 20 years. The situation in the Central Asian region, complicated challenges and threats standing before the country, require from us to strengthen the border security, to have military efficient army, highly mobilized force authorities and ordinary citizens against acts of terrorism and extremists tricks. International terrorism actively involves for its operations domestic radical religious organizations. By involving in illegal religious and partial networks, actively spreading its instructions and information, especially via internet, Islamic extremists are imposing their ideas of decisive change of the existing constitutional order with any means including coercive actions.

In 1999-2000 the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has treacherously invaded Batken and Osh oblasts of the Kyrgyz Republic in order to create the Islamic caliphate and the further spread of its influence in the region. Our soldiers bravely fought against the international terrorists. They have shown courage and fortitude and defended their homeland - Kyrgyzstan.

We in Kyrgyzstan are well aware that in this interdependent world of modern combat and transnational threats we must only be together - in the unity of national efforts at the regional and global scales. Together with a strategic partner, Russia, our great neighbor China, the fraternal states Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, we are building in the region, robust security zone. Security and stability in the region contributes to our close cooperation within the CIS, CSTO, SCO, OSCE and UN.

All these years - at the ups and downs - the international community was with us. International financial institutions, countries such as USA, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey has always been supporting us, and have had a huge investment, financial and technical assistance.

Kyrgyzstan's future is closely linked to the economy and the market of the EurAsEC countries. We can not just limit ourselves with trade. It's time now to organize our own production, to manufacture products. This is why we have embarked on the Customs Union. Free movement of labor, resources, capital, services on a large Eurasian space are needed to Kyrgyzstan as well as the common language and spiritual environment.

Dear compatriots!

There are stormy political processes going on in Kyrgyzstan such as the presidential election which is to be held on October 30 - the big test closely watched by the international community. Just as in June 27 and October 10, 2010 when the world's attention was focused on our country. We were openly intimidated in our country; the ideological and military disruption acts were been prepared by some groups; there was a threat of boycotting the elections and even some predictions for more bloody disasters. We withstood the onslaught, turned our faces directly to the people. And we won: the elections were held peacefully and plebiscite evaluated them as free and open!

Today the situation is still fragile. Yet I can say with confidence that we are now much stronger, both as a state and as a nation than we were under an authoritarian ruler just a year ago. Despite the fact that there are still a lot of difficulties to overcome, we are optimistic.

In the upcoming election of our shared aspiration, as bequeathed to us by the Great Manas, should be a reasonable compromise and a balance of interests, generosity and universal unification. Only then can we confront all the challenges and trials!

May Kyrgyzstani statehood in the land of Ala-Too never be interrupted! In the words of legendary Manas: "The Lord! I ask for the only thing from you - do not let the name Kyrgyz disappear off from the earth!..."

Once again I heartily congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of Independence of the Kyrgyz Republic!

Thank you!