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Foreign relations of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan favors close relations with other CIS members, in particular with Kazakhstan and Russia. Recognizing Russia's concerns about the Russian-speaking minority in Kyrgyzstan, President Akayev has been sensitive to potential perceptions of discrimination. For example, although the 1993 Constitution designates Kyrgyz as the official language, a June 1994 presidential decree stipulated that Russian will have official status alongside Kyrgyz in regions and at enterprises where Russian speakers constitute a majority, as well as in sectors--health, technical science--where the use of Russian is appropriate.

While Kyrgyzstan was initially determined to stay in the ruble zone, the stringent conditions set forth by the Russian Government prompted Kyrgyzstan to introduce its own currency, the som, in May 1993. Kyrgyzstan's withdrawal from the ruble zone was done with little prior notification and initially caused tensions in the region. Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan temporarily suspended trade, and Uzbekistan even introduced restrictions tantamount to economic sanctions. Both nations feared an influx of rubles and an increase in inflation. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan's hostility toward Kyrgyzstan was short-lived, and the three nations signed an agreement in January 1994 creating an economic union. This led to the relaxation of border restrictions between the nations the following month. Kyrgyzstan also has contributed to the CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan.

Turkey has sought to capitalize on its cultural and ethnic links to the region and has found Kyrgyzstan receptive to cultivating bilateral relations. The Kyrgyz Republic also has experienced a dramatic increase in trade with China, its southern neighbor. Kyrgyzstan has been active in furthering regional cooperation, such as joint military exercises with Uzbek and Kazakh troops.

In January 1999, a new OSCE office opened in Bishkek; on February 18, 2000 the OSCE announced that an additional office will be opened in Osh to assist Bishkek in carrying out its work. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the OSCE, the CIS, and the United Nations.

Disputes - international: territorial dispute with Tajikistan on southwestern boundary in Isfara Valley[?] area; periodic target of Islamic terrorists from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

Illicit drugs: limited illicit cultivator of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for CIS consumption; limited government eradication program; increasingly used as transshipment point for illicit drugs to Russia and Western Europe from Southwest Asia[?]

See also : Kyrgyzstan



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