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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BISHKEK1187
2007-09-26 12:46:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER KARABAYEV'S TRIP TO THE

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  MARR  KG 
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0220
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2284
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0717
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2688
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2071
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BISHKEK 001187 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER KARABAYEV'S TRIP TO THE
UNITED STATES

REF: A. BISHKEK 1170

B. BISHKEK 1001

BISHKEK 00001187 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ednan Karabayev will travel to
Washington and New York between September 26 and October 3.
This is his first trip to the United States since becoming
foreign minister in February 2007, and the first high-level
visit since President Bakiyev and former Foreign Minister
Jekshenkulov went to New York in September 2005. Karabayev
will aim to show that U.S.-Kyrgyz relations are on a positive
trajectory, with improved cooperation on a range of issues.
Karabayev himself has worked to improve the atmosphere,
reaching out to the Embassy, NGOs, and assistance
implementers. He is anxious to mend some damaged fences, but
he would also like to secure greater U.S. assistance, both to
the Kyrgyz government and for investment projects. Karabayev
is well aware that he will have to explain the current
domestic political situation and developments on
constitutional reform, and he seems convinced that the
proposed constitution is a step forward.

A Referendum and Parliamentary Elections


--------------------------





2. (C) Kyrgyzstan is heading into a tumultuous autumn.
Feeling confident following a successful SCO summit in
August, and with the opposition divided and ineffective, the
Bakiyev administration is moving forward with plans to settle
the debate over "constitutional reform" by pushing through a
new constitution that suits its interests. Bakiyev will also
likely dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections by
the end of the year, with the expectation that his new
political party (or a bloc of pro-presidential parties) would
gain a majority. These moves raise the question whether
Kyrgyzstan is moving toward democracy or toward managed
democracy like its neighbors.



3. (C) In November and December 2006, Kyrgyzstan adopted two
new versions of the constitution, both passed by parliament
and signed by the president. On September 14, the
Constitutional Court invalidated these versions on procedural
grounds (see Ref A), and on September 19 President Bakiyev
announced a national referendum on October 21 to consider a
"new version" of the constitution and a new election code.
Bakiyev's draft appears to strengthen certain presidential
powers (e.g., the right to dismiss the prime minister and
other ministers, increased control over local
administrations) and weaken the parliament. In addition,
under the Bakiyev draft, the next parliament will be elected
entirely on a proportional basis by party lists. The draft
election code sets the threshold for representation in
parliament at 5% of the eligible voters (a potentially high
threshold, with so much of Kyrgyzstan's working age
population in Russia and Kazakhstan).




4. (C) It is widely expected that with the constitutional
referendum announced, Bakiyev will next move to dissolve the
parliament and call early elections, possibly as soon as
December. Bakiyev has been laying the groundwork for a move
against the parliament; he has blamed the parliament for
stalled reforms and has criticized the "MP-businessmen" for
being unaccountable. Other senior officials have asserted
that election by party lists will help contain corruption in
the parliament. Bakiyev also announced that he was forming
his own political party, with the likely expectation that it
would gain a majority in a new parliament. So far, some
opposition figures have expressed only mild disagreement with
the proposed referendum, and many current MPs appear more
focused on gaining a place on a potential party list for
their political survival than on details of the constitution
draft or raising questions about the referendum procedure.

BISHKEK 00001187 002.2 OF 003


Our message should underscore that the new draft
constitution, the referendum, and early parliamentary
elections are internal Kyrgyz issues, but a balance of powers
and transparent process are the hallmarks of a democracy and
will determine Kyrgyzstan's reputation in the international
community.

Expectations for the Base


--------------------------





5. (C) Developments over the constitution and the prospect of
early parliamentary elections may have deflected public
attention from Manas Air Base for the short term; however,
President Bakiyev has refocused on the outstanding issues
concerning Manas Air Base. Security Council Secretary
Mamytov, Deputy Minister of Defense Oruzbayev, and Foreign
Policy Advisor Ryskulov have all raised the need to resolve
the outstanding issues (see Ref B), with Mamytov cryptically
noting "some time still remains" to resolve them. Parliament
was scheduled to hold committee hearings in September into
the September 2006 collision between a U.S. tanker aircraft
and a Kyrgyz passenger jet, but it appears that deputies are
too busy thinking about how to save their seats to worry
about the base. However, parliamentary elections may bring
some renewed public scrutiny, especially if deputies find it
useful to run against the base, as the one-year anniversary
of Mr. Ivanov's death approaches. The Kyrgyz are also
expecting to receive the results of the U.S. investigation
and disposition of the case of the December 2006 shooting of
Mr. Ivanov by U.S. airman. In June 2007, the Kyrgyz
government proposed changes to the July 2006 Protocol of
Intentions covering payment for access to, and use of, Manas
Air Base. The Kyrgyz have asked repeatedly when the U.S.
will send a team to Bishkek to discuss the proposed changes
and related issues.

Millennium Challenge


--------------------------





6. (SBU) In August, the Millennium Challenge Corporation
approved funding of Kyrgyzstan's Threshold Country Plan,
which aims to support reforms in the judiciary, the
procuracy, and law enforcement bodies. USAID, which will be
in charge of implementing the plan, has been negotiating with
the Kyrgyz over the terms of the final agreement. USAID is
confident that the agreement will be signed, and then
ratified by parliament, in the near term. Some Kyrgyz
officials continue to view MCC in terms of direct support to
the government. While we have explained repeatedly that the
Threshold Plan will not entail a transfer of funds to the
Kyrgyz government, successful implementation of the Plan
would help Kyrgyzstan improve its chances to become eligible
in the future for a full MCA compact.

What to Expect from Karabayev


--------------------------





7. (C) Karabayev is very pleased with the program and
meetings that have been set for him in Washington and New
York. His main objectives for this trip are fairly
straightforward: He wants to show that U.S.-Kyrgyz relations
are on a positive trajectory, and he wants to be able to
demonstrate to others in the Kyrgyz government that there are
tangible benefits for Kyrgyzstan to a strong bilateral
relationship with the U.S. Since Karabayev's appointment,
the Kyrgyz government appears to have made a strategic
decision that strong relations with the U.S. act as a
counterweight to pressure from China and Russia, but there
are many in the government who remain suspicious of us, our
motives, and our programs.



8. (C) Karabayev believes there are benefits to Kyrgyzstan of
a strong relationship with the U.S., and we know he has taken

BISHKEK 00001187 003.2 OF 003


criticism from some in the government for being an advocate
for the U.S. relationship. We consider him an ally -- and he
is ready to work with us -- but he won't roll over on issues
he does not believe are in Kyrgyzstan's best interests.
Karabayev is a supporter of the air base on a strategic
level. He will raise the need for the U.S. to provide
information on the Ivanov case and send a team to Bishkek to
discuss the June diplomatic note, but the Kyrgyz National
Security Council has the lead on most base-related issues.



9. (C) A former professor of history and vice rector of the
Slavonic University, Karabayev is an intellectual. He likes
big ideas and wide ranging discussions. With his rumpled
jacket, wavy hair, and affable demeanor, he can give the
impression of an absent-minded professor, but he's extremely
sharp -- and he can be pointed in his remarks, at times.



10. (C) Karabayev is also a Bakiyev loyalist, and, as such,
he is confident in his position as foreign minister and
expects to survive any cabinet reshuffles. Karabayev
believes that Kyrgyzstan is moving in the right direction on
a range of reforms. He sees the draft constitution as a
necessary step, because it will give the president the power
to get things done.



11. (C) In his meetings, Karabayev will seek ways to widen
the scope of U.S. financial and technical assistance to
Kyrgyzstan, but he won't always grasp our budget realities.
He will come with a slew of investment proposals, which he
plans to share also with the World Bank. Karabayev is also
concerned about setting the right tone in meetings.
Karabayev has told us, for example, that he hopes his meeting
at DOD can establish a positive trajectory following the June
2007 meeting between President Bakiyev and Secretary Gates.
Given the importance of personal relations in Central Asian
politics, Karabayev may seek an invitation for President
Bakiyev to Washington (or, alternatively, a visit by
President Bush to Bishkek) as a way to bolster the bilateral
relationship, but he has told us he would see how his
meetings are going before deciding whether to raise this
topic.
YOVANOVITCH