Kyrgyzstan has become the fifth member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), but its customs borders with Kazakhstan are likely to open by winter at the earliest. Minister of Economy of Kyrgyzstan Oleg Pankratov explains that the parliaments of the EEU member-countries have not yet ratified the documents that would confirm Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the economic alliance.
Besides, Kyrgyzstan has not yet fulfilled its commitments to the EEU, particularly, it has not improved the phytosanitary and veterinary control. Ashyrbay Zhusupov, an official representative of the Kyrgyz Inspectorate for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Safety, assures that all the necessary measures will be taken by June 10 and the EEU inspectors will make a fact-finding visit to Kyrgyzstan. Meat and dairy producing facilities will undergo a special control in view of livestock diseases regularly registered in the country. Meanwhile, the business community of Kyrgyzstan is extremely discontented at the protraction of the country’s final integration into the EEU, despite the objectively reasonable cause.
Experts say the protraction of the integration process may have extremely negative consequences for the Kyrgyz authorities.
Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of Ata-Meken (Fatherland) Socialist Party, says many Kyrgyzians have borrowed big loans from banks ahead of the country’s accession to the EEU to launch trade operations in the countries of the Union. So far, they cannot make any deals in the format of the EEU, meanwhile the interests on their borrowed funds grow. The way things are going, many businessmen may face bankruptcy.
“The current state of affairs confirms the statements that Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU was a political decision, and the country was not ready to it, though the EEU partners did everything possible to facilitate the integration process of Bishkek,” says Alexander Knyazev, an expert in the Central Asia and Middle East. Kazakhstan and Russia provided US$100 million and US$200 million to Kyrgyzstan for the necessary reforms and development of the checkpoints, respectively. Russia stands ready to invest US$1 billion in the joint investment fund, while Kazakhstan is negotiating with Kyrgyzstan establishment of a similar fund.
Alexander Knyazev says Moscow is ready for financial expenses for geopolitical purposes too – Russia has a military base in Kyrgyzstan and takes an interest in a number of industrial facilities. Another, maybe the most important reason, is that Russia still seeks to involve Tajikistan and Uzbekistan into the EEU. Kyrgyzstan’s successful accession to the EEU would have a positive impact on the Union’s image and would make it more attractive for the countries in the region that still keep aloof.
However, Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU is fraught with a number of serious threats to the Union. “A ‘grey zone’ will emerge in the Union – thousands of kilometers of Kyrgyzstan’s border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, including several dozens of disputable territories with protracted paramilitary conflicts. On top of all that, there is inexhaustible flow of contraband - cheap consumer goods from China – and much less harmless heroine from Afghanistan,” Knyazev says.
Attempts to remove these “shortcomings” and bring Kyrgyzstan in line with the required standards may trigger a wave of destabilization in that country, as too many people are engaged in cooperation with the Chinese border zone and they will hardly want to lose their incomes. As practice shows, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most uneasy countries in the post-Soviet area. And it is quite easy to organize active public processes there. Alexander Shustov, a political analyst, says there is another “potential generator” of instability in Kyrgyzstan. “The West is concerned over Eurasian integration of Kyrgyzstan. Besides, U.S. is very disappointed that it had to withdraw its Manas military base from Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, the West may try to use this complicate period of the country’s adjustment to the new conditions of the EEU,” Shustov says. A transitional period will negatively affect the general social-economic situation in the country, which will inevitably prompt protests. Along with the traditional energy crisis in the autumn-winter season in Kyrgyzstan, fertile ground for a new color revolution will be ready.
“A new opposition movement has emerged in Kyrgyzstan. Its leader, MP Ravshan Jeyenbekov is said to visit the Maidan in Kiev. Having a negative experience of two state coups – in 2005 and 2010 - Kyrgyzstan may face such a risk again,” Shustov said.