Kyrgyzstan. During the winter, Kyrgyzstan was haunted by
a severe energy crisis. Neighboring Uzbekistan had suspended
gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan as pressure to get through its
territorial requirements in a border dispute between the two
countries. Kyrgyzstan, for its part, prevented water
supplies to Uzbekistan.
Gas and water deliveries resumed in February, but the
border dispute remained unresolved. During the summer, the
Kyrgyz parliament decided on a law that classifies water as
a commodity, and the government in the mountainous and
water-rich country threatened to levy fees from the
neighboring states for the water flowing down to the plains.
Uzbekistan with its water-thirsty cotton crops reacted
strongly and resumed gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan. Formally,
the reason was stated that Kyrgyzstan did not fulfill its
electricity supply agreement and did not pay its debts.
Countryaah, the OSCE President visited Kyrgyzstan in June and called
for stronger measures in the direction of democracy. The
OSCE considered that last year's parliamentary elections did
not go right to and after the election, an opposition leader
had been imprisoned. Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Minister responded
with a call to the international community to address the
security threat posed by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The same month, a military court in the city of Osh
sentenced two men to death accused of participating in
guerrilla raids from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan. Such raids
have been carried out for several years by armed Islamists,
trained by Taliban and by Usama bin Laden's terrorist
network. When such terrorist attacks occurred in the United
States in September, President Askar Akajev was quick to
open Kyrgyzstan's airspace for US military aviation in the
war against bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban regime. At the
OSCE Council meeting in Vienna the same month, he noted that
Kyrgyzstan has long urged precisely the fight against
international terrorism that is now taking shape.
In the autumn, President Akaiev sought to take advantage
of the West's new interest in Central Asia by initiating
deregulations that could attract foreign investment to
former state operations. Kyrgyzstan's economy has stagnated;
foreign debt and unemployment are high and the country is
heavily dependent on international aid. However, during the
year it was announced that a Canadian company had found oil
in Kyrgyzstan and that the discovery could make the country
self-sufficient in oil for a couple of decades.