The EU and the Kyrgyz Republic have been partners since the country gained its independence in 1991. Over the years, relations between both sides have flourished.
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The political foundations for the EU’s partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic lie in the 1999 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).
This agreement aims at strengthening the links between the Kyrgyz Republic and the EU.
The Kyrgyz Republic is a partner in the European Union and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership in Action.
The June 2015 Council conclusions on the above EU Strategy for Central Asia highlight the strategic importance of Central Asia for the EU.
The review also calls on leaders to build a strong, durable and stable relationship with Central Asian countries.
Economic activity between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic is on the rise. Annual trade is estimated at approximately €478 million.
This rise is largely down to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 1999.
But the European Union and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership in Action is another spur for economic growth as cooperation in trade and investment is one of the strategy’s key targets.
The EU also provides funds to various projects in the regions and nationally.
The Kyrgyz Republic benefits from the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). The GSP gives preferential access to its market to developing countries and territories.
Furthermore, the EU’s January 2016 decision to grant GSP+ status to the Kyrgyz Republic will allow the country to diversify its exports and strengthen its economy.
The Kyrgyz Republic has been a member of the WTO since 1998.
The special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) provides additional tariff preferences to developing countries which are vulnerable due to a lack of diversification and insufficient integration within the international trading system, when exporting to the European Union (EU). The GSP+ scheme supports these countries in assuming the special burdens and responsibilities resulting from the ratification of 27 core international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance as well as from their effective implementation.
Following the submission of its application for GSP+ treatment in May 2015, the GSP+ status was granted to the Kyrgyz Republic by the European Union in January 2016 because Kyrgyzstan is to be considered vulnerable according to the GSP Regulation and has ratified all 27 international conventions .
The GSP+ status allows the Kyrgyz Republic to strengthen its economy by exporting 6200 products to the European Union without any tariffs/with no tax duties regime. To benefit from GSP+, a product must either be wholly obtained in the Kyrgyz Republic, or must have undergone sufficient manufacturing, working or processing in the Kyrgyz Republic.
As a GSP+ beneficiary, Kyrgyzstan is under a legal obligation to maintain the ratification of the 27 conventions and to ensure their effective implementation. Kyrgyzstan’s performance in this regard is subject to an enhanced monitoring mechanism by the EU side. The monitoring mechanism makes use of several tools. The first is the "scorecard", a table summarising the salient shortcomings of the country in the implementation of the conventions. Secondly, the Commission establishes a "dialogue on GSP+ compliance" with Kyrgyzstan, drawing its attention to the areas identified in the scorecard. The results thereof will be included in the report on the compliance of GSP+ beneficiaries with the relevant criteria that the Commission has to transmit to the European Parliament and the European Council every two years.
Additional information regarding the Generalised Scheme of Preferences may be found here.
For additional information on the certification criteria, phytosanitary and rules of origins requirements which products have to fulfil for export to the EU, please visit the website of the HelpDesk of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission: http://exporthelp.europa.eu/thdapp/index.htm
For information on how to export goods to a particular Member State of the European Union, please consider contacting its Embassy accredited to the Kyrgyz Republic. The full list of the Embassies of the EU Member States may be found here.
In addition, the EU Delegation of the EU to the Kyrgyz Republic will organize a series of videoconferences with the participation of experts from the EU side to facilitate the implementation of the GSP+ status by the Kyrgyz Republic.
Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic may also contact the call center of the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic by a short phone number: 1220.
The European Union is currently providing budget support through three Sector Reform Contracts (SRCs) with the Kyrgyz Republic: Education (EUR 36 million), Social Protection (EUR 30 million), and Electoral Reform (EUR 13 million). The EU also funded a EUR 30 million Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme for which the last disbursement was made in 2016.
An ongoing EUR 9.5 million Rule of Law (RoL) programme implemented by a consortium of Member State agencies led by GIZ addresses the priorities in one of the three focal sectors for 2014-2020, the RoL.
While Education mainly is addressed through the SRC, the third focal sector, Integrated Rural Development (IRD), covers also the SRC for social protection phase-out budget support and rural infrastructure projects.
Rural infrastructure projects included the construction of a 15 km section of the Osh-Isfana road corridor in the Batken region which was official inaugurated in 2016. Due to the significance of the budget support portfolio, the Delegation is also giving priority to the enhancement of Public Finance Management (PFM), including through a World Bank administered Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
Two regional flagship programmes are managed by the EU Delegation in Bishkek, BOMCA and CADAP. The Delegation also manages the largest portfolio of devolved IFCA projects totalling some EUR 25 million at the end of 2015 (29% of total CA region) in grants to blending projects with ERBD, EIB and KfW. The blending projects in Kyrgyzstan address regional priorities including infrastructure for waste management and water supply, mostly in urban areas, and energy efficiency.
In total the EU disbursed some EUR 34.5 million in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2016 out of which EUR 24.25 million was budget support (SRCs and MFA).
In addition to its involvement in two blending operations, the EIB is also providing a EUR 70 million loan to the Kyrgyz Republic for the four country CASA-1000 energy infrastructure project and a EUR 10 million loan as part of the MFA.
The Annual Action Programme (AAP) 2016 includes a new EUR 13 million RoL programme and a EUR 10 million IRD programme focused on income generating activities. The programmes are to be implemented by GIZ.
Despite the recent political instability in the Kyrgyz Republic, civil society actors have been active in promoting human rights and freedom of speech. The EU is committed to strengthening the role of civil society by encouraging non state actors to become involved in the process.
In 2007, the European Commission launched a programme called Non State Actors and Local Authorities in Development. This is a capacity building programme that is looking at getting local councils and non state actors involved in development.
An important instrument that the EU uses to promote civil society and human rights is the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
The main objectives of the EIDHR are to:
Kyrgyzstan is frequently affected by natural disasters that have a strong impact on the population, livelihoods and national economy. The country’s territory is exposed to a variety of natural hazards, and in recent years the rising temperatures due to climate change are exacerbating the impact of climate-related disasters. Mudslides are frequent and dangerous, causing widespread human and material damage: some 5 000 potential active landslide sites have been identified in the country, and from 1990 to 2008 some 425 landslides were registered across the country, with 88 people killed.
Lying in a region with high to very high seismic hazards, earthquakes are also common across Kyrgyzstan, with the two largest cities Bishkek and Osh at risk. Most recently, in November 2015, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Osh oblast damaged over 3 000 houses and 109 public facilities, including schools and medical centres. ECHO, the EC's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, responded with emergency funds to support the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society in the provision of immediate relief to the affected communities.
The largest ECHO humanitarian intervention in the country, however, took place after the ethnic violence in Southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010 that led to the death of some 1 000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of families, after which ECHO made €8.5 million available. The funds were used to provide conflict-affected people with food, shelter and non-food items (NFI).
Since 1994, ECHO has delivered approximately €33.5 million in humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan, including €8.5 million of funding for emergency responses to the major ethnic conflict-induced displacement in South Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
Since 2003, ECHO has been mainly intervening in Kyrgyzstan through its international disaster preparedness programme popularly known as DIPECHO, focusing on a community-based approach and working with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, as well as partners from the non-governmental organisation (NGO) community, United Nations family, and the Red Cross and Crescent Societies.
DIPECHO-funded projects increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability of local communities and institutions by supporting strategies which enable them to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters. Through the current DIPECHO cycle (2016-2017), ECHO is funding five projects implemented by NGOs and UN agencies. The projects focus on consolidation and institutionalisation of past achievements in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as well as following an integrated DRR Resilience approach and strengthening the DRR capacities of the governments in Central Asia, with a particular focus on Kyrgyzstan. The total funding for DIPECHO IX is €5.8 million (jointly with funding for Southern Caucasus), of which about €0.6 million are used in Kyrgyzstan, the second largest recipient of DIPECHO funds in the Central Asia region.
Please also see the above section on political relations.
The EU Strategy for Central Asia recognises that human rights, rule of law, good governance and democratisation underpin the long-term political stability and economic development of Central Asia.
The strategy also includes plans for human rights dialogue with all five Central Asian countries. This dialogue is vital for:
The EU held its first structured dialogue on human rights with the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek in October 2008. Further dialogue has been held since then.
The EU also organises various civil society seminars, attracting people from the community of human rights experts.
Various so-called ‘assistance projects’ are managed by the Commission and different EU countries. These include the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, and the Non State Actors Programme, which also support the development of civil society.
Human rights focal point and liaison officer for human rights defenders at the Delegation of the European Union is Nicola Scaramuzzo.