Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Transcript of Kyrgyz presidential debate

(Corr) Kyrgyz presidential candidates' TV debate - full report

Jul 04, 2005 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) --

[Presenter in Kyrgyz] Good evening, dear TV viewers. We will begin the first live TV debate of Kyrgyz presidential candidates on the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation. Presidential candidates Toktayym Umetaliyeva [leader of the Association of nongovernmental and noncommercial organizations] and Dzhypar Dzheksheyev [leader of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan party] will take part in today's TV debate.

[Passage omitted: repeat in Russian; the candidates' brief biographies] [Presenter] In accordance with the results of a lot drawn to decide who will speak first, we welcome Dzhypar Dzheksheyev. The topic of today's debate is the redistribution of property in the country. Above all, I want to ask you a very brief question if it is really necessary to review the privatization results? You have one minute to answer this question.

[Dzheksheyev] I think that the 24 March people's revolution is not an accidental phenomenon. It was the redistribution of property and illegal privatization that caused it. Therefore, everything that was illegally privatized is subject to review and everything which was privatized legally should not be reviewed. Re-privatization should not be an end in itself. This concerns only one thing - we should restore justice.

[Presenter] Thanks. Toktayym Umetaliyeva, you can also express your view. [Umetaliyeva] I think that it is practically impossible to say Yes or No to this question at once. We should go back and consider how the privatization was carried out in order to answer this question. I believe that above all, we should be guided by the Kyrgyz Republic's Constitution which declared the right for private property. It is a different matter whether the process of privatization has ended. The first stage of the privatization started in 1991-1994. Houses were privatized in the private sector. The second phase was in 1994-1997. Medium-size facilities were privatized during this time. The very important year was 1998. We adopted a resolution privatizing farmland at that time. We also started restructuring strategic facilities. There should be a special approach to each case. Social facilities and medium-size industrial facilities which were bought by people and which are still used in a wrong way may be re-privatized. [Presenter] Do you consider it necessary to review these facilities or should they remain unchanged? [Umetaliyeva] It is wrong to say that they should be reviewed or not reviewed. Therefore, first of all, we should look into how the privatization was carried out. This should be done in three stages. [Presenter] Your time has run out. Dear TV viewers, prior to the beginning of our programme, we polled the experts and guests who are taking part in today's debate on this issue. According to the poll results, 82 per cent of these people think that the privatization should be reviewed and 18 per cent of them think that the privatization should not be reviewed. As far as I understood, Dzhypar Dzheksheyev says that it should be reviewed, whereas Toktayym Umetaliyeva says that everything should remain unchanged. So, dear TV viewers, Dzhypar Dzheksheyev's idea matches 100 per cent that of the audience. However, Toktayym Umetaliyeva's view differs slightly. Now, I will give the floor to Dzhypar Dzheksheyev. [Passage omitted: procedure for entering into a debate with the audience]

[Dzheksheyev] I think the number one task in my programme is to build a people's state, i.e. all the actions of the authorities - the president, the government and parliament - should be under the civil society's, people's control. I therefore suggest that a special law on the people's congress be adopted. The most objective, honest and morally decent Kyrgyz citizens from each village and each town should be elected to this people's congress so that every year they could set the president, parliament and government the specific tasks that worry them, so that they really become the possessors of power as is written in our constitution. The constitution says the people are the source of power. In reality the people take part in forming the government once every five years during parliamentary and presidential elections. At other times nobody hears or sees you [people]. You are left on your own with your problems. I, therefore, think that the people should take control of all the authorities' actions and they [the authorities] should be answerable to the people. This is a fundamentally new approach. This is my main task.

[Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev insists on revising unlawfully privatized facilities; Umetaliyeva insists on taking a cautious approach to this issue]

[Question by a police officer through a video link from the southern town of Osh] I am a police officer from the Osh regional police department. My surname is Teshebayev. My question is about providing logistical support to police officers. Police officers receive salaries equal to a [monthly] minimum wage. They are not provided with vehicles and communications equipment in full. Ward police officers especially in villages do not have their own offices and communications equipment to maintain public order. My second question is about the social provision of police officers. Nurlan Sadiyev [a police officer from Osh; died in a grenade attack] died while performing his duties in 2004. His family has still not received compensation. How you will resolve these issues if you are elected as president in the future?

[Question] My surname is Ashyrbayev. My question is about laws on law-enforcement agencies. As for laws on regulating business enterprise, we still apply enactments of the former Soviet laws. [Dzheksheyev] There are economic reforms and tax reforms. According to our estimates, if the reforms are carried out successfully we may increase wages and pensions by 100 per cent. [Umetaliyeva] The system of law-enforcement agencies needs reforming. We have started reforming the Interior Ministry. I have taken part in advancing a project to provide support to the Interior Ministry. We have received 3.5m euros through an OSCE project. This money should go to equip and support [the police]. However, I think that it is necessary to cut the number of [police] personnel and raise their professional skills. Accordingly, we may also increase salaries through this project. I think that in this regard, the power-wielding structures should be restructured and reformed and salaries should be increased by cutting [the number of law-enforcement personnel] and transferring them [police officers] to the [jurisdiction of] municipal sector.

[Question] My name is Sveta Iskaharova Volodina. I want to ask both presidential candidates a question. You know, our country has a land code which says all mineral resources belong to the state. [Break in reception].

[Dzheksheyev] Anything that belongs to the people should not be taken away. Their property should remain intact. There is no need to raise this issue. What matters is a different thing - cases of dubious people using and leasing very large land areas - several hundred hectares, dozens of hectares. I encountered these cases when I was the chairman of the state commission in charge of settling issues connected with the seizure of land plots [in Bishkek in March 2005]. These people have not even paid taxes over the past 15 years. Such dubious land plots should be reconsidered because their actual owners are on the seventh floor [presidential administration is on this floor] at Government House. [Presenter] Specifically, are you speaking about today's Government House or yesterday's [Akayev's government] or this does not make any difference? [Dzheksheyev] This does not make any difference. All those who were at Government House yesterday are continuing to work there today. Therefore this does not make any difference. [Passage omitted: a joint commission comprised of civil society activists and state officials should be set up to check land plots]

[Question by an unknown man] I want to ask both candidates a question. Organized criminal groups are increasingly taking an active part in the redistribution of private property. How would you stop this if you come to power?

[Dzheksheyev] We have seen that state officials maintain very good relations with leaders of criminal groups. If we, the authorities, arrest a criminal group and maintain order on our own without cooperating with criminal groups, there will be no scandal, dispute, or bloodshed over the distribution of private property as today. Above all, we should stop corruption among the authorities in our state. Currently criminal groups are interwoven with the authorities. [Presenter] Which authorities, the previous or the current ones? [Dzheksheyev] I want to reiterate that from 70 to 80 per cent of the former authorities [who worked in ousted President Askar Akayev's government] remain among the current authorities. Therefore this does not make any difference. [Passage omitted: repeat]

[Volodina, a woman attending the TV debate] I would like to know your opinion. Why should agricultural producers have to pay VAT for milk and bread?

[Dzheksheyev] You have raised a very topical issue. We should abolish VAT. What you are saying is unfair. You should not pay it. This is an unfair tax. [Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev repeats his answer in Kyrgyz]

[Question by an unknown man] If we talk about Central Asian states, they have specific state policies towards us. What can you say about Kyrgyzstan's specific priorities in its foreign policy? What should our main focus be?

[Dzheksheyev] Traditionally, we have for centuries been connected with Russia and other neighbouring countries. From the economic point of view, we have to cooperate with these countries and it is profitable for us to cooperate with them. As for democratic values, we should take them from democratically advanced countries. I think these are two criteria [to be followed]. [Presenter] Thank you. You [Umetaliyeva] may or may not answer this question. [Umetaliyeva] The process of integration between Central Asian countries in the light of geopolitical processes is very important. Since the change of the ruling elite has started [in Kyrgyzstan], it is important that the change of the ruling elite pass smoothly in each country [in the region]. Otherwise, any possible danger to other country may affect us too. [Passage omitted: a short video report about the Meerim charity foundation which was headed by the former president's wife, Mayram Akayeva] [Presenter] Please comment on the report, then we will have another ad. Dzhypar Dzheksheyev speaks: [Dzheksheyev] There are about 2,000 foundations in Kyrgyzstan. All foundations including the Meerim foundation should have equal rights and operate under equal conditions. [Passage omitted: allegations about the foundation] [Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev and Umetaliyeva say educational centres of the foundation in regions should be preserved for the sake of children] [Presenter] We still have time left before the ad. Please, your final address to the voters and remember how much time you have left. [Passage omitted: another presenter repeats his colleague]

[Dzheksheyev] Dear voters, I want to appeal to you all that we should not forget that the coming presidential elections are decisive for the future development of Kyrgyzstan. We are today at a crossroads. The future of our children and the future of our country depend on how you will chose [a future president], how you will take part [in the presidential elections] and how you will succeed in protecting [your votes] so that the authorities do not steal your votes as before. Therefore, we all should remember one thing that we should be active citizens of our country. Our indifference and devil-may-care attitude and the principle it has nothing to do with me will destroy us. This attitude will allow the authorities - whoever they may be - to abuse and manipulate your votes and garner the required number of votes to push through their own people. We have already encountered violations during the present new authorities too. The full official backing is being given to one candidate. There should be nothing like this. We should draw the appropriate correct conclusions and learn a correct lesson from the past in order not to repeat what happened on 24 March [former President Askar Akayev was ousted and major shopping centres were looted in Bishkek]. We should live in peace so that people should not go to streets to rally. Of course, we could not familiarize the voters with our programme properly over a short time, because a question was asked in specific context and we had to answer it. We should just think: what have you been doing over the [past] 15 years? What position have you been holding? Did you tell Akayev the truth or sat in your office quietly and are becoming a hero today? Or have you been fighting this disgrace and mess all these years? [Passage omitted: A man cannot change over a short time]

We should not commend them [the authorities]. We should criticize them. We should openly tell them all the truth in order not to repeat the mistake which Akayev made. After all, we applauded even if he was not right 100 per cent. We always supported him even when we knew that he was not right. Our connivance corrupts any authorities. Let us agree once and forever to learn to be free citizens of a free democratic country. Only by becoming possessors, by not fearing anybody but God and by not violating laws can we in fact build a normal international state which will protect human rights. The authorities should feel that they should not give orders to us. They should serve people. They should be answerable to people. They should be under society's control. [Passage omitted: Umetaliyeva addresses Bakiyev asking him to have an open TV debate with her]

[Umetaliyeva] Dear compatriots - men and women, I think women account for the poorest part of our population. There cannot be either equality or democracy or development in a country where women have to bear the enormous burden of poverty. I urge you to cast your votes on 10 July for those who are fighting for the interests of the family in order to take our women out of poverty. Strong families make a strong country. Let's fight for the interests of a mother. I think that people will make their choice. Before casting your votes think to whom you would give your child, since values of the family and children should be foremost in the state's ideas.

[Passage omitted: Umetaliyeva calls on people to turn out in the election day] [Umetaliyeva] Please turn out for the elections to ensure fair elections and so that we all wake up in peace on 11 [July]. There will not be fair elections if you do not turn out. This means there will be no peace and independence in Kyrgyzstan and the country will not be able to develop. I will wait for all of you in the big elections on 10 July. [Passage omitted: ad; good wishes to the presidential candidates]

Source: Kyrgyz Television first channel, Bishkek, in Kyrgyz, Russian 1430 gmt 4 Jul 05

BBC Mon CAU 050705 abm/sa/ta/mk/atd

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.


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