I want to say first of all thank you to the Osh Press Center for hosting us.
Today we’re very happy to have with us Dan Rosenblum who is the Coordinator for U.S. Assistance for Europe and Eurasia. I will introduce Dan in a moment, after which he will give a statement followed by your questions.
As I mentioned, Daniel Rosenblum is the Coordinator for U.S. Assistance for Europe and Eurasia. In this capacity he oversees assistance for the entire region, Europe and Eurasia. Both in terms of economic assistance, but also democratic, security and humanitarian assistance. Mr. Rosenblum coordinates the programs of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies and State Department bureaus, and he designs assistance strategies that support foreign policy goals such as our programs for reconstruction and reconciliation in this region.
We’re very honored to have Dan with us today.
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: Thank you, Christian. Thank you very much. Also I’m glad to be here today with all of you in Osh. This is not my first visit to Osh, but it is my first visit since the events of April 7th.
I came to the Kyrgyz Republic this week to head the U.S. delegation to the International Donor Conference that took place yesterday in Bishkek. The meeting was co-chaired by the government of the Kyrgyz Republic, the First Deputy Prime Minister Moralyev, and The World Bank. President Otunbayeva was present at the meeting the entire day. Many countries and international organizations came to pledge their support for the goals of the conference. The goals of the conference were expressed in this joint assessment that was prepared in advance -- reconciliation, recovery, and reconstruction.
As was already reported in the media, the total amount of pledges by all countries and organizations was $1.1 billion. That’s over a period of 2.5 years, 30 months.
The United States pledged new resources at the conference totaling $48.6 million. That pledge included three kinds of aid. First, humanitarian aid directed at helping displaced persons in the south, in the southern regions of the Kyrgyz Republic. That includes aid with shelter, with food, and with other needs of these persons who were affected by the violence in June.
The second category of aid within that new pledge are projects that are attempting to help people restore economic opportunities. Also to improve local conditions at the community level, local infrastructure, local services in communities all over the Kyrgyz Republic.
The third category which is the smallest in dollar terms, is support for democratic processes going on now including the parliamentary election scheduled for October.
I also want to add that there’s a component of that aid that’s related to the harvest of crops this fall, to help ensure that all the food is able to be harvested by providing fuel and other supplies to farmers.
Today I came here with a group of my colleagues to Osh in order to see for ourselves the consequences, the results of the violence, the tragic violence that occurred here in early June.
After having seen some of the destruction in the city, I want to express my sorrow and sadness and my sympathy to the families who had loved ones killed or beaten.
Finally, I want to stress four priorities for the United States, from our standpoint, in terms of the next few months and the next couple of years with respect to our cooperation in the Kyrgyz republic. I think before I tell you the four, I think I should say that I think these priorities are shared by many other donors who I spoke with at the conference yesterday in Bishkek. The first two are the most urgent, and they’re both urgent now.
Humanitarian needs. People’s basic needs for food and shelter must be met, and especially in view of the winter approaching in a few months. We’re concerned that these needs be met.
During the conference the United States and many other donors stressed the importance of providing humanitarian aid and doing it consistent with international principles of humanitarian aid. Those principles include that no one who’s a recipient of that assistance, of that humanitarian aid, be involuntarily resettled; that is, forced to move to another place away from their home.
Another important principle is equal treatment for all victims, for all those in need, regardless of their ethnicity.
The second priority is security. People have to feel a sense that they’re free from fear, that they’re not under threat of being attacked. The security services must fulfill their responsibilities in a professional and accountable way. And the protection of the law, of the legal organs, have to be provided to all communities, again, regardless of ethnicity.
As you know, the United States has strongly supported the OSCE Police Advisory Group which was requested and supported by the government as well, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic, for exactly this reason, that is to ensure that this level of security can be provided.
The third priority is reconciliation, again, one of the themes of the conference yesterday. I think everyone that I’ve spoken to both in Bishkek and here in Osh have agreed that people need to find a way to live together peacefully. But we all understand that will take time. That’s a longer process that can’t happen right away.
As part of that process the United States has also supported the investigation of the events of early June. Both the investigation that the government has announced it will carry out, and in parallel the international investigation that is being organized by a Finnish parliamentarian.
Finally, the last priority is -- not last because it’s not important, but just maybe last in time -- is the process of reconstruction and economic recovery. That will require a concerted effort by the government, by private business, and by international donors helping in various ways to restore economic activity, to rebuild infrastructure, and to restore trade as well.
Let me stop there and take your questions.
QUESTION: Let’s take the OSCE police mission made its investigation and came up with its report. Don’t you think that this report may make more intense the situation here?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: First of all, I think there are two things being combined in your question. The OSCE police mission is not going to be here to do an investigation. That mission is coming for the purpose of providing advice and support and training for police here in Kyrgyzstan, for local police. They won’t be writing a report, conducting an investigation or interviewing people. That’s not their purpose.
QUESTION: Can I rephrase my question? The arrival of the OSCE police. Don’t you think it will raise tensions?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: We believe, and the government, the provisional government and President Otunbayeva seem to believe that this police mission will help over time to actually provide a sense of confidence and less tension because people will have more confidence in the ability of the police to carry out their functions. So we believe that it will actually lower tensions over time once it’s working.
QUESTION: Again, related to this police mission, many international donor organizations, human rights organizations, made aggressive statements towards Kyrgyz. Do you think that these international organizations may change their minds? Otherwise, the presence or the statements may again intensify the tension.
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: I can’t speak on behalf of other organizations, international human rights organizations or anyone else. You’d have to address a question to them specifically. All I can say is that there’s a need for reconciliation. There’s a need for reconstruction here in this region. Some of that can be helped, we believe, by international organizations being involved. We have experience in other parts of the world, and even here in Kyrgyzstan working with other international organizations.
QUESTION: The reconstruction, recovery of the city in the post-conflict period, it needs special experience. Specifically it needs to be done by organizations that have experience in rebuilding or building houses in the conflict zones. Do you agree, since the last priority you just mentioned was the reconstruction situation?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: I do agree that organizations with experience in building, rebuilding and so on in conflict zones are appropriate to work here. And we actually have some of those organizations already working here under the auspices of the United Nations. I would add, though, that there’s a distinction between rebuilding and providing shelter for humanitarian purposes and longer term reconstruction and revitalization, let’s say, of the city.
At the donor conference yesterday the government presented various plans, and the World Bank as well, presented plans for major infrastructure improvement in Osh, in Jalalabad, and in other parts of the country too. Many of the donors pledged support for those projects. But we all recognize that those are longer term projects. Again, to come back to what I said in the statement earlier, there are urgent needs to rebuild basic shelter for people who don’t have shelter with the winter approaching.
QUESTION: Going back to OSCE police mission, probably you’ve heard that the day before yesterday there was a big protestation here in Osh as well as in Bishkek protesting against the arrival of OSCE police mission. After these protests will you still continue supporting the OSCE mission here?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: We strongly support the right of citizens of Kyrgyzstan to express their opposition to government decisions and to protest policies. That’s democracy. That’s the bedrock of democracy. Nevertheless, we still believe, as I said earlier, that this police mission which was supported by the 52 member states of the OSCE including the Kyrgyz Republic is a good thing, that it will help not hurt the process of reconciliation and preventing conflict in this region.
QUESTION: I just want to follow up on the same question, the OSCE police issue. Kyrgyz people here feel strongly against the OSCE mission and they come up with a pretty strong statement and kind of ultimatums saying that if the OSCE, that they will be standing strong against the arrival of the OSCE police mission and if they arrive they will stand back against it, and if the interim or central government keeps supporting this mission they will demand this government to resign. Knowing this, again, what is your position on this? Are you going to still support this?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: For the reasons that I gave earlier, we do believe, we do think that this mission is, that it will be beneficial. I think maybe there needs to be better information about the goals and purposes of the mission and that’s obviously the responsibility of the OSCE. We will encourage them to provide more better information to people about its purposes. I think it’s possible there is some misunderstanding about it. But nevertheless, we stand behind it.
Let me just add one other thing, responding to this gentleman’s question but also the other questions on this subject. That is that we have heard ourselves here today and we’ve also heard many many reports from others that there’s what I would call a crisis of confidence in the police here in Osh and in other parts of the southern region. There’s a breakdown of the trust that needs to exist between citizens and the law enforcement bodies. We believe this is a good way of over time restoring that trust.
QUESTION: Again, just to follow the same question, I just want to rephrase it. You say you strongly believe that the OSCE mission will help to calm down the situation, to decrease the tension, but the people in Yugoslavia, Abkhazia, North Ossetia, they also had the same belief but we all know what happened after these missions departed from the country. So if something like that happens in Kyrgyzstan, say Kyrgyzstan was (inaudible) as a result of international police mission, are you ready to take responsibility for this? Or are you ready to take some measures?
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: Every country and every situation has its own unique aspects and has to be dealt with on its own terms. In the case that we’re talking about now where the mission that’s being spoken of will involve approximately 50 unarmed police advisors who will be paired with local police who are already here. So I don’t think it’s comparable to many of the other situations that you described.
CHRISTIAN WRIGHT: I want to thank everyone for coming today. We really appreciate your having come today and having listened and for your questions.
DANIEL ROSENBLUM: Thank you.