Successful Pilot Courses in Kyrgyzstan

On 7 April 2010, about 80 people died in Bishkek during violent protests against the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiev. The president resigned and fled the country. An interim government led by Roza Otunbaeva is now trying to restore order. A month before this upheaval began, CESS, with the support of the UK Embassy in Kazakhstan and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized two pilot courses, based on the Starlink formula, for Kyrgyz government and civil society representatives. The first course was held from 10 till 12 March. It discussed how to deal effectively and democratically with organised crime and terrorism. For this endeavour, we were joined by Jürgen Bernbeck, a retired chief inspector of police from Germany, and Matt Ford, the advisor on anti-terrorism issues from the OSCE Centre in Bishkek.

The course was dominated by lively and sometimes heated discussions between representatives of civil society and government, which at the end of the day proved to be quite constructive. The week after that, the second course entitled Responding effectively and democratically to crises and disasters was held from 15 till 17 March. For this course, we recruited participants from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Emergencies, as well as from Parliament as and civil society. Karen Engel from the COT Institute for Security and Crisis Management provided very practical information on interagency cooperation, public communication and societal engagement. Bauke Snoep dealt with the issue of fighting security challenges and reviewed fundamentals and best practices. Furthermore, he led the role-play, which was very lively and much appreciated by the trainees. During the concluding ceremony the instructors were surprised and pleased when the participants gave them traditional Kyrgyz hats as a token of their appreciation. For the moment, our focus is on monitoring the current situation in Kyrgyzstan, which we hope will stabilise soon. CESS, together with its sponsors, continues to look for possibilities to assist Kyrgyzstan in its efforts to become more effective and democratic. We hope to return to the country later this year.

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