Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 13:00h – 14:30h
Venue: EastWest Institute, Rue de Trèves 59-61, 1040 Brussels

Kyrgyzstan is still considered the only country in Central Asia—and indeed almost in the entire post-Soviet area (except the Baltic states)—which began to establish democratic structures after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its independence in 1991. As part of previous and more efficient administrative reforms, the country did not only boldly abolish the administrative county level and develop a dual national budget. The Kyrgyz government also created municipalities that hold free elections every four years. On the national level, democratic institutions recognize the importance of local self-governance. 2019 will open the next phase of administrative reforms aiming at creating stronger, more efficient, communitybased administrative structures through the merger of counties and municipalities. Of course both, Kyrgyz democracy and local self-government are still developing and need to be taken care of.

Now, what role does the European Union play in this reform process? Negotiations between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic began in 2017 to modernise their bilateral agreement. Additionally, the EU discussed a new Central Asian strategy in meetings with its five partner countries (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) in November 2018. Before this background, the EU needs to implement projects to show its support for the democratic path of Kyrgyzstan, which include programmes to strengthen municipal self-governance as well as local infrastructure. Through national and European measures, Kyrgyz citizens will be able to better recognize the benefits of living in a democratic and local self-governing state.

H.E. Mirlan Bakirov, Vice Speaker of the National Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, will deliver his views on the role of his country as pioneer in the region for democracy and local selfgovernment. He will then exchange with European representatives on current and future developments. We cordially invite you to join this debate.

Click here to download the event program.

Image credit: Pixelchrome Inc/Getty Images