Turkey spearheads international aid to strife-torn Kyrgyzstan

Turkey has said its efforts in urging international organizations and neighboring »»
Turkey has said its efforts in urging international organizations and neighboring countries to help re-establish stability in ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan after nearly a week of brutal violence have been significant.

“A joint action plan to deal with the Kyrgyz incidents is underway with Kazakhstan. I will be in Kazakhstan on Sunday and in light of a report that our delegations will prepare [we will take action for Kyrgyzstan]. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] and United Nations delegations are also in Kyrgyzstan. Turkey has played an active role in dispatching them to the region,” said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as he spoke before deputies in the Turkish Parliament on Wednesday.

Davutoğlu said they will act on behalf of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the OSCE once reports are ready. Turkey and Kazakhstan are chairing the rotating term presidencies of CICA and the OSCE, respectively, this year.

The foreign minister said they will launch a comprehensive action plan to adequately deal with Kyrgyzstan’s civil strife. Davutoğlu said only one Turkish national was wounded during the fierce fighting and they know of no single Turkish citizen left there as they keep track of their nationals by name.

Noting that they fastidiously work to remain neutral in regional conflicts, the foreign minister said they attach importance to a solution to such conflicts in Central Asia. Turkey’s primary concern regarding the clashes, Davutoğlu said, is to prevent a possible split of the country into two separate states. He said they are constantly in touch with the interim government and are encouraging the government to hold a referendum to make their authority more legitimate.

Some Turkish relief organizations, including the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), sent several cargo planes carrying humanitarian assistance for impoverished people in Jalal-Abad and Osh, the epicenter of ethnic violence that has driven much of the Uzbek population from the country’s poor, rural south.

Turkey also dispatched its special envoy, Fatih Ceylan, to Kyrgyzstan, who met with the head of interim government, Rosa Otunbayeva, and Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atanbayev late on Wednesday. Ceylan and the accompanying delegation will continue talks until Friday. Speaking to reporters at the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek on Wednesday, Ceylan said Turkey will provide necessary assistance to Kyrgyzstan upon their request for necessary technical and humanitarian aid after days of fighting between two ethnic groups that forced tens of thousands to flee.

The US has already allocated $10.3 million for humanitarian aid, the US embassy in Bishkek said on Wednesday. Ceylan said Turkey clearly stated that it wants to see the former Soviet republic coexist with its neighbors in peace and stability.

Noting that the reason for his visit is to listen to the needs of Kyrgyz authorities, with respect to ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan, Ceylan said he conveyed Turkey’s condolences to the Kyrgyz authorities and assured them that Turkey will always stand by Kyrgyzstan. Ceylan said he also met with Kyrgyz Interior Minister Bolot Sher and Deputy Defense Minister Kubanychbek Orozbayev. “We discussed what we can do for Kyrgyzstan as Turkey,” Ceylan said. Ceylan said local authorities separately requested assistance from Turkey and that Turkey will evaluate these requests and “do its best to help Kyrgyzstan.”

The leader of Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek community said the death toll among Uzbeks exceeded 300. The official toll on both sides is 189, although officials have acknowledged that actual number is likely to be far higher. The ambassador also said they have evacuated all Turks living in Osh, including five Turkish nationals working as 18-wheeler drivers who were moved to Bishkek.



Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN