Otunbayeva: The people are not interested in revolutions

March 6, 2013, 06:00

The ex-president is convinced that society is not predisposed to solve problems through the use of force, but the opposition will push them into the streets.

The former head of state told Azattyk in an interview about her view of the current social and political situation, geopolitical climate surrounding Kyrgyzstan and answered question about the activities of the foundation she founded, the “Roza Otunbayeva Initiative”.

Kyrgyzstan’s problem is poverty.

Azattyk: A year and 3 months have passed since you resigned. What has happened during this period that makes pleases you and what saddens you?

Roza Otunbayeva: From the things that worry me: the press whipping the topic of a spring revitalization of protests. Certainly, there is a control center spreading these rumors. But I am pleased, that our current system is standing on its own two feet, is becoming stronger, and that the process of political change is underway.

For example, there is not a single person that would not berate the parliament. But parliament is enriching its own experience through practical activity. A few MPs left their parties and were forced to form their own groups. In other parliaments there is not an imperative mandate that provides (members of parliament) complete freedom from their party. But this is provided in our (parliament).

Last year there was a change in prime ministers without very much hype. Earlier, this was always undertaken by political battalions. We should be satisfied with these changes in parliament. The parties have many capabilities. Under the former system of presidential control, none of this could have taken place. So, we do have some concrete results.

Where in the world today is absolute success and happiness? In Europe there is an economic crisis and popular unrest is taking place. And while we have problems, we are continuing to develop. And if we had such hydrocarbon stores like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, then we would also be living differently. Because we have so few resources, a very tense situation around the only large gold mine has appeared, but it seems that this problem will be positively resolved.

Azattyk: And how would you evaluate the conclusion of the Government Committee on Kumtor?

Roza Otunbayeva: In my view, the resolving of this question is following the proper course. The problem of Kumtor built up over the course of many years and only now has there been the possibility to speak about it honestly and openly, albeit 15 years later. This means, we can again be sure that the model of governance that we have chosen has its own strong facets.

The ex-president cannot justify her actions whatsoever.

Azattyk: Spring protests in Kyrgyzstan have already become a habit. The opposition has already begun to hold them. Do you agree that the political, economic and social conditions justify the revitalization and demands of the opposition?

Roza Otunbayeva: Yes, now you can hear certain cries that two years have passed, that’s enough, the authorities are completely incompetent. But these people themselves understand that there is now a revolutionary situation now, and most importantly, the people do not want this. I also am constantly travelling in the regions, and it is calm everywhere. Yes, the people have problems, I do not deny this. But problems are not solved by force, everyone recognizes this. However, the opposition continues to heat up the atmosphere. But now the opposition has taken a heretofore-unseen position, even when the opposition was in power. Therefore, what protest potential can be discussed?

Azattyk: How would you comment on the press reports that you and the ex-prime minister are jointly taking steps to return to power? You already responded to these rumors while working in Osh, but it would be interesting to hear your idea of who would benefit from the appearance of these conversations?

Roza Otunbayeva: Of course this is in the interests of the opposition. They want to stimulate an analogous mood in society with rumors of our participation. This is a predetermined course of action. Those hostile to the current authorities, the course of the state and the president lacks power, and now they create some “mass meetings.” (Everyone) has joined the (forces) against the current authorities, and this should form some signal for others to unite.

But I have nothing to justify this; I am truly outside of politics, because I am totally inundated with the work of my Foundation. We are focused on assistance programs in child and maternal problems.

Does Otunbayeva five Atambaev advice?

Azattyk: Are you in contact with President Atambaev? When did you last meet with him?

Roza Otunbayeva: Yes, we meet periodically, but I will say that is not often. The last communication with him was about a month ago. When there is a necessity to discuss more important matters, we meet. There is noting surprising about this – we were already together in the most difficult of times. We should we not meet and advise each other?

Azattyk: In one of your earlier interviews you said that you were a “packhorse” when you led the interim government. However, today there are many criticisms addressed toward the Interim Government and its members. How would you comment on this?

Roza Otunbayeva: I should clarify, the Interim Government worked for all of three months. Then many of its members left to participate in parliamentary elections, and therefore the work was continued by a so-called technical government. The Interim Government was comprised of different people sometimes with conflicting positions. And as you remember, these contradictions came to light with a month thanks to the fact that their telephone calls surfaced. The views of these people were truly opposing.

When on April 7th blood was spilled and there was a difficult situation, we took full responsibility upon ourselves. This decision was dictated by the need to stabilize the situation, calm the people, and take the most necessary steps towards normalization. But if someone committed any financial irregularities, then they must answer for this. Everyone should be responsible for their guilt.

Azattyk: Are you talking about all the members of the Interim Government?

Roza Otunbayeva: I am talking about personal responsibility. All decisions made by us in the form of decrees were correct. Not a single decree was made without a collective discussion and approval. We decided everything collectively and almost always in the presence of the press. This includes the allocation of funds, because this was required by the then situation, when disturbing situations where appearing here, there and everywhere. In this way we allocated funds for Jalalabad and Osh as well.

We are also criticized for this – why are you sending funds there? Because at that time these were the most problematic areas. Until some point, that is where Bakiev was, and where he undertook efforts to raise people. Who was able to do something there at that time? This is why some members of the Interim Government were forced to give funds to people that were close, that were able to be trusted. Because at that time there was no one else who could be relied upon. But if someone committed any violations, then they must answer for themself in how they undertook the decisions of the Interim Government.

Education aimed at development

Azattyk: You said that you were now concentrating on the activities of your Foundation. What is the mission of the “Roza Otunbayeva Initiative”?

Roza Otunbayeva: Not long ago a woman from Jalalabad Oblast approached me and was interested in the question of what work is being undertaken by our Foundation. Generally, as is known, the Foundation is a nongovernmental organization. I founded my own foundation to work on what is necessary for society and ordinary people. And last year we succeeded in doing quite a bit of good.

For example, we recently finished a tour of the Batken, Kadamjai, Uzgen, Aravan and Kara-Suu regions, and were in Kyzyl-Kiya where we undertook our programs “Education Caravan” and “Motherhood and Safety”. We were accompanied by a group of experts and specialists.

Unfortunately in our country we have a high rate of maternal and child mortality. Underage girls become sexually active very early, and this results in early pregnancy. AIDS and cancer are big concerns. Therefore we decided to increase the awareness and competence of the population with regards to protecting themselves from and preventing these problems.

And over the course of the year I have actively worked on tackling the problem of the shortage of kindergartens. In the republic there are 800,000 children younger than 7. And we are now not in a position to provide each child with a place in a kindergarten, and according to statistics only 13 percent of children attend kindergarten.

And we are facing this problem; we need to prepare about 100,000 children for school. In this area there was a large research project undertaken in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. According to the results of the research, our 1st and 4th grade students cannot read, and those who can are able to understand all of 40% of what they read. If we do not work on preschool education now, then time will be wasted. Everywhere that we have been, we directed the attention of kindergarten principles and vice principles to this problem.

Our practical assistance is in finding suitable accommodations and, with the financial backing of donors, providing classes with needed equipment, and we are also active in corresponding teacher training. This area of our work is being continued this year as well since the beginning of March. It allows the enrolling of more children in preschool programs. Yet another pressing issue is career guidance for older students, so that they choose education in professional-vocational institutions.

In short, the fund pays a great deal of attention to the field of education, because education is the area that provides society with future progress.