On May 5, a remarkable meeting took place between the President of Kyrgyzstan and a group of leading Kyrgyz NGOs. The meeting culminated with all participants signing a formal agreement between the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and The Kyrgyz Third Sector (hereinafter referred to as Kyrgyz Agreement), represented by the participating NGOs, which committed all parties to further cooperation in a number of specific areas, including cooperation on enforcement of legislative norms, guaranteeing human and citizens’ rights within the Kyrgyz Republic; and on public supervision over government’s decision making at all levels.
ICNL was the only foreign organization invited by the President’s Administration to assist with preparation of the meeting and the text of the Kyrgyz Agreement. The Kyrgyz Agreement was modeled after similar agreements between parliaments/governments and NGOs in various other countries (so called “compacts”), and ICNL shared its experience in assisting with many of these agreements. We viewed the May 5 event and the invitation to assist in preparing for it as an opportunity to address and resolve some outstanding issues of misunderstanding and mistrust that had existed between the government and NGOs. ICNL’s reputation as an independent expert organization was crucial to the willingness of the President’s Administration to ask ICNL to assist with establishing the institutions to insure that the Kyrgyz Agreement will be implemented.
While the long term impact remains to be seen, the meeting on May 5 and the adoption of the Kyrgyz Agreement already have had significant practical impact. We now believe that the proposed restrictive NGO law will not be adopted prior to the presidential elections. At a press conference held yesterday, Mr. Melis Zhunushaliev, the Head of the Analytical Service with the President’s Administration, stated that the President is against the adoption of discriminatory restrictions of NGO activities.