|Fact Sheet: The United States Government Democracy Assistance to Kyrgyzstan
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, April 17, 2000
U.S. Department of State
During her April 16 visit to Bishkek, Secretary Albright announced a number of U.S.-funded initiatives designed to support democracy, human rights, and growth of civil society in Kyrgyzstan:
Support for the American University in Kyrgyzstan (AUK): Since November 1997, when First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the University, the USG has committed $2 million to AUK, matched by $2 million from the Soros-funded Open Society Institute (OSI). The USG funding is being used to pay the costs of renovating buildings, give scholarships to students, convene a Board of Trustees and enable the Board to conduct the search for a university president. The USG also funded a partnership between Indiana University and AUK to share information on university administration, develop new curricula and update the school's information resources. The Government of Kyrgyzstan has provided facilities and worked with OSI to establish a Board of Trustees that includes four members from the U.S. and five from Kyrgyzstan. AUK’s first entering class in 1993 had 40 students, 30 of whom had graduated in 1997. A total of 42 students graduated in 1998, and 52 students graduated in 1999. This academic year, 700 students are enrolled at AUK.
Internet Access and Training: This program, which is administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), provides Internet access and training on Internet usage to journalists, entrepreneurs, exchange program alumni and others.
The USG will fund two new public-access Internet sites in Kyrgyzstan, in addition to the seven sites we have already established. The two new sites will be located in Osh and Karakol; the seven existing sites are located in Bishkek, Jalalabad and Osh.
Small Grants for Election-Related Activities: Prior to the February 2000 parliamentary elections, USAID funded a $175,000 small grants program to help NGOs, civic organizations, and media entities educate citizens about the local and parliamentary elections, and encourage transparency, citizen oversight and participation. With the help of these grants, Kyrgyz NGOs fielded over 2,000 domestic election monitors, distributed more than 20,000 voter education posters, produced public service announcements (PSAs), and organized candidate debates.
USAID will conduct a $150,000 small-grants competition to help NGOs, civic organizations and media entities inform voters and monitor the fall 2000 presidential elections. The competition will be based on the highly successful program conducted prior to the February 2000 parliamentary elections.
Exchange Programs: We continue to invest in the next generation of leaders. Since 1992, over 1,800 Kyrgyz citizens have traveled to the U.S. under USG-funded exchange programs.
Over 200 Kyrgyz citizens will travel to the U.S. on USG-funded academic and professional exchange programs this year, including programs implemented by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, USAID training programs, the Commerce Department’s Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program and USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program.
Support for Independent Media: The USG is providing small grants and technical assistance to independent newspapers, TV and radio stations. This assistance includes limited equipment donations, as well as training seminars and materials on topics such as managing a media outlet, building advertising revenue and improving production skills. With support from USAID, the U.S. NGO Internews is promoting the development of regional and national independent TV networks, as well as an association of independent broadcasters.
Support for NGO Development: The USG is providing small grants and technical assistance to a wide variety of Kyrgyz NGOs, helping them work more effectively at the community level and improving their ability to defend their members’ interests and lobby local government officials.
Civic Education: The USG is supporting the development of civic education programs, with the goal of strengthening citizen participation and increasing governmental accountability.
Judicial and Legal Reform: With support from USAID, the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI) is encouraging the development of an independent judiciary, judges’ and lawyers’ associations, and a code of ethics for judges and lawyers.
Local Government: USAID is providing capacity-building assistance to local governments, with the goal of increasing their autonomy and facilitating increased citizen participation.
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