I.P.O. Information Service
Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), 14 September 2003/P/RE/18311c-is
The President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, today concluded an information visit to the Kyrgyz Republic.
Referring to the recently released Landmine Report 2003 of the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, Dr. Koechler expressed the hope that the Kyrgyz Republic, together with the Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, will sign and ratify the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine Ban Treaty). The President of the I.P.O. welcomed the mine-clearing operations undertaken, on the basis of the law of 7 June 2001, by the Kyrgyz authorities along the border with Tajikistan; he pointed to the problem of Uzbek minefields emplaced inside Kyrgyzstan around the Tajik enclave of Sokh and along other border areas and expressed the hope that the mines along the border with Uzbekistan will be completely cleared in the near future. The dispute about the border demarcation between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan should be settled as soon as possible so that the obstacles to mine-clearing operations in the area will be removed, the President of the I.P.O. stated.
Dr. Koechler stated that the problem of land mines in Central Asia can only be settled when peace and stability will have been restored in the region and relations of mutual confidence will have been established between the neighbouring states, particularly Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. As long as anti-personnel mines are seen as a "cheap" and available weapon to protect a country from infiltration -- while the acquisition of alternative means of defense of a country's borders is seen as economically impossible --, there is no chance for those countries seriously considering accession to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Economic and social development of the entire region will be one of the basic factors of such a process. The problem of infiltration of anti-government groups can only be tackled on the basis of a comprehensive peace, development and cooperation programme in and between all countries in the region, including Afghanistan. In this regard, Dr. Koechler referred to the recent interview of Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev for the Russian newspaper Izvestya. President Akaev explained that the situation in Afghanistan directly influences the countries of Central Asia and called for credible and efficient efforts of the international community to create the conditions of normal life in Afghanistan.
The President of the I.P.O. earlier visited the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The International Progress Organization has repeatedly called for a total international ban of land mines and has joined the coalition of non-governmental organizations in support of this goal.
End/I.P.O. President visits Kyrgyzstan/2003-09-14/18311c-is