Ambassador Holland voices UK support for the work of OSCE’s Programme Office in Bishkek, including on border security, media freedom, and climate change.

Neil Holland

I would like to welcome Mr Alexey Rogov back to the Permanent Council and thank you and your colleagues for your hard work over the past year. I would like to also welcome Dr Walker for the first time and congratulate you on your appointment. Thank you both for the reports. 

The UK is committed to deepening our relationship with Kyrgyzstan, as underlined by our Foreign Secretary’s visit in April.  

We welcome the excellent cooperation between the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek and the Kyrgyzstan Government; and support the continued efforts that the OSCE Academy in Bishkek make in helping inform and support policy-making in the region across all three dimensions of the OSCE. 

I would like to highlight three themes from the report. 

Firstly, it is clear that the Programme Office plays a crucial role in facilitating cross-border cooperation and security. Kyrgyzstan has undertaken admirable work in the demarcation of its border with Tajikistan, highlighting the value of diplomacy and peaceful dialogue, and we commend the involvement of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  We encourage progress on the remaining demarcation.  

Secondly, I would like to thank the OSCE for their work raising the importance of a free media and healthy civil society. We encourage the Government of Kyrgyzstan to consider how the Foreign Agents Law is implemented so that it does not undermine the effectiveness of these groups.  

In this vein, I commend the work done by the OSCE Academy on freedom of religion and belief as it applies to media issues, civil society organizations and media outlets. 

Finally, we welcome the Programme Office’s work to boost Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to adapt to climate change. Kyrgyzstan’s geography and topography means it is particularly susceptible to glacial melt, desertification, and deforestation. We thank the Programme Office for their continued tailored support to the Aarhus Centre Network in its promotion of environmental democracy. We are delighted to have recently announced a £19.5 million regional climate programme to support Central Asia’s climate ambitions – and we look forward to further collaboration in this area. 

In closing, I would like to thank you and your team in Bishkek for delivering the OSCE’s principles and values of security, particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We wish you continued success in the year ahead.

Published 23 May 2024