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World

OSCE police mission to Kyrgyzstan to focus on 'stability'

In June, the central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan broke down in bouts of violence that led to hundreds of deaths. The OSCE plans a 'stability' mission in response to the crisis, a chief OSCE official told Deutsche Welle.

A burnt car in a Kyrgyz street

The violence in southern Kyrgyzstan led to many deaths

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) plans to send a police mission to troubled Kyrgyzstan following violence and instability in the central Asian state. Deutsche Welle spoke with Herbert Salber, the head of the OSCE's Conflict Prevention Center, about the mission.

Deutsche Welle: What are the criteria for selecting the police being sent as part of the OSCE mission?

Herbert Salber: They should be experienced police officers in the police services of OSCE member countries. They should speak one of the languages spoken on the ground. This means, realistically, we should concentrate on Russian. We believe we will find a sufficient number of candidates in member states. They should also be familiar with the political and cultural conditions in the region. At the beginning we want to send 52 police officers.

Blooded Kyrgyz police officers huddle together for protection

Police came under attack during the violence

Which countries will they come from?

Many delegations have expressed interest, and we sent out a note to our member states with a request for candidate nominations. I estimate that we will receive nominations from 10 to 15, if not 20, participant countries. Naturally, this will include many from central and eastern Europe, and even central Asia, because there we have Russian speakers.

What will be the goal of the mission?

The main goal is to establish stability and reliability in southern Kyrgyzstan. The mission will counsel the Kyrgyz police and accompany them in the implementation of their duties. They will also monitor the Kyrgyz police and look closely at how they go about dealing with difficult situations. We have to assume that trust between the Kyrgyz people and law enforcement has been lost in the areas where there was violence in June. This must be restored. The efforts of our police will depend on this. It should be noted that these police will be unarmed, and thus they will not be a police squad, but rather they will be there to counsel, to observe and to report. The police will report through our office in Bishkek and the Permanent Council of the OSCE ambassador in order to contribute to stabilization.

Uzbek woman Matluba, centre, who says she fled from the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh

Thousands tried to cross the border into Uzbekistan

Some people in southern Kyrgyzstan are protesting the OSCE mission. Why is this?

This is difficult to understand because the president of the country, Roza Otunbayeva, and relevant members of the Kyrgyz leadership have always assured us that such a police mission was wanted and welcome. I can only imagine that some elements want to obstruct the arrival of the police mission because they have an interest in hiding certain things from the international community. But I don't think we should pay too much attention to this. What is important for us is what the government in Bishkek says.

Will the mission aid the international investigation into the outbursts of violence in June?

Ethnic Uzbeks, who fled southern Kyrgyzstan, cross the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border

The clashes created thousands of refugees

We must not get involved with that. The police mission is primarily there to support the Kyrgyz police. It's not our mission to comment on an investigation into what happened in June. The Kyrgyz government has developed an idea to have an investigative commission shed light on this topic. The commission should also possibly be internationally equipped. This has nothing to do with the police mission, which is concerned with what happens between now and the future, as opposed to the commission, which will examine the past.

When will the mission begin?

The mission can begin with initial delegations in the middle of August. We have established procedures in the OSCE for how we select the members of our international missions. We need to adhere to these procedures in order for all candidates to have a fair chance and so OSCE member states are able to participate in the mission according to their wishes. If we shorten this process as much as possible then the first police officers can arrive in mid-August.

How long should the mission take and where will the police be stationed?

Initially four months, but it is possible that the mission could be extended by mutual consent. The police will be stationed in Osh and Jalalabad.

Interview: Daniele Posdnjakov / dfm
Editor: Sean Sinico

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