In an interview with a Moscow weekly, Kyrgyz foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva says that her government is seeking "reliable guarantees of our national security" other than the CIS collective security treaty to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory. With apparent reference to the Partnership for Peace program, Otunbayeva said: "Russia has unfortunately reacted very negatively to NATO’s [enlargement] plans…NATO is one of the options we are prepared to consider. Why should we give up this opportunity?" She also urged NATO and the OSCE to play a role in settling the conflict in Tajikistan and, in the process, to provide security guarantees for Tajikistan’s neighbors, including Kyrgyzstan.
Describing China as "far less aggressive than Russia in attempting to influence Central Asia" and a "most serious factor" in regional security, Otunbayeva said that Kyrgyzstan will strive to "maintain a balance of interests between Russia and China" in the region. As a further active option, Otunbayeva mentioned the formation of a Kazakh-Uzbek-Kyrgyz joint peacekeeping battalion under UN, not CIS, auspices. Openly discussing Kyrgyzstan’s search for transport routes to world markets that would bypass Russia, the minister said that "the major direction of our aspirations is to the south." Through the Organization for Economic Cooperation, which links the five Central Asian countries to Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, the Kyrgyz government seeks access to Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf ports, through which it can receive western investment equipment and export Kyrgyzstan’s minerals. (7)
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