Tiffany Frandsen | Deputy Managing Editor | tiffany_mf
Delegates from Kyrgyzstan are visiting UVU and the Utah state capitol this week while they are in the country to study how the U.S. government runs and see what aspects they implement for their own, increasingly-democratic government.
Today, with the help of a translator, they discussed sustainability, the history of Kyrgyzstan and the relationship between Utah and Kyrgyzstan with a political science class taught by Professor Akhmatalieva. Akhamatalieva, who is from Kyrgyzstan, has given the class perspective on the country.
Utah is of particular interest to the Kyrgyz delegation because of the geographical similarities (Kyrgyzstan also being very mountainous).
“When we made it here, we felt pretty much at home. We looked around, the weather, lots of things seemed similar,” said Gulnura Sultanbaeva, head of the Unit in Research Center.
The delegates will spend time with the Utah state government to see how the state balances economic development and environmental preservation, as this is one of the biggest issues they are struggling with currently. It’s a difficult situation, as they haven’t had experience regulating relations, according to the delgates.
Two previous presidents, Kurmabek Bakiev and Askar Akaev, were ousted because of claims of nepotism, corruption and embezzlement. The mineral resources of the country had been sold out, which led to the destruction of the environment, according to the delegates.
This led the people to decide against presidential hierarchies and they turned toward democracy and parliament.
They discussed the most pressing issues that face Kyrgyzstan today, including the high level of corruption and the concern of infiltration from Afghanistan once NATO troops withdraw. Kyrgyzstan used to have a base for the U.S. to move troops in and out of Afghanistan. They are concerned about security and potential drug trafficking.
Kyrgyzstan has a relatively new government. They had a presidential republic until an uprising in 2010, which resulted in 87 dead. The new government is a parliamentary republic and although democracy is young in the country, it is developing quickly. Their Parliament has five different political parties.
Delegate Kylychbek Abdyrashitov (head of the Sector Committee on Economic and Fiscal Policy) asked what the class knew about Kyrgyzstan before the discussion.
“It’s a country that has a lot of passionate people who are desperately trying to become better,” said UVU student Hailey Eggleston.
Earlier today, the delegates had a tour of the campus, met with Professor Jay DeSart (in the political science department) and had a luncheon with attendees from the history, political science departments, and the student government.
The Utah-Kyrgyzstan relationship initially began in 1999, when UVU first invited the ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev to lecture at the campus and now, the ambassador and his wife, Cholpon Akmatalieva both teach at UVU.
“As far as I know, we are the only university in at least the Western United States that has a foreign ambassador as a professor,” said Dr. Rusty Butler, associate vice president for International Affairs & Diplomacy at UVU. “These fine people are examples of the great people of that country. They’re very gracious.”
Butler’s wife, Danielle C. Butler, is also the Honorary Council for Kyrgyzstan in the state of Utah.
As part of the Open World Program, they are studying governments from multiple nations to see which parts they can adapt for their own country.
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf