“Opening the doors of policy-making is precisely what is needed.”

June 12, 2012

Bohdan Krawchenko

Central Asian governments must learn to adopt policies based on professional research and analysis if they expect to move forward on tackling the many socio-political problems plaguing the region, according to Bohdan Krawchenko, director general of the University of Central Asia.

“Progress on pressing issue can only be made if public policy becomes a paradigm in the work of government, not more dictatorship,” said Krawchenko, speaking at a PASOS networking conference in Kyrgyzstan June 1.

“Opening the doors of policy-making is precisely what is needed.”

Krawchenko was the keynote speaker at the event in Bishkek. The conference was part of a PASOS project that seeks to empower civil society organizations and to enhance public participation in public policy development.

Funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund, “Opening the Doors of Policy-Making in the South Caucasus and Central Asia” aims to strengthen CSOs, foster regional networking, and promote sustained dialogue with policymakers.

Krawchenko told the conference participants that think tanks in Central Asia face far more difficult challenges than those in other regions that underwent or are undergoing transition to democracy.

“This is a region where the legacy of the Soviet period weighs far more heavily than elsewhere in the post-Communist states,” he said. “It has no neighbors who can serve as examples of liberal democracy. There is no EU accession process or aspirations and thus no EU membership-driven imperative to reform. The drive to reform will have to be internally driven.”

The networking conference was attended by civil society actors and public officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Krawchenko’s speech, which can be viewed in its entirely in the video following this article, was followed by a series of panel discussions.

The panels, populated by a mix of policy analysts and governments representatives, discussed such topics as “New Strategies to Identify and Meet the Policy Challenges Facing Central Asia,” “New Strategies to Identify and Meet the Policy Challenges Facing the South Caucasus,” and “Shaping and Supporting Country Strategies for Sutainable Development.”

In addition, several fellows who participated in the project’s fellowship program presented the results of the studies they undertook during their fellowships. The presentations were critiqued by experts and the fellows took questions from the audience about their studies.

Two of the fellows received the “Opening the Doors of Policymaking Award for Best Policy Paper.” Shukhrat Ganiev of Uzbekistan wrote a paper on “Slovakia-Uzbekistan: solutions for cross-border water management -- similarities and differences.” Yevgenij Golendukhin of Kazakhstan presented his study on the “Optimisation of the national preventive mechanism in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

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