Nation Building in a Globalized World: Canada’s Partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic

This year, the Kyrgyz Republic and Canada are both celebrating milestone anniversaries.
The Kyrgyz Republic celebrates 25 years of independence, and Canada will commemorate 150 years of confederation.
Today, our countries also celebrate 25 years of bilateral relations.

10:30, 17 февраля 201712527

H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan:


Over the past 25 years, the Kyrgyz Republic has made remarkable progress in creating a country, and Canada commends these efforts. Along the way, Canadian investment and expertise has supported the Kyrgyz Republic in developing its pivotal mining and hydro sectors, strengthening health and education systems, securing borders from the threat of nuclear materials and the drug trade, as well as supporting democratic reforms.

Now, as the Kyrgyz Republic considers the next phases of nation building, Canada hopes to share lessons learned from 150 years of continually negotiating a diverse, inclusive national identity.

Our experience shows that stability and prosperity are best achieved through pluralism, transparency, and openness to the world, rather than restrictions, divisions, and protectionism.

In an era of rising nationalism, fear of immigration and foreign influence, countries like Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic must stand as examples of the importance of these principles.

Pluralism

Canada finds strength in diversity, but as the heinous attack on a mosque in Quebec sadly illustrates, Canada is not immune to prejudice: discrimination is everywhere. However, discrimination is not the foundation of a stable, secure, successful society. Discrimination does not protect anyone.

Canada has always been a pluralistic society. Our country is known for having two founding nations, France and England. However, Canada was originally inhabited by indigenous First Nations, and their history has also left an indelible impression on Canadian society. The foundations of Canada are therefore steeped in enormous diversity, and over the past 150 years we have slowly transformed this diversity into strength. Today, Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and immigration is critical to our nationhood. Canada welcomes more immigrants per capita than any other developed country, accepting 300,000 individuals per year, nearly 1 percent of our population. Recently, Canadians applied this spirit of amiability and inclusivity to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, mobilizing our resources to embrace 40,000 refugees since November 2015. Diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion are critical to Canadian success.

Through constitutional debate, building democratic institutions, and other projects, the Kyrgyz Republic continues to explore its national and democratic identity. Canada hopes to be a partner in this endeavour and share our experience.

Canada also affirms the Global Centre for Pluralism’s support for local scholars and its dialogue on inclusive national identity. I’ve personally attended Global Centre for Pluralism workshops with researchers and government officials in Bishkek. The Canadian Embassy is also supporting good governance and interethnic collaboration through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and Canada is maintaining a dialogue with religious and ethnic authorities to share ideas on combatting extremism while respecting freedoms of religion and expression. Over the past 150 years, these freedoms and inclusive governance have been essential to Canada’s prosperity.

Transparency

As we have seen time and again, corruption is the enemy of a free, just, and prosperous country, and prevents countries from reaching their full potential. Open government, as much as fair elections, are critical to democratic development.  Canada is committed to helping the Kyrgyz Republic combat corruption by sharing our best practices and supporting local efforts to enhance transparency and open governance.Indeed, Transparency International consistently ranks Canada as a top-10 country with regard to domestic corruption and measures to prohibit the «export of corruption».

Canada is a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and our Corruption of Foreign Officials Act obligates everyone in Canada to report such corruption. Furthermore, Canada supports corporate initiatives to build organizational anti-corruption systems at home and abroad. As part of this commitment, Canada provides training courses and advice to Canadian companies on how to avoid corruption. Reputation is essential to international relations, and corruption poisons reputation. Like the Kyrgyz Republic, Canada must rely on negotiation and reputation to advance our interests. For the sake of domestic and international affairs, Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic can work together to eliminate corruption and foster transparency in the public and private sectors.

Open to International Cooperation

Open doors are the keystone of Canadian international relations.  As a nation dependent on trade outside its borders, Canada proves that international inclusivity equates to domestic prosperity. We face global challenges, and global challenges require global solutions. These challenges include climate change, security, water access, trade, and development, and Canada has made unique commitments and contributions to addressing each issue. As Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic confront the global challenges in our future, we must work to resist populist nationalism, and isolationism.

Canada has assumed a leadership role in the international effort against global climate change. We played an active role in the recent Paris negotiations, and Canada has dedicated $2.5 billion over 5 years to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to the effects of a changing climate. Canada also continues to develop and implement new technological solutions to climate change, including alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro. Hydroelectric power now accounts for 59.3 percent of Canadian electric generation. Canada has become an expert in «water diplomacy», or negotiating transboundary water agreements.  Few understand the importance of this experience more than in the Kyrgyz Republic, where sustainability of precious water resources hinges on climate change and sound management within and across borders.

Canada also has a long history of confronting international security concerns through cooperation and multilateralism. We are committing to deploy 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel for UN peace operations, developing a new peacekeeping training initiative for the UN, and joining with countries around the world to bring an end to conflict in Syria.
Former Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan Margaret Skok, presentation of credentials, (2006).
Canada-Kyrgyzstan Bio Lab treaty signing, (2008).
Daraut-Kurgan Kindergarten 2, (2008).
Former member of Parliament & Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs Bob Dechert visit to Bishkek, (2013).
Former Canadian Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan Stephen Millar at the meeting with the representatives of the Aga Khan development network in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Presentation of credentials by H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, (2014).
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan presents his credentials to the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Almazbek Atambayev, (2014).
At the meeting at the Kyrgyz National University, Bishkek (2016)
At the meeting at the Kyrgyz National University, Bishkek (2016)
At the meeting at the Kyrgyz National University, Bishkek (2016)
At the meeting at the Kyrgyz National University, Bishkek (2016)
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan during a hockey game with Kyrgyz kids in Bishkek (2016)
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan during a hockey game with Kyrgyz kids in Bishkek (2016)
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan during a hockey game with Kyrgyz kids in Bishkek (2016)
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan during a hockey game with Kyrgyz kids in Bishkek (2016)
H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan during a hockey game with Kyrgyz kids in Bishkek (2016)
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"Where others seek to build walls, Canada aims to build bridges".

H.E. Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kazakhstan,

Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan

Where others seek to build walls, Canada aims to build bridges. Canada promotes «progressive trade», which genuinely serves society as a whole through offering opportunities for small businesses, incorporating labour protections, and enshrining environmental standards. Our landmark progressive trade deal is CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. Canada has also developed policies that encourage foreign investment, and these policies in large part have caused Canada to lead all G7 countries in economic growth over the past decade. Countries like Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic can also experience increased prosperity by building free and open markets for investment. Indeed, Canada has achieved remarkable success as the home of half the world’s mining companies and mining investment precisely by engaging with the free global market, rather than relying on the government to directly control private sector activity. Canada is currently leading initiatives to educate officials and community leaders in the Kyrgyz Republic about implementing these best practices in the crucial resource sector.



Canada is also internationally committed to the ongoing struggle against global poverty and inequality. In 2016, Canada conducted an International Assistance Review to develop priorities and approaches for a new role in tackling global development issues. While the results have yet to be published, the report will include: recommendations to adopt a human rights-based approach; a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable; an effort to make Canadian development assistance more innovative and efficient; and a consideration of local needs, contexts, and actors. These endeavours will be paired with multilateral cooperation between Canada and various governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations.

This renewed commitment to international cooperation and global openness is driving Canada’s campaign for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2021-22. Looking ahead, voices from countries like Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic that share a commitment to democracy, inclusive governance, and global cooperation, are needed to ensure the foundations for peace and prosperity remain strong. Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic have much to celebrate in 2017, and more reason than ever to strengthen our 25 years of cooperation. Though separated by great distances, the people of Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic share many characteristics, including our friendly and tolerant natures, our love for the outdoors and sports. I am impressed at how well people in this country have taken to Canada's favourite pastime, and look forward to promoting the game of hockey and other people-to-people connections in the future.

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