Since assuming the leadership of Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai has scrambled to keep the country's reconstruction aspirations on track. Given a dire shortage of funds and a devastated infrastructure, the interim government has been hard pressed to provide basic services.
Fortified by an International Monetary Fund decision to provide $16.2 billion in stand-by credit, Turkish Economics Minister Kemal Dervis declared recently that Ankara had cleared an important fiscal threshold. Dervis asserted that Turkey's banking sector had been reformed, its exchange rate had stabilized, and its citizens remained intent on seeking European Union membership.
US Assistant Secretary of State Lorne W. Craner coordinates US programs that promote human rights and democratization worldwide. With the United States and Uzbekistan expanding political and economic cooperation, Craner visited Tashkent recently to assess the civil society development in the Central Asian country. Craner spoke with an EurasiaNet correspondent in Tashkent.
Mikhail Saakashvili has emerged as a leading reformer in Georgia. In September 2001, Saakashvili resigned as justice minister in protest of the reluctance of President Eduard Shevardnadze's administration to implement anti-corruption measures. In October, he won a seat in the Georgian parliament in a special by-election, and since then has sought to strengthen his power base.
The breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia held elections on December 7. Meanwhile, no answers have emerged to explain who shot down a helicopter full of United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) aid workers over the disputed Abkhazia region in early October.
Northern Alliance units entered Kabul on November 13 after Taliban troops abandoned their defensive positions in a strategic withdrawal to strongholds in southern Afghanistan. US officials portray the situation in the Afghan capital as "fluid." The flight of the Taliban is prompting the international community to refocus attention on building a post-Taliban order.
The UN's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, spoke to Ahmed Rashid about the results of his six days of talks in Islamabad. [See Eurasia Insight for more information.] The text of his comments follow: