The political changes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are providing many Europeans with a crash course in geography and presenting the European Union with new challenges rather faster than it can find solutions.

Just days ago, most Europeans would have found it difficult to identify what Bishkek was, still less where it was. But rapid regime change has brought Kyrgyzstan and its capital into sudden sharp focus.

Hard on the heels of the oOrange Revolutiono in Ukraine, another former Soviet republic has seen an old-style autocrat swept from power by a peoples revolution. Again, the trigger was public dissatisfaction with the conduct of elections. And, as with Ukraine, the dramatic shift in government has - so far - taken place without a descent into chaos.

The EU has stayed tenuously abreast of the turbulent developments in Kyrgyzstan, issuing a series of encouraging calls for law and order, dialogue among political forces, national reconciliation, and democratic and human rights.

Although Kyrgyzstan, nestling against China on one side, is one of the most distant Central Asian republics, and is dwarfed by neighbouring Kazakhstan on its other side, and lacks the huge fuel wealth of many Central Asian republics, its fate is important to the EU. Stability and security in this volatile region are of wide geo-strategic significance a consideration that the EU, in its...

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