Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Indicate Significant Progress In Decades Long Border Dispute


According to the Kyrgyz government, 332 new houses have been constructed in the southwestern province of Batken for local residents whose homes were either damaged or destroyed during the violent clashes on the border with Tajikistan in September, reported Radio Free Europe.

Following the violence in September 2022, which resulted in the deaths of at least 100 people, villagers on both sides of the loosely defined Kyrgyz-Tajik frontier are working to rebuild their lives and homes. Meanwhile, authorities in the two Central Asian countries have announced that they are nearing a permanent resolution to their long-standing border dispute, which has been a legacy of their Soviet past.

In November 2022, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov stated that he anticipates the completion of all border delimitations with Tajikistan by May, though he did not provide many specifics regarding the process.

While many are sceptical that the May deadline will be met, officials from both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have reported making progress and appear optimistic about ongoing efforts to establish mutually acceptable demarcation lines. Additionally, officials anticipate that all border crossings between the two countries will soon reopen. These crossings were unilaterally closed by Bishkek in late April 2021.

A recent meeting between the working groups from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was held in Bishkek from February 3-9, with plans for additional meetings to take place in the upcoming months.

“The most important achievement [thus far] is mutual understanding between the two sides,” Orif Khojazoda, head of Tajikistan’s State Committee for Land Management, said on February 15.

Khojazoda didn’t give details of the meeting, citing a nondisclosure agreement until the delimitation process is finished. But he expressed confidence the border disputes will be resolved.

According to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, 63% – or some 625 kilometres of the roughly 980-kilometre border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – has been demarcated so far, as the sides work to define the remaining areas.

In a phone call last month, Japarov and Rahmon vowed to settle the border conflict through a “constructive approach” and “diplomacy”.

It indicates the countries have come a long way from the September violence that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more, including many civilians on both sides.

The Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border dispute

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have a shared border that spans 971 kilometres, approximately 471 kilometres of which are still being disputed.

The issue of demarcating and delimiting the border between the two countries has been ongoing for over 20 years, and numerous official bilateral meetings have been held in an attempt to resolve the issue. In 2000, the Kyrgyz state commission on border issues and Tajik state commission of demarcation and delimitation of state borders began working actively on the issue. However, from the beginning of their collaboration, the commission members could not reach an agreement on the normative and legal aspects of the issue.

The primary obstacle to resolving the border dispute is the fact that the two countries use different geopolitical maps. Tajikistan operates with maps from 1924-39, while the Kyrgyz Republic uses a map from 1958-59.

Source : Republicworld