Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Agree on More Disputed Border Areas

As reported by RFE/RL, officials from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan say the two countries agreed on another 24 kilometers of the border between the two former Soviet republics after special talks on the issue were held over the past week, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported. Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said on December 5th that the talks were held in the northern town of Buston, near the Kyrgyz border. According to the Kyrgyz government, the next round of talks regarding other parts of the border will be held on Kyrgyzstan’s territory on a day that is yet to be determined.

In a sign of thawing relations, back on November 9th 2023, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic announced that a further 17.98 kilometres of its border with Tajikistan had been agreed upon, with another meeting of the of topographic working groups due to be held in Batken from November 11th to17th. A long-standing source of conflict between the two nations, it is emblematic of the problem that even the length of the border – sometimes cited as being 975-kilomtres long, and at others times 972-kilomteres – is rarely agreed upon. As of January 2023, Tajikistan’s President Rahmon stated that 614-kilometres have been agreed upon, backtracking on a previously stated figure of 664.

The delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has been an issue for decades, but turned into an extremely urgent problem in recent years after several deadly clashes took place along disputed segments of the frontier. With its scant natural resources and dwindling water supplies, the border has been the scene of numerous skirmishes for many years. In 2014, all borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were closed indefinitely to Kyrgyz and Tajik citizens following clashes over a bypass road in disputed territory; mortars were fired and both armies suffered casualties. In the spring of 2021, trouble flared up again when an armed conflict along one segment of the border left 36 Kyrgyz nationals, including two children, dead, and 154 injured on the Kyrgyz side. The Tajik authorities officially said that 19 Tajik citizens were killed and 87 were injured during the clashes.

Many border areas in Central Asian former Soviet republics have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The situation is particularly complicated around the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.

Stephen M. Bland

Stephen M. Bland

 Stephen M. Bland is a journalist, author, editor, commentator and researcher specialising in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Prior to joining The Times of Central Asia, he has worked for NGOs, think tanks, as the Central Asia expert on a forthcoming documentary series, for the BBC, The Diplomat, EurasiaNet, and numerous other publications.
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Published in 2016, his book on Central Asia was the winner of the Golden Laureate of Eurasian Literature. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a book about the Caucasus.
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www.stephenmbland.com

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