The ongoing process of delimiting the state border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was discussed during a February 5th meeting between Tajikistan’s president Emomali Rahmon and Kyrgyzstan’s minister of foreign affairs Jeenbek Kulubaev in Dushanbe. The parties announced that over the past four months the Kyrgyz and Tajik sides have reached an agreement on 196km of the state border, and to date almost 90% of their 975km border has been prepared for demarcation, the Tajik president’s press service said. Mr Rahmon and Mr Kulubaev also discussed the joint use of water resources of transboundary rivers, and the expansion of commercial and economic relations between the two countries. The delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has been an issue since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The issue has turned into an urgent problem in recent years after several deadly clashes took place along disputed segments of the border. Many border areas in Central Asian republics have been disputed since 1991. The situation is particularly complicated around the numerous exclaves in the Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.
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Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will be working together to open an additional checkpoint for goods vehicles on their countries’ border. They are also set to further their cooperation in the water and energy sectors. These agreements were reached at a meeting between the Kazakh prime minister, Alikhan Smailov, and the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet of ministers Akylbek Japarov in Almaty on February 1st. Kyrgyzstan has complained for years about long lines at the Kazakh border for its cargo trucks bringing goods to Russia through Kazakhstan. The most recent big traffic jam occurred on the Kyrgyz side of the border in August 2023, when more than 600 trucks were stuck at the crossing. These delays were caused by Kazakh authorities carrying out enhanced checks on trucks entering the country from Kyrgyzstan, ostensibly to combat illegal border activity. However, the situation caused speculation that the jams were a result of a dispute over irrigation water resources between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Irrigation water remains an issue in Kazakh-Kyrgyz relations. Last summer the southern regions of Kazakhstan experienced a severe shortage of water for their fields, while upstream Kyrgyzstan also lacked water and couldn’t supply enough of it to its northern neighbor. Kazakhstan, especially its dry southern regions, is dependent on water coming from Kyrgyzstan. At the meeting on February 1st Mr Smailov also spoke about the growing trade between the two countries, with bilateral trade growing by 12% and reaching $1.3bn between January and November 2023.