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Contributions of Tajik-Kyrgyz “Peace” to the Two Countries and the Region

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Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan government delegations met in Dushanbe on November 14, 2022, to discuss the delimitation and demarcation of the Tajik-Kyrgyz state border. The meeting was chaired by Saimumin Yatimov, Chairman of the State Committee for National Security of Tajikistan, and Kamchybek Tashiev, Chairman of the State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan. After the meeting, the relevant protocol was signed between the parties. While the specifics of the discussions and the signed protocol have not been disclosed, it is said that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and in the spirit of mutual understanding, and the parties decided to convene the next meeting in Kyrgyzstan.[1]

One of the most difficult issues for both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is the border dispute. However, the parties, having learned from border confrontations that occured within the past few months, recognize that resolving the matter among themselves is the best solution. Both states have sensitivities about borders and reservations about the decisions they will take. On the other hand, both countries are well aware of the problem’s existence and the fact that if it remains unaddressed, it will do significant harm.

First and foremost, the unsolved issue impedes the improvement of relations. It is also acknowledged that there is a possibility of conflict, and that potential tensions might escalate into conflicts, and eventually into a full-fledged war. In this context, Bishkek and Dushanbe prefer ongoing dialogue to mitigate possible dangers and address the matter.

In case the parties fail to resolve the problems among themselves, it will pave the way for third parties to be involved in the process. If they cannot demonstrate a willingness to settle the difficulties between themselves, the process is also likely to become more uncertain if other parties who appear friendly but have their own agendas are included. There are many examples of this.

In this context, it will be Bishkek and Dushanbe that will resolve the Tajik-Kyrgyz border problem in a way that will be in the interests of both countries. For example, border disputes between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the most problematic regions have been steadily addressed in recent months, benefiting both countries. In previous years, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were able to solve their border and water problems among themselves. As a result, Tajikistan started to feel more secure in the region.

If the border problems between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are resolved, Bishkek and Dushanbe will benefit in a number of ways. These interests will have an impact not only in bilateral relations, but also in issues such as regional security and economic cooperation.

If the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border conflicts are resolved, both countries will feel safer. Since there will not be a conflict, there will be no losses.  Both sides suffered at least 50-60 casualties in the latest and maybe most brutal fight of the previous 30 years, which occurred in September 2022. If the border problems are addressed, Kyrgyzstan will not exacerbate mutual threats by massing soldiers on the Tajik border and Tajiks on the Kyrgyz border.

Secondly, this will affect the internal security of both countries. Conflicts always have internal political consequences. And the government is being held accountable for it. The absence of human casualties will also alleviate the worry felt by both the Kyrgyz and Tajik administrations as a result of public’s reaction.

Thirdly, as a country with political will, it will gain respect from its neighbors, the region and the international community. Because it is always the opposing side who is blamed in border disputes, the accused party’s international standing suffers and it becomes guilty. The disappearance of the border problem will lead to the elimination of international pressures.

Fourth, it will contribute to regional security. The potential dangers of conflict increase the possibility of it escalating into war. A war between neighbors may raise the probability of third (particularly foreign) parties seeking to benefit from it becoming involved. There may be those who want to turn the border conflicts into a regional instability. A peace between the parties will prevent such a possibility.

Fifth of all, it will contribute to a greater focus on the problems originating from Afghanistan. Tajikistan has strained ties with Kyrgyzstan and must relocate some of its soldiers from the south to the northern borders and station them there. There is a military concentration on two fronts. Because the Afghanistan problem is not simply a Tajikistan concern, but also a regional one, Kyrgyzstan can work with Tajikistan to combat other security challenges rather than worrying about the Tajik threat. In this case, the collaboration will make both countries feel safer and stronger.

Sixth, neighbors who eliminate security risks and political issues between them will be able to gain more economic and commercial benefits. Border trade increases between nations that have border security. This will contribute to the increase of the economic welfare of the citizens living in the border regions. It will pave the way for them to develop local and international projects between countries as well as between border regions.

Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, the increasing hostilities between societies, arising from border conflicts, will initially decrease and then disappear completely. Prejudices that have grown in the last 30 years between two communities who have lived side by side for thousands of years will disappear. Friendship and brotherhood will be re-established.

As a result, if the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border disputes are resolved with the political will of Bishkek and Dushanbe, it is certain that it will make a great contribution to both countries and societies at the economic, political, security and social levels. For this, they must act in accordance with the basic logic and nature of the negotiations, and both sides must make mutual concessions in this regard. These concessions are not a loss, on the contrary, they will pave the way for significant gains for both sides.


[1] “В Душанбе прошло заседание по делимитации и демаркации таджикско-киргизской границы”, Avesta, http://avesta.tj/2022/11/15/v-dushanbe-proshlo-zasedanie-po-delimitatsii-i-demarkatsii-tadzhiksko-kirgizskoj-granitsy/, (Date of Accession: 16.11.2022).

Dr. Sabir ASKEROĞLU
Dr. Sabir ASKEROĞLU
Lisans öğrenimini Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde tamamlayan Dr. Sabir Askeroğlu, yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda almıştır. Doktora eğitimini İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda tamamlayan Dr. Askeroğlu, çeşitli düşünce kuruluşlarında görev yapmıştır. Başlıca ilgi alanları, Avrasya çalışmaları ve Rus dış politikası olan Dr. Askeroğlu, iyi derecede Rusça ve İngilizce bilmektedir.