On September 16, 2022, armed conflicts resumed on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This has once again demonstrated the need to solve the border problems in the region. Essentially, border disputes between the Central Asian states began to arise during the period of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/the Soviet Union (USSR).
The main reason for the discussions is that the borders drawn violate the natural structure of the region. The borders drawn during the Soviet period were determined according to the conditions and conjuncture of the period. This situation led to a number of conflicts after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The establishment of the Central Asian republics and the creation of borders between them were the product of the work of “Determination of Nation-State Borders in Central Asia”, which was carried out under the auspices of the Soviet Union administration of the period between 1924 and 1936.
Currently, all the Central Asian states are witnessing border disputes. Although agreements on the determination of borders have been signed between the countries of the region, the process of drawing the borders has not yet been completed. However, as a result of long and intensive negotiations, the disputes on the borders of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan-Tajikistan were resolved. The most difficult situation is the occasional use of weapons and the occurrence of conflicts with fatal consequences. The main address of these conflicts is the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, as seen once again as of September 16, 2022. The length of the border between the two countries is 984 km. The section that is the subject of dispute is not the longest part of the border, but it constitutes about 46% of it. However, it is stated that progress has been made in the negotiation processes on a significant part of this 46%.
On the other hand, there are various factors that make it difficult to solve the border problems between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Because the parties have difficulty in solving the problems due to reasons such as transportation, water and land sharing..Moreover, neither country is willing to make concessions either politically or economically. Tertiary actors also have an impact on the failure to solve border problems. Therefore, the regional policies of the great powers complicate the peace processes. However, despite everything, it is seen that the countries of the region have recently tried to overcome the controversial issues by developing the dialogue among themselves.
As it is known, Russia turned its direction to Eastern Europe by declaring war on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. No matter how comprehensive and multilateral cooperation the US wants with the Turkic republics, it is geographically distant from the region. In this case, the countries of Central Asia can solve many problems, including border problems, without the influence of external Powers.
The President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Sadyr Japarov, stated at the 4th Central Asian Heads of State Consultation Meeting held in Cholpan-Ata, Kyrgyzstan on July 21, 2022, that work on the determination of borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan continues. In addition, Mr. Japarov mentioned the importance of taking mutual steps to finalize the borders. Thus, the President of Kyrgyzstan stated that it is possible to turn “the Fergana Valley into a real Central Asian oasis of peace” and put forward an approach that prioritizes common interests among the states of the region.
The Fergana Valley, once known as the ”intersection of Ancient Greek, Chinese, Bactrian and Parthian civilizations” and a developed transit point on the Historical Silk Road, also complicates communication among Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Therefore, the creation of a stable and prosperous Central Asia requires that disputes related to the valley be left in the past with a pragmatic approach based on cooperation.
Currently, the Fergana Valley could become an important regional hub uniting countries such as China, Kazakhstan, Iran and Afghanistan. This potential can be instrumental in increasing the geoeconomic importance of all states that are party to border problems. Therefore, the message given by Mr. Japarov in Cholpan-Ata can be described as the road map of strong Central Asia.
Similarly, Tajikistan has a constructive approach to resolving the issue by peaceful means. In fact, during his visit to Tajikistan’s Sogdi region on April 17, 2022, the President of Tajikistan Imamali Rahman went to the city of Isfara and expressed the need to solve border problems during a conversation with the people here. Moreover, Mr. Rahman described the determination of the borders between the two countries as one of his main priorities in foreign policy.
In addition, the Tajik leader stated that negotiations are of great importance in order to overcome the current problems and called on the people of the region to act tolerantly within the framework of good neighborly relations. In this context, Mr. Rahman said that the process is complicated and that time is needed, but he also emphasized that efforts for peace are too important to be ignored.
Moreover, the fate of the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border concerns not only Bishkek and Dushanbe, but also neighboring capitals, especially Tashkent and Nur-Sultan. In this context, the following words of the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, provide a course for the process:
“All the controversial issues can be resolved only by peaceful means, respecting the basic principles of international law. Delaying or ignoring problems and escalating tensions could override all efforts to improve Central Asia-centric cooperation processes. Kazakhstan knows from its own experience that the process of legal registration of borders is very complex and complicated. However, it is ready to help the solve this problem.”
Consequently, no matter how difficult the process of clarifying the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, the leaders of the Central Asian countries are aware that any dispute within the region will serve actors who want to destabilize the region. This situation makes the resolution of disputes indispensable for all states. Moreover, it is obvious that the conflicts in the region will reflect negatively on all of Central Asia in the context of radicalization and terrorism. Furthermore, an incident that will break out in the Fergana Valley may even lead to a regional war. Therefore, it can be said that the actors are careful to carry out a constructive process based on dialogue.
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 Aynı yer.
 “Казахстан готов оказать содействие в установлении границ другим странам ЦА”, Liter, https://liter.kz/kazakhstan-gotov-okazat-sodeistvie-v-ustanovlenii-granits-drugim-stranam-tsentralnoi-azii-1658383045/ (Date of Accession: 07.09.2022).