The “Achilles” Heel of the Fergana Valley: Tajik-Kyrgyz Border Issue

Similar Posts

Fergana Valley, which is the key of Eurasian geopolitics, has become a geography that hosted the problems between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the Post-Soviet Period. This case deeply undermines the economic and social development of the region. Owing to ethnic and cultural divisions in Fergana, the region turned into the home of instability. This condition affects deeply both the Valley and Central Asia.

The main causes of cross-border conflicts are theses put forward by states at the point of access to water, land, infrastructure, roads and minerals. The reason for the clashes that emerged in the region between 23-30 April 2021 is the tension in the Golovnoy water distribution network in the village of Hocay Alo. At this point, it should be noted that the water distribution area in question was built during the period of the Soviet Union and was intended to supply water to the border regions of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

During the conflict, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the Central Asian countries, clearly expressed their discomfort with the escalation of tension. In this sense, states calling for restraint worry that a war that may break out over the Fergana Valley could turn the whole of Central Asia into a fireball. In the same way, the President of Tajikistan, Imamali Rahman, and the President of Kyrgyzstan, Sadır Caparov, acted with common sense. As a matter of it was announced that the ceasefire was reached after the meeting of Kyrgyzstan National Security President Kamçıbek Taşiev and Tajikistan National Security President Saymumin Yatimov on May 1, 2021.

Taşiyev stated in his meeting with the residents of Maksat village in Batken Region that a peaceful process will be carried out to clarify the 112 km of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border and to negotiate on the disputed border regions on May 2, 2021.[1] Moreover, it has been declared/announced that the leaders of the two countries will meet in Dushanbe in the second week of May 2021. At this meeting, it is envisaged that some agreements will be signed and this problem will be tried to be overcome. This is why the parties withdrew to the land they owned before the conflict on May 3, 2021.

In short, both countries have shown their intention to solve this problem peacefully by ending the conflict. But it is also necessary to include the Uzbekistan in the Fergana peace process. Because one of the sides of the crisis in the Fergana Valley is the Tashkent administration. In this context, the fact that the three states come together and solve the problem among themselves can make the Fergana Valley an area of cooperation, not instability.

Already, Tajikistan is shaping its foreign policy with the precision of building a security belt. That is why it has signed strategic partnership agreements with Central Asian countries other than Kyrgyzstan between 2015 and 2018. The signing of such an agreement between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by overcoming the border issues may be a vital step at the point of establishing stability in the region.

Russia is the main actor who closely follow up the tensions in the region. Because Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zaharova said that they were closely following the developments, but took care to respond in a measured way. The stance of Moscow stems from its desire to mediate in the Fergana Valley.

As a matter of fact, at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Summit in 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed Moscow’s readiness to mediate the border problems between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, during the aforementioned period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan rejected the proposal by sending an official protest note. Perhaps this is why Moscow has been more chary of current conflicts. The stance of the Dushanbe administration in 2020 is very valuable as it reveals the sensitivity of the regional states not to involve tertiary actors in regional problems.

The United States of America is one of the countries that wants to expand their presence in Central Asia by interfering in regional developments. Since while the USA started the process of withdrawal from Afghanistan; is looking for ways to deploy its troops in Central Asia. In this sense, the most appropriate option for The Washington administration is Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which border Afghanistan. Hence, the soaring war bells in the region will please the USA and increase its pressure on the states of the region.

From angle of China, the Fergana Valley is a path that opens to the region and even extends to Iran. Within this framework the Beijing Administration is making remarkable investments in transportation projects involving the region. In point of fact the area has also been an advanced transfer point on the historical Silk Road. Since the Fergana Valley, which served as a crossroads for ancient Greek, Chinese, Bactria, and Parthia civilizations, is today a crossroads of roads and railways that broaden east-west and north-south.

This reveals the geopolitical significance of the region and constitutes the reason why the great states are closely interested in this geography. Herewith, it is essential to transform Central Asia, which is seen as a front of the power struggle between global powers, into a stable and peaceful geography that is closed to foreign intervention. Before anything else/First of all, this is an obligation for the states of the region to sustain their independence. Thereby, during the regional problems, especially the conflicts in the Fergana Valley, it should highlight the possibilities of cooperation not the conflicts of the states of the region.

In the context of this cooperation, it may be a wholesome method for the regional states to look at how the enclave problems in the European Union (EU) are resolved and try to establish a similar union among themselves.

As a result, both the leaders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and the leaders of other Central Asian countries have a great responsibility in solving regional problems, especially in the Fergana Valley. Since it would be appropriate for the states of the region to establish good neighborly relations by respecting each other’s interests and to create a situation of economic interdependence by developing commercial relations.

[1] Pilipenko İ.V., Konkurentosposobnost stran i regionov v mirovom khozyaystve, M. Smolensk, Violence in Jerusalem and the Central Importance of Jerusalem, p. 215.

Obid Barotov, lisans eğitimini 2015 yılında Tacikistan Milli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Fakültesi’nde tamamlamıştır. 2021 yılında ise Bursa Uludağ Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilimdalı’nda savunduğu “Tacikistan’ın Açık Kapı Politikası Çerçevesinde Tacikistan ile Çin’in İlişkisi” başlıklı yüksek lisans teziyle alan uzmanı unvanını almaya hak kazanmıştır. Lisans eğitimi aldığı yıllarda Tacikistan Dışişleri Bakanlığı ve Tacikistan Kültür Bakanlığı’nda staj yapan Barotov; Tacikçe, Farsça, Rusça, İngilizce ve Türkçe bilmektedir.