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“Border Normalization” Paves The Way For Restoring Stability Between Tajikistan And Kyrgyzstan

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After the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, located in Central Asia, accepted the transfer of the disputed border crossing points to the depth of their territories, regional and international parties are betting that this step will constitute a ground to avoid any direct clash due to border disputes, similar to the clashes that occurred between them at the end last April, and resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. The agreement, which also included the withdrawal of troops from the border, came as a result of negotiations between the leaders of the intelligence services of the two countries on the demarcation of the border, on 4 and 5 June, after they were on the brink of a new clash, which was avoided despite the fact that the Kyrgyz authorities were preparing for the worst scenarios by evacuating Inhabitants of the border villages.

The protocol of the agreement included eight points, the most important of which relate to the transfer of the disputed border points to a distance of three kilometers from the border, the withdrawal of forces to the permanent stationing sites, and the agreement to expedite the description of the state’s borders in preparation for their demarcation, in addition to conducting awareness campaigns with the residents of border villages, and not handing over means of transportation. Notify except the information agreed upon in advance to avoid any inflammatory statements. As soon as the agreement was signed, the residents of the border villages returned to their homes.

The protocol of the agreement included eight points, the most important of which is related to the transfer of border points

In this context, the head of the “Eurasian Center for Analysis” in Moscow, Nikita Mendkovich, attributes the tension on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border to maintaining the borders drawn during the Soviet Union era (1917-1991) without taking into account the ethnic composition of the surrounding villages. At the same time, it is likely that the situation will stabilize, after the demarcation of the borders between the two countries and the promotion of economic cooperation between them.

In an interview with the media, Mindkovich says that “since the end of last April, there has been no escalation on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, with the exception of a local incident last week. The essence of the dispute lies in the failure to complete the border demarcation process after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Caliphate, Tajik and Kyrgyz enclaves surrounded by the territory of the other country. In the Soviet era, these were just administrative borders that had no effect within one state, but there are actual borders now.” However, this does not prevent him from considering the last agreement as positive. He expected his steadfastness, because “since the end of last April, all measures have been taken to prevent any new escalation, and the secretariat of the Collective Security Organization”, a regional alliance that includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, has intervened.

Mindkovich believes that the final settlement of the Tajik-Kyrgyz crisis will only be achieved by advancing economic cooperation between the two countries. The border is now completely peaceful.”

In turn, the Russian newspaper “Kommersant” recently published a report entitled “Civilized Divorce between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan”, in which it surveyed the opinions of experts who considered that the troop withdrawal agreement could be considered a success, stressing the importance of monitoring its fulfillment.

The Kyrgyz political analyst, Kubatbek Rahimov, likened what happened on the border to a “vaccine”. The former adviser to the Cabinet for Macroeconomics and Eurasian Integration between 2019 and 2020, told Kommersant that, “Most likely, you have to catch a disease in order to realize the importance of preventive measures. It is true that the agreement is a show and has a promotional purpose, but there is also an advantage, The two sides demonstrated their ability to reach an agreement, and tested the degree of tension in society.”

A kind of seat belt is created to rule out the possibility of future accidents

As for the Tajik political analyst, Parviz Muluganov, he also told “Kommersant” that “a kind of safety belt is being created to exclude the possibility of armed incidents between the personnel of the two countries’ forces.” However, Mologanov attributed the instability factor to the situation in Kyrgyzstan specifically, with the duo of the country’s president, Sadir Gabarov, and the head of the National Security Committee, Kamchebek Tashiev, having to “review before society a firm stance on border issues,” according to his belief.

On the other hand, the Russian expert on Central Asian affairs, Arkady Dubnov, did not express the same degree of optimism, telling the same newspaper, “The signing of the protocol can be welcomed, but it is very difficult to monitor its fulfillment precisely. Before that, the border guards were not They coordinate their actions not only with each other, but also with their managers, which leads to accidents.” He downplayed “the ability of the Kyrgyz and Tajiks to settle this issue on the basis of their own awareness without an outside observer.”

Thus, the Tajik-Kyrgyz border was added to the list of hotspots for Russia’s concerns in its Soviet-era back gardens, along with Belarus, which witnessed mass demonstrations against President Alexander Lukashenko last year, the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the Donbass region in the east Ukraine, and the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova.

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