Dušanbe and Biškek negotiate borders
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The long-standing issue has dragged on since the dissolution of the USSR. Of 970 km of the border, only 519 are fixed. In the last eight meetings, the two sides have managed to settle only 81 km. The Kyrgyz reopen the border with Kazakhstan, closed to contain Covid-19.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - A series of meetings have begun between Tajiki and Kyrgyz topographers in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, in order to solve once and for all the long-standing issue of border demarcation between the two countries. According to official communiqués, the meeting takes place "in the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding", and a protocol has been drawn up on the conditions to be met, without divulging other details.

The Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced that the next meeting will be held in Kyrgyzstan. The chairman of the Dušanbe Committee for Land Administration and Geodesy, Orif Khodžazod, said that "in order to succeed in completing the previous protocol of May 1, 2021, both sides will need to meet many more times."

In the last eight meetings, the two sides have managed to settle only 81 kilometers of the border in a rather piecemeal fashion, going back to earlier documents from the early Soviet period of 1924-1929 and the Joint Commission of 1989, as the Moscow Empire was dissolving.

The border between the two countries stretches 970 kilometers, of which only 519 kilometers are officially fixed. The other areas, which include water resources and grazing areas, are still disputed, and in recent years there have been frequent armed clashes and skirmishes of all kinds between border guards and local inhabitants.

The most significant armed conflict took place at the end of April last year: 19 Tajiks lost their lives, with 87 wounded; the Kyrgyz had 36 dead and 154 wounded. Dozens of homes have been completely or partially destroyed, and relations between the two countries have remained in a state of strong mutual hostility.

Two years ago, Kyrgyzstan had also blocked the borders with Kazakhstan, not because of conflict, but because of the coronavirus. Since April 11 the borders have been reopened to pedestrians, but not to cars, and there are very long queues of freight trucks at the only crossing point of Ak-Žol. The opening allowed the reunion of many mixed Kazakh-Kyrgyz families living near the border. In the past two years they had to fly to Almaty and then travel back hundreds of kilometers by bus to meet, which was a huge waste of time and money.

Before the pandemic, about 1,500 cars and 10,000 people passed through Ak-Žol every day, which became 2,500 and 35,000 during the tourist season; all stores and stores in the border area were closed during the pandemic. Now other important crossings such as Čaldovar, Ken-Bulun and Tokmok have been reopened, and although rail connections have not yet resumed, life is beginning to resume on Kyrgyzstan's borders.