Staunton, December 26 – Yesterday, Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Zheenbekov said he was prepared to swap territories with Tajikistan in order to end the violence that has continued along that border and especially around the non-contiguous enclaves on both sides since the start of this year (stanradar.com/news/full/37674-kyrgyzstan-gotov-obmenjatsja-s-tadzhikistanom-pogranichnymi-territorijami.html).
He said that he had discussed the border with Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon on numerous occasions, adding that “the issue with Tajikistan is complicated. Talks are moving forward but so far only with small steps. Work is not being carried out at the level at which we would like.” He added he had already resolved border issues with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The Kyrgyz-Uzbek border dispute was resolved last summer by the swapping of small territories, and clashes there have ended as a result (currenttime.tv/a/30160536.html and (russian.eurasianet.org/кыргызстан-и-узбекистан-обмениваются-землями-в-рамках-исторического-соглашения), and clearly Bishkek hopes the same thing will be possible with Tajikistan.
The challenges are greater for two reasons. On the one hand, the exclaves in the two countries are larger and would thus require greater amounts of land to be exchanged. And on the other, because there has been more violence between the Kyrgyz and Tajiks, feelings on the two sides, exacerbated by drug traders as well, are far higher.
Those in the two countries opposed to changing borders have been supported by Moscow officialswho fear any change in borders anywhere could open a Pandora’s box. But now there are indications that Moscow may have concluded that violence is a bigger threat than border changes would be (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/kyrgyzstan-and-tajikistan-could-solve.html).
Zheenbekov’s statement gives even more reason for optimism that the violence along the border between his country and Tajikistan will ease and that the exclave Barukh will soon be an exclave no longer. (On this problem, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/08/can-central-asias-complex.html.)
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