Staunton, February 24 – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to swap 23 hectares of land in the hopes that this will ease border tensions and end the violence that has marred their relations in recent months (asiaplustj.info/ru/news/tajikistan/security/20200224/bishkek-i-dushanbe-dogovorilis-obmenyatsya-23-gektarami-zemli).
At a meeting last weekend in the Kyrgyz city of Batken, Tajikistan’s Asia-Plus news agency reports, the two sides agreed “for the first time in the history of their bilateral relations” to swap territories, something that happened numerous times before 1991 but that neither has been willing to do since, given the sensitivity of borders in the region and internationally.
No formal announcement has been made, but the Tajik news agency says that its source is “close to the Tajik delegation.” The source said, however, that he could not specify exactly which parcels of land would be exchanged, an indication of just how potentially explosive such an arrangement will be.
Other reports about this agreement were less cautious than the Asia-Plus original on which they appear to be based. (See topwar.ru/168241-kirgizija-i-tadzhikistan-proizvedut-obmen-territorijami.html, tajikta.tj/ru/news/v-batkene-tadzhikistan-i-kyrgyzstan-obsudili-vzaimoobmen-ravnoznachnymi-prigranichnymi-uchastkami and ia-centr.ru/publications/23-gektarami-zemli-reshili-obmenyatsya-kyrgyzstan-i-tadzhikistan/.)
The reported agreement is likely to be confirmed or denied at the next session of the bilateral border commission, now scheduled for the end of March. Many in both countries and elsewhere in the former Soviet space will be watching because any such exchange of territory could provide a precedent for solving border disputes elsewhere.