Staunton, March 25 – Two weeks ago, the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan committed their countries to resolving their long-running border dispute. Such declarations have been a frequent feature of bilateral talks, but they have often foundered on the details. Now, however, the sides have reached an agreement.
Just how complicated and balanced the new agreement is in its exchange of territory underscores just how difficult it is for any of the former Soviet republics to reach agreements, and also suggests that there will be people in both countries who will resent the concessions their government made and ignore the gains they have pocketed.
One cannot exclude that happening again in this case, but the accord, the details of which were published today (kg.akipress.org/news:1690928/) certainly suggest that there is more hope that this is a settlement that will stick and that the claims by both sides that the border dispute has been solved are justified (kg.akipress.org/news:1690923).
In presenting the protocol the two sides have signed, Kamychybek Tashiyev, the head of the Kyrgyzstan State Committee on National Security, said that neither side had won or lost because “all decisions had been taken on the basis of mutual agreement.” And they involved a large number of relatively small but hitherto contentious issues.
Perhaps most important, the two governments agreed that the Kempirabad reservoir would remain part of Uzbekistan but “on the condition that it will be jointly administered” and that Tashkent will not build any structures or firms on its shores that will use water from the reservoir.
To secure Bishkek’s agreement, the protocol specifies that Uzbekistan will give Kyrgyzstan a thousand hectares of land as “compensation.” This involves small grants of land that adjust the existing border between Uzbekistan’s Andizhan Oblast and Kyrgyzstan rather than one large piece. Each of these small shifts is listed in the protocol.
What is not mentioned is thus a source of concern are the enclaves/exclaves each country has in locations that are surrounded entirely by the country of the other. Presumably the sides have agreed to access, but any mention of corridors might have been too explosive to allow for an accord (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/borders-and-enclaves-set-up-in-soviet.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/kyrgyzstan-and-tajikistan-could-solve.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/08/can-central-asias-complex.html).