Land Agreement Expected in Kyrgyz-Tajik Conflict

A long-standing border dispute between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which has sparked deadly clashes in recent years, may soon be resolved with a landmark agreement expected to be signed in March, according to Turkey’s foreign minister.

Hakan Fidan, who visited both Central Asian countries this week, announced the news after meeting with Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, on Monday. He said Turkey, as a brotherly country interested in the region, attached importance to the agreement, which would be a major step in ensuring security and stability in Central Asia.

The Kyrgyz-Tajik border, spanning nearly 1,000 kilometers, has been a source of contention since negotiations began in December 2002. Currently, approximately one-third of the border remains undefined, leading to intermittent clashes between the two nations over the years.

The most recent and violent outbreak occurred in September 2022, when four days of fighting left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured on both sides. The conflict also displaced thousands of civilians and damaged infrastructure and property.

The main trigger for the clashes was the disputed use of the Vorukh-Khojai A’lo road, which crosses Kyrgyz territory and links the mainland of Tajikistan to the densely populated Tajik enclave of Vorukh. The point where the Kyrgyz and Tajik roads intersect has long served as a flashpoint for confrontations between local residents.

According to Fidan, a breakthrough solution had been agreed on how to manage the use of the road, which would pave the way for the finalization of the border deal. He did not disclose any details of the agreement, but said it would be based on mutual respect and compromise.

The announcement by the Turkish envoy was welcomed by both Kyrgyz and Tajik officials, who confirmed that the negotiations were in the final stages and that the agreement would be signed soon.

The Turkish diplomat’s visit to the region also highlighted the deepening ties between Turkey and the Central Asian countries, especially in the fields of defense and security. Turkey, which shares linguistic and cultural ties with the Turkic-speaking Kyrgyzstan, has provided military training and equipment to the country, including Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drones.

Turkey has also expressed its support for Tajikistan, which shares an extensive border with Afghanistan, in maintaining its integrity and combating terrorism. Fidan said Turkey and Tajikistan had discussed ways to enhance their cooperation on border security and counterterrorism, and to prevent radical groups from recruiting Tajik citizens.

Fidan also revealed that President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan was planning to visit Tajikistan later this year, in a further testament to the strengthening relations between the two countries.

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