Border conflict in CA can’t be resolved without political will – expert

Border conflicts in Central Asia over the past three decades have become the norm rather than an extraordinary event, writes

The borders of the new republics after the collapse of the USSR became the cause of constant incidents of varying degrees of intensity. However, even against this background, the clashes that took place between the Kyrgyz and Tajik military personnel in the midst of the SCO summit in Samarkand are shocking in their intensity, the number of victims and the volume of destruction, the Uzbek site emphasizes. correspondent spoke with
Director of the Center for Research Initiatives “Ma’no” Bakhtiyor Ergashev shared his opinion with the site about why this time the border conflict almost escalated into a full-scale war, how this will affect the integration processes in Central Asia and whether such a situation could happen on our border .

Now we can definitely say that the conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is developing in the logic of constant escalation, the expert says. This is evidenced by the ever-increasing number of weapons used – this time it has reached multiple launch rocket systems and combat drones, as well as the scale of destruction of infrastructure facilities, housing and the number of victims.

Any military conflict is a fertile field for conspiracy theories, Ergashev believes. Indeed, in various social networks and the media, many opinions have appeared about who is behind these clashes: some associate the aggravation of the conflict with the SCO summit, others believe that Russia is involved in this.

“When a country cannot or does not want to solve a problem, the conspiracy theory game begins. This is an unhealthy and infantile position that should not be taken by the leadership of certain countries or experts who serve various interests,” the expert believes.

He argues that one must think objectively, taking into account all the events that take place, and not pulling them out of context.

“Why does Russia, which is currently conducting a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine, also need problems in the southern “underbelly”? Why does China need this conflict, which has its own problems with Taiwan, and which has always looked at Central Asia as a strategic rear, where should there be calm? When you ask such questions, supporters of conspiracy theories cannot answer them,” the source said.

In any such conflict, he added, there is external influence, so in this case it is necessary to understand who benefits from it.

“Definitely, neither China nor Russia would benefit from a military conflict smoldering in their strategic rear areas. There are other countries that would like to blow up the situation in the South Caucasus, so that Russia would have a hard time, and in Central Asia. And this is, first of all, the Western bloc in led by the US and the UK, we all understand this. They would love to do it. I understand that experts should work off the money of their donors, but the analytics should still be more or less objective. We need to move away from conspiracy theories and look for real reasons” , the expert stressed.

He sees the root cause of these events in the fact that neither the leadership and politicians of Kyrgyzstan, nor the ruling regime of Tajikistan are ready for systematic work to delimit problem areas of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

Border settlement always involves a compromise. Mutual exchange of territories may not always be equal, one of the parties must concede in any case. Therefore, political will and desire to resolve this issue are needed, Ergashev says.

“If there is no political will, then these issues, due to their complexity and political sensitivity, will never be resolved. Unfortunately, both sides lack it. They have turned the issue of border settlement into a matter of almost a national idea. Any concession in this direction is regarded as betrayal. They have driven themselves into a situation of impasse and do not know how to get out, “says the expert.

He further added that in 2017, Uzbekistan began a policy of avoiding confrontation in the region and launched a real process of regional cooperation and partnership. These efforts resulted in the emergence of a consultative summit of the heads of state of Central Asia. Three such meetings have been held since 2018, where the most important decisions were made to bring the countries of the region closer together.

“Such conflicts are like a knife in the back. Everyone should understand this responsibility. This is a very bad trigger that will slow down the processes of regional interaction and cooperation, will interfere with the implementation of economic and humanitarian projects that are already included in the roadmaps for regional cooperation approved by the heads of state at these summits. Unfortunately, this does not work for the development of a positive process that has been observed since 2017,” Ergashev stressed.

At the same time, Ergashev says that he is not a supporter of alarmism. In his opinion, military actions on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will lead to an explosion of the entire region. This will not happen, says the expert. There are also Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and China, which once again stop this threat. Now the degree of hostilities is significantly reduced.

According to Bakhtiyor Ergashev, since 2017, slightly more than 10% of the plots on the border with Kyrgyzstan and almost 30% with Tajikistan remain unregulated in Uzbekistan. At the end of March last year, our country signed an agreement with Kyrgyzstan on the delimitation of the most problematic disputed territories on the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border in the area of ​​the Orto-Tokoi and Andijan reservoirs.

“The end of March 2021 showed the difference between the two positions. It seems that everything was agreed on, but less than a week later, the Kyrgyz side refused to implement this agreement, because some group of people opposed the exchange of territories. At the same time, Uzbekistan found in itself a political the will to do away with this issue, and made serious, unbalanced territorial concessions.Instead of several hundred hectares, our country ceded several thousand hectares of its land in two plots.When there is political will, all issues can be resolved.But when the solution of the problem is raised to the rank of domestic political intrigue and various political groups begin to use this issue in their own interests, disturbing society, then there will be no changes,” he stressed.

At the same time, the expert said, serious progress is now being observed in the issue of the Uzbek-Tajik border settlement.

“There is a very high probability that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will reach a full-fledged agreement on the delimitation of the entire border line in the next year and a half. Work is underway when the whole process does not turn into a subject of internal political bargaining,” the political scientist concluded.

Sept. 22, 2022