Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan may be close to striking a border delimitation deal that could mitigate the occasional flare-ups of unrest among communities in disputed areas.
Speaking on October 27, Kyrgyz deputy prime minister Abdyrahman Mamataliyev hailed the proposed land swap as a historic turning point, CA-News reported.
“This will be a mutually advantageous exchange — 12 hectares apiece. We will receive plots in the village of Kok-Tash, where a cemetery is located. They will get plots lower down from this village,” said Mamataliyev, whose ministerial brief includes border issues.
Negotiations on settling land disputes have long been hindered by each side’s insistence on sticking to delimitations dating back to the Soviet era, when the location of any particular border was of little real significance.
Tajikistan has suggested agreeing to a delimitation established in documents dating back to 1924-27, while Kyrgyzstan insists on a 1958 border. The latter arrangement was at the time approved by the Kyrgyz government, but not Tajikistan’s Supreme Soviet.
But Mamataliyev said the proposed solution has been hammered out without recourse to any historic maps.
A Tajik delegation is reportedly set to travel to Kyrgyzstan on November 5 with Bishkek’s proposals in hand.
Mamataliyev said he was confident the border problems would be settled within the coming two years and that the chief problem remains what he described as the checkerboard pattern of home ownership.
Tajiks and Kyrgyz own homes standing side by side along the streets of Kok-Tash, which mingles indistinguishably into the village that Tajiks know as Somonien. Drawing a clear and workable border between the two communities would be all but impossible without substantial relocation efforts.
One recent notable incident of inter-community rioting occurred in early August and was sparked by a dispute about the Kyrgyz community’s access to an old burial ground. Tajiks said the Kyrgyz had blocked a water canal irrigating their crops in a bid to forcibly settle the issue.
According to official figures, eight border clashes have taken place since the start of 2015.