DUSHANBE, November 20, 2015, Asia-Plus – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have failed to reach agreement on the disputable stretches of the mutual border.

The Kyrgyz government’s official website reports the two sides have endorsed a draft agreement on 519.9 kilometers of the border but they have failed to reach an agreement on the disputable border areas.

Co-chaired by Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim and First Vice-Premier Aaly Karashev, Tajik-Kyrgyz border talks took place in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, on November 19.

The meeting participants reportedly discussed draft description and line of the disputable stretches of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border and reached an agreement on furthering the issues of delimitation and demarcation of the border and possible exchange of separate land plots.   

Meanwhile, Kyrgyz media in late October cited the then Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Abdyrahman Mamataliyev, as saying that Kyrgyzstan has proposed Tajikistan to exchange the disputable border areas.

“It will be a mutually beneficial exchange -- the sides will receive 12 hectares each. We will receive areas located in the village of Kok-Tash, while the Tajik side will receive areas located below Kok-Tash,” Mamataliyev was cited as saying by AKIpress .

According to him, the two sides have decided not work with different maps.  “We will rely on four agreements: 1) the agreement establishing the CIS; 2) the Almaty declaration; 3) the agreement on the border integrity signed in 1994; and 4) the agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan of 1996 under which we pledged to follow the signed documents,” Kyrgyz vice-premier said.

“98 percent of Kyrgyz-Tajik border will be delineated within the next two years and only areas, where residential buildings are situated in alternate order, will remain to be solved,” Mamataliyev noted.   

We will recall that Kyrgyzstan had previously suggested using the maps of the periods of 1955-1959 for demarcation and delimitation of the disputable stretches of the border while Tajikistan had suggested working with documents and maps of the period of 1924-1927.  The maps of the early 1920s show the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic as incorporating Vorukh within its borders while the maps of the 1950s show Vorukh as an exclave within the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic.

The latest skirmishes sparked by a territorial dispute between residents along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border escalated on August 4, leaving several people injured and damaging multiple homes.

The area at the focus of this and much previous unrest lies on the jagged frontier where the east of Tajikistan’s Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province meet.

The two countries have been unable to agree on the location of the border they inherited when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  They have delimited only about half of the 971 kilometers.  As the population in the dense Ferghana Valley grows, it has become increasingly difficult to demarcate the contested sections, where valuable agricultural land often lies.