New vector of relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
Disputes and conflicts in relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, because of unresolved issue of delimitation and demarcation of borders between the two countries, have been existing for many years. There were many incidents between the two countries, when the military was deployed at the border complicating movement of inhabitants of the enclaves, and so on. In addition, the Uzbek side had been expressing claims to Kyrgyzstan on water issues directly and indirectly. Nevertheless, both countries did not allow aggravation of incidents that could lead to large-scale conflicts.
Recent progress in relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan indicate a promising future, which will solve the problems accumulated over two and a half decades.
Restart of relations and warm welcome
For the first time in many years, the Kyrgyz delegation headed by First Vice Prime Minister of the republic Mukhametkaly Abulgaziev, visited the neighboring country. A warm welcome, which was organized in honor of the Kyrgyz side, has become an indicator of Uzbekistan’s desire to improve relations with neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The visit is resulted in signing a Memorandum on mutual cooperation between the three regions of the two countries.
Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Tokon Mamytov said that this is a very promising agreement. "In the 90s and 2000s there were fraternization, songs, meetings, rallies and slogans. Then the two presidents of Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbek side has told each other very kind words, but after all these ended with demarches, misunderstandings and accusations. However, it is good that all these happened in the correct form, and I hope that the meeting, which took place in early October 2016, will leads us to the agreement that we signed with Uzbekistan in 1997 on eternal friendship," he said.
Mamytov also said that the Andijan memorandum, which is signed in Uzbekistan, will not end like the previous minutes and agreements with dead-end, but be a push to make the signed agreement on eternal friendship between our two countries work.
He also believes that in contrast to previous meetings held between the two countries, the last one gives the hope to a promising future.
Local experts also point to the fact that Uzbek officials have been telling the kind words previously, but this time the situation is more serious.
"The fact that Uzbekistan began to establish bilateral relations is an indicator of "restart", or reformatting of new Uzbekistan and this is the new version," political scientist, expert on international affairs and conflict Edil Osmonbetov said.
"Taking into account our relations for 25 years, the recent visit of the delegation from Kyrgyzstan at the invitation of the Uzbek side is a sign of improving relations between the two countries. Of course, its too early to draw conclusions about the future, but the warm welcome with oriental hospitality tells about a promising future," the analyst said.
He also said that the improvement of relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is a unique situation, and the acting president of Uzbekistan is a new man and he will do new things.
Political analyst Igor Shestakov also reminded that in the early 90ies of the last century, the relationship between the two countries were warm. "But as you know, after the Batken events in 1999, Uzbekistan started the policy to strengthen the security. In recent years, particularly over the past three years, there were no official high-level contacts between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Moreover, the disagreement due to border problems affects the trade-economic situation of the two countries and the security throughout the Ferghana Valley. Because extremists and terrorists could take advantage of the complex relationships," he added.
The issue of borders
Recent media reports indicates that the new leadership of neighboring Uzbekistan, except the desire to improve the friendly and neighborly relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, also started to make efforts to address the issues in other areas of cooperation, especially on border issues.
Since independence, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan held a number of talks to discuss the issue of delimitation and demarcation of borders, but the problem is not resolved yet. Both countries refer to different maps of different times, which greatly complicate the solution of vital issues.
Acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that the problem of border, has become a heavy burden, which he had inherited. And he is going to solve it, in order to not to come back later to this issue. With Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, the Uzbek side has already decided the border issues, except a small section of the Tajik-Uzbek border of approximately 5 km length. The border issue remains open with Kyrgyzstan because of the enclaves on both sides and 1378 km of the border.
The solution of border issues along with the improvement of relations between the two countries will give a greater potential for development of the two countries and the region as a whole.
"Each state has its own national interests, which they will defend. During our meeting with the prime minister after Karimov’s funeral Mirziyoyev raised this issue himself. He said that this problem has become for him a heavy burden. The Uzbek Prime Minister expressed his willingness to compromise. Because the disputed territory on the border have always been an element of instability. The situation is inconvenient for both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In general, I see positive developments in this direction. And the commission has already started work on delimitation and demarcation of borders," member of Kyrgyz Parliament Anvar Artykov said.
Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Tokon Mamytov said that he studied the experience of the settlement of the border issue of Uzbekistan with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. "And they solved the issue by exchanging some territories," he said.
Some political groups have proposed the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to do the same step, but the proposal has not received development for various reasons.
Mamytov also said that, we must not think that if the leadership of the neighboring country changed, all issues can be resolved here and now. "We need to solve them carefully, slowly, and with a serious approach on the basis of the analysis and examination of documents," Mamytov added.
In addition, the Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic believes that the current uncertainty of the border is disadvantageous to both sides.
"In some cases, they cannot be solved over the centuries, but in the age of globalization, the burning question comes to the fore. Taking into account the new situation and new processes of the Kyrgyz government, neighboring Uzbekistan and other countries its necessary to make every effort to speed up the process, and it was completed," Mamytov said.
Shestakov is also not sure that the border issues that have accumulated over 20 years, will be solved so quickly. In his opinion, there will be debates, but at the level of dialogue.
"It is the most important. In addition, it is possible that there will be trade and economic projects. I think Uzbekistan will cooperate with the Eurasian Economic Union. Because the most of migrants in Russia are from Uzbekistan. There are Uzbek migrants in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as well. Therefore, in this regard it is likely the neighboring country will consider its membership in the EEU," the analyst added.
Being familiar with the pressing issues Mamytov stressed that Kyrgyzstan’s position in matters of borders has always been clear. "We have always said that we are ready to discuss and resolve this issue. But delegations of neighboring countries sometimes ignored meetings and sessions, postpone them or do not come to the scheduled event. Not Kyrgyzstan refused to solve this issue and there were no facts that the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic refused to go to discuss border issues. On the contrary the Kyrgyz Government has sought meetings, discussions. I think that in view of the above, the neighboring state will address this issue," he said.
Based on the above, one can assume that the stated desire of the Uzbek authorities to find a solution to the issues in various fields with neighboring countries will not only strengthen good-neighborly relations in the future, but also to benefit all countries in the region, including Kyrgyzstan.
Kabar News Agency
Translated from Russian