Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan agree to a ceasefire after deadly clashes

#GS2 #IR #BORDER ISSUES 

Context:

  • Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Saturday claimed another breakthrough in their bid to end the worst clashes at their shared border in memory as several thousand Kyrgyz demonstrators rallied against what they called an invasion attempt by their Central Asian neighbour.
  • Clashes between communities over land and water along the long-contested border are regular occurrences, with border guards often getting involved. 
  • However, this week’s violence was by far the most serious during the Central Asian pair’s 30 years of independence.

The talks between them

  • Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said that its death toll from the shooting that began between the two militaries on Thursday had reached 34, with a hundred injured.
  • The two Presidents spoke by telephone Monday in a bid to preserve the ceasefire that was agreed on Thursday but which broke down on both Friday and Saturday.
  • That prefaced a meeting of delegations headed by the countries’ respective national security committee chiefs, in which the pair agreed to create working groups to help enforce the ceasefire, Kyrgyzstan’s national security committee said.
  • Russia said it hoped the countries would “strictly follow the commitments made” during bilateral talks.

The timeline 

Claiming the area around the water supply facility

Background: Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have claimed the area around the water supply facility in Kok-Tash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.

 What led to the latest round of Conflict?

  • Surveillance Cameras: The latest conflict erupted when Tajik officials attempted to mount surveillance cameras to monitor the water supply facility amid the tensions over water distribution, and Kyrgyz residents opposed the move.
  • More than 7,000 Kyrgyz residents have been evacuated from the area engulfed by the fighting as troops from the two countries exchanged gunfire around a water supply facility near the village of Kok-Tash, located in western Kyrgyzstan on the border with Tajikistan.

What’s the latest development? 

A ceasefire on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan largely held on April 30 following a day of intense fighting between the two ex-Soviet Central Asian neighbours that killed 39 people and wounded more than 175.

Border dispute between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

  • The fighting has focused on water facilities in territory claimed by both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • Like many parts of Central Asia, the border between the two countries has been a focus of tension for the past 30 years.
  • Before that, it mattered little which bit of territory belonged to whom as people could move freely between Soviet Republics.
  •  But the collapse of the USSR generated hard borders - and potential violence.
  • The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km (600-mile) length is disputed.
  • Restrictions on access to land and water that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
  • The latest fighting was the heaviest in years and has raised fears of a wider conflict between two impoverished neighbours.

Key outputs 

  • Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are both members of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday voiced concern about the conflict and urged them to negotiate a lasting settlement.
  • The European Union on Friday welcomed the cease-fire deal and emphasized the need for a “lasting and peaceful solution.”
  • “Both sides will need to undertake all the necessary steps to avoid any conflict in the future,” EU spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement, adding that the EU stands ready to provide technical assistance on border and water management as well as political support.

 

SOURCE: THE HINDU 

 

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