In March 2005, a Kyrgyz frontier post was formed on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the Kyrgyz village of Kulundu and the Tajik village of Ovchi-Kalach. This is despite the fact that on this part of the state border, located in the Fergana Valley, the border has not yet been delimited, and part of the territory of this region is controversial. With the opening of the Kyrgyz border guards, the population of both sides faced many difficulties.
According to Burkhon Sultonov, an employee of the administration of the Tajik kishlak of Ovchi-Kalach, this step of the neighbors “first of all caused dissatisfaction of Tajik citizens, since the Kyrgyz border guards require bribes for each border crossing. Both Tajik and Kyrgyz residents in conversations with us demand that posts be removed. ”
As captain Zamir Bekiev, the head of the Kulunda border post, explained, the border guard from Kyrgyzstan is carried out according to a decree of the government of this country and, therefore, “the border guards in this area settled for a long time, especially since Tajik posts have been here for years.” As for extortion by the border guards, Captain Bekiev said that “he has not yet been approached with such complaints, but if the facts are revealed, the perpetrators will be severely punished.” According to the captain, “those citizens of Tajikistan who graze their cattle on Kyrgyz pastures without any special permission are most likely dissatisfied.”
According to Salimbek Umarov, the head of the neighboring Kyrgyz Kulunda village government, according to the legislation of Kyrgyzstan, it is necessary to pay for the use of pastures at the established tariff. And this despite the fact that just a few months ago, grazing, regardless of the territory of neighboring countries, was not a problem for residents of both countries.
Yunusboi Numonov, a resident of the Tajik kishlak Ovchi Kalacha, believes that “the neighbors' demands are completely fulfilled and people are ready to pay, but they don’t know the mechanism of this procedure, as many are not yet informed. And Kyrgyz border guards, without explaining the reasons, pursue shepherds and often shoot in the air, causing panic. ”
Independent experts are inclined to believe that the Fergana Valley, which includes the territories of three Central Asian countries - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is the most conflict-prone in the region. First of all, this is due to the densely populated area, as well as the problems of crossing the state borders.
Ismat Murzaev is the headman of the Kyrgyz village of Makhsat, which in the territory of Lyaila district believes that border disputes should be resolved only peacefully and without emotions. “Goods are brought from neighboring Tajikistan to the markets of Lyailyak district, so if the border becomes difficult to pass, prices will jump sharply and this will have a negative impact on the economic situation of local residents. Kyrgyz and Tajiks have been living here in good neighborliness for many centuries, and all disputes have always been resolved peacefully. And the authorities should not aggravate the situation with their rash measures. ”
However, the issue of border security and its consequences are not the only ones in the series of emerging disputes in this densely populated border area. A representative of an international humanitarian organization working in the region, who asked not to be named, spoke about a trend that in the future could become a serious problem in maintaining a relatively calm situation in the area.
According to him, some large families from the Tajik village of Ovchi-Kalach suffer from a lack of land for housing construction and, therefore, they voluntarily build housing in the vacant lands behind the outskirts. In Kyrgyzstan, they believe that these sites are located on their territory and regard such construction as the unauthorized seizure of Kyrgyz lands and call this process “creeping migration”.
To stop the expansion of the Tajik village, the Kyrgyz authorities have established a kind of buffer zone here. They built 62 houses along the border and distribute them to their citizens and homestead plots. But Kyrgyz citizens are not in a hurry to settle in new places due to lack of infrastructure and irrigation water. Today, about 30 families live here, while the rest of the houses are empty. In the new village there is only a school consisting of 4 primary classes, and only 2 teachers work in it.
With the support of international donors, an irrigation water pipeline was installed in a new Kyrgyz settlement. But this expensive project is still not working due to the fact that Tajikistan was not provided timely calculations for the protection of groundwater, which caused a lot of controversy.
The Tajik side does not comment on this situation in any way, awaiting the results of the work of the interstate commission on the demarcation of the state border. But, with the definition of the boundary, it is in this area that problems arise. Since the most recent document defining the disputed territories was already compiled in 1925, during the times of the Turkestan Republic, and over the past 80 years, much has changed here.
According to experts, there are still many unsolved problems in this border area of the two Central Asian republics. They also believe that the bureaucratic mechanisms that exist in both countries interfere with problem solving.