Healing Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties bring hopes for new level of relations

Healing Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties bring hopes for new level of relations

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11

By Ali Mustafayev – Trend:

Recent series of diplomatic meetings between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in early September illustrated a significant improvement in ties between the two countries.

The latest diplomatic steps are considered to be effective, first of all because of the meeting between the presidents of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Almazbek Atambayev, which resulted in an agreement on delimitation of 85 percent of borders between the two countries.

The plans to raise trade turnover to $500 million was also positively welcomed by the countries of the region.

“Generally, there are hopes that the bilateral relations between the two countries will reach a new level of development,” political analyst Venera Djumataeva told Trend.

She says Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are related even more than the other countries of the region.

“In Kyrgyzstan, ethnic Uzbeks make up around 15 percent of the population, and almost each of them has a relative in Uzbekistan. The same situation is with ethnic Kyrgyz in Uzbekistan.”

The border issue still remains one of the most pressing ones because of the historical proximity and mixed populations. Nevertheless, the benefits of a potential cooperation between the two countries are irrefutable.

“Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan need each other. It is about Uzbek gas, vehicles, textile, mineral fertilizers and Kyrgyz irrigation water and electricity. Uzbekistan is also interested in building a road to China through the Kyrgyz region of Fergana,” said Djumatayeva.

She says the greatest part of damage is experienced by the people living in both countries’ border territories.

“The tragic picture of relatives and families deprived of seeing each other and a large number of deaths of civilians stepping on mines made this political confrontation one of the most harmful and aggressive conflicts in the region.”

The Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations have long been strained due to a number of issues, including border, water and energy issues, although this situation appears to be changing at the moment.

The meeting between the two presidents was held Sept. 5 and marked a new stage in bilateral relations. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Kyrgyzstan was the first by an Uzbek president in 17 years.

Along with the signed border agreement, the sides voiced desire to reconsider the water and energy issues which caused controversy in the past.

Expectations regarding the long-awaited normalization of relations are nearing a point of realization and the resolution of the row between the significant countries of the region seems to be not far off.

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