Tajikistan- Uzbekistan: meandering border

Tajikistan- Uzbekistan: meandering  border

Vitaliy Volkov, Deutsche Welle

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from time to time accused each other of discriminatory policies in the border areas. These criticisms relate to the unresolved problems in the area.

There were mutual claims on land border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. These claims are often presented at the level of local authorities, rather than at the level of highest state agencies. Commentator for Uzbekistan Dmitriy Alyaev answers to questions of the Deutsche Welle about the reasons for those claims and conflict.

Deutsche Welle: Can we say that there is a tendency to transfer the problems of bilateral relations on the local administration level?

Dmitriy Alyaev: The other day, media has released information about the whole village in Tajikistan, the residents of which was mainly Uzbek citizens, was forced to become a Tajik citizenship. Otherwise, they were threatened to be deported from Uzbekistan. The issue was about the Turukshurnavo settlement, which is located in Penjikent region of Tajikistan on the border with the Samrkand province of Uzbekistan.

For example, in January 2008, the Gazeta.ru information website reported about "purposeful" policy of forced resettlement of ethnic Uzbeks from not concerted border areas of Uzbekistan with the Interparliamentary Commission. The Turukshurnavo settlement and several other areas of the Spitamen regions were also included into the list.

The website has information that the Tajik government considers plans about obligatory resettlement of native Uzbek speaking residents, living in regions bordered with Uzbekistan, to Tajikistan but inhabit their lands with Tajiks, website reported. 

According to the last events, nobody resettled anyone over a year. Nobody obliged residents of Turukshurnavo to get Tajik citizenship. 

It must be noted that problems occur in Sogudi region of Tajikistan. Roughly half of 1,500-kilometer Uzbek-Tajik border falls on this region. Border is very meandering there. The territory has not been determined over 10 years. There are many disputable territories in this region. 

Q: What problems can occur if the agreement about state border has been signed?

A: The agreement on Uzbek-Tajik state border between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Tajikistan dated October 5, 2002 has come into force in March 2009 after ratifying by the Uzbek Parliament. According to the Uzbek side, overwhelming part of joint border has been determined. Delimitation of small plots of border to be completed by late 2009 remained. But I repeat that it is official point of view.

For example, big plots of border were demarked in early century. I saw that these plots were not only demarked but enclosed with barbed wire from the Uzbek side. So, I do not think that this process will go off smoothly. Borders were initially defined in this region in a strange way.

For example, Uzbek Tajiks said in Samarqand that Samarqand was initially Tajik town. But settlements around Samarqand, including Tajikistan's Penjikent region bordered with Samarqand in which Turukshurnavo settlement is situated, were always inhabited by ethnic Uzbeks.  

So, there were always disputes.

I do not exclude that Uzbek citizenship was given to residents of these villages by Uzbek authority advisedly. It is more evident after Russian-Georgian conflict in Ossetia. Russian citizenship was also given to Georgian residents in Ossetia. It was one of reasons deteriorating relations. The same situation can occur in this case.

Tajik side's anxiety on this regards is understandable. They do not exclude claims made by Uzbekistan concerning these territories. Fortunately, there was precedent in community.  

Q: How will Uzbekistan react to information about prudential "citinizing" of Uzbek citizens in Tajikistan?

A: No reaction has been produced. In any case, no official statement has been made. We do not know the attitude of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry towards the issue. The Ministry is recording the cases and defining own position. Observers believe that if the problem to grow, then Azerbaijan official reaction ill be made.

The pressure on local residents may be considered not as an official policy of Dushanbe, but as initiative of local administrations. Therefore, there was made no reaction. However, the problem will show up.

Opinions expressed in this article may be different of those held by Trend

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