Mikhail Bushuyev, Deutsche Welle
There are many talks about fortification of Uzbek-Kyrgyz border. But there is no work underway in practice. German experts Beate Eschment spoke about the situation.
Why Uzbekistan has decided to literally insulate oneself from its nearest neighbors - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan? What is fear of Uzbek authorities? How all this can affect the situation in the region? German expert on Central Asia Beate Eschment spoke about it in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
Deutsche Welle: What do you know about situation in borders of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan?
Beate Eschment: At the moment it is not easy to understand what is happening out there, because the views of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek people are different. Just one thing is clear now: Uzbek authorities build border consolidation in their territories.
Q: How Uzbekistan explains its actions?
A: In late May, there were attempt by terrorists to enter the Uzbek territory from the Kyrgyz side. I was provided with such an explanation at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Berlin. According to diplomats, this is not the first time in recent years, so the current acts are committed only in the interests of national security, if Kyrgyzstan is unable to ensure the reliability of its boundaries to prevent entry of armed people to Uzbekistan.
Q: How do recent moves by Uzbekistan look like on background of calls to enhance inter-regional cooperation?
A: In general we can say that the inter-regional cooperation the development of which is largely spoken about in the West with regard to Central Asia, in reality, not reinforced. I recall last fall even representatives of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were complaining that their larger neighbors - Uzbekistan, and, to some extent, Kazakhstan - treat them with a certain arrogance and not taking seriously their concerns. And, unfortunately, not only these statements serve as a symptom of the fact that the cooperation of Central Asian States is not improving. Construction of border fortifications only materializes these problems.
Uzbek diplomats in a conversation with me noted repeatedly that they have demanded Kyrgyz Republic to strengthen protection of its borders, but were unable to find understanding. It seems to me that from the Uzbek viewpoint, the situation is logical, but in a broader context, of course, it is a disaster. However, I never believed in the rant about the development of regional cooperation, and Uzbekistan did not differ for a special zeal. So I do not think the ongoing events are sensation.
Q: Much has been said about the situation on the border of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and almost nothing is known publicly that Uzbek border guards have blocked the disputed area on the Uzbek-Tajik border and that there are also ongoing land work and trenches are being drilled. How does this fact change assessments of the situation?
A: It is not secret tragic cases constantly took place in these two borders where people were killed in shootings. Most recently, a young man was shot dead just for crossing border to buy something. In recent months, these messages appear more frequently. Talking about the digging of trenches, it is worth to remember that mines were laid in other parts of the same Uzbek-Tajik border just a few years ago. So, that is, of course, a bad sign, but comparing these two solutions, one can at least say that the trenches do not have direct threat for cross-border population.
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