Kyrgyz Foreign Minister, OSCE Chairman tackle Bishkek-Dushanbe border
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister affirms the commitment of the Kyrgyz Republic to de-escalation and stresses the country’s unchanged position on resolving the situation exclusively through political and diplomatic means.
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Zheenbek Kulubaev met with Zbigniew Rau, the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on Friday, Sputnik reported citing the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry.
"The Kyrgyz side provided up-to-date information [to the OSCE chairman] on the current state of affairs and emphasized the commitment of the Kyrgyz Republic to de-escalation and an unchanged position on resolving the situation exclusively through political and diplomatic means," the ministry’s spokesperson stated.
In the same context, the chairman of the Kyrgyz State Committee on National Security Kamchybek Tashiev said on Friday that many Kyrgyz soldiers were killed in the border clash with Tajikistan, but the country was able to evacuate most civilians from the area on time.
"The military has suffered casualties. We specify the number, but there are unfortunately many [casualties]. More than just civilians were evacuated in time" Tashiev told reporters.
Earlier today, Kyrgyzstan stated its agreement to a ceasefire with its neighbor Tajikistan following a deadly border clash between the two Russian allies that escalated towards the use of tanks and rocket artillery.
The ceasefire was set to take effect from 16:00 local time (10:00 GMT), according to Kyrgyz border guards after Moscow urged for a cessation of hostilities on Friday, and after both parties accused each other of reigniting the conflict along the border that left at least three dead and dozens wounded.
Kyrgyzstan said Tajik forces used tanks, armored personnel carriers, and mortars to enter at least one Kyrgyz village and shelled the airport of the Kyrgyz town of Batken and nearby areas. In response, Tajikistan accused Kyrgyz forces of shelling an outpost alongside seven villages with the use of "heavy weaponry" in the same area, which witnessed similar hostilities last year, almost igniting a war.
Two Tajik border guards were killed earlier this week and the authorities of Isfara stated that one civilian was killed and three were injured. Kyrgyzstan reported 31 injuries overnight in Batken which borders Tajikistan's Sughd region and features a Tajik territory, Vorukh, a key hotspot in recent conflicts.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon both attended a regional security summit in Uzbekistan on Friday, the SCO but there was no mention of the conflict in their speeches.
The poorly demarcated border witnesses clashes between the two former Soviet republics frequently, which usually tend to de-escalate quickly, although last year they almost led to an all-out war. The Polish mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported that the organization issued calls for both countries to reimplement a ceasefire.
Former Soviet pasts
Both countries host Russian military bases and have cordial and close ties with Moscow. The EU and the US have recently sought to meddle in Russia's foreign allies' affairs with the most recent offer the US has made by promising support for Armenia and Azerbaijan in solving their conflict. The intent in doing so is to downplay Russia's influence over the Caucasus and its allies.
Temur Umarov, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace focusing on Central Asia, said the remote and mostly agricultural villages in the conflict do not pose an economical significance, but that both nations have considered them politically significant, adding that both governments have relied on what he called "populist, nationalist rhetoric" that escalated the border situation, making the cessation of the conflict impossible.
Central Asia analyst, Alexander Knyazev, said the sides showed no will to resolve the conflict peacefully and the mutual territorial claims provoked aggressive attitudes on all levels, suggesting that only third-party peacekeepers or mediators could prevent further conflicts by establishing a demilitarised zone in the area.