Kyrgyzstan to reopen road through Uzbek enclave

A road leading from Uzbekistan to Sokh—an Uzbekistani enclave surrounded by Kyrgyz territory—is set to open today. The breakthrough is

Photo: Reuters

A road leading from Uzbekistan to Sokh—an Uzbekistani enclave surrounded by Kyrgyz territory—is set to open today.

The breakthrough is part of an ongoing agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to resolve a decades-old border dispute. The nations’ difficulties in delimitating an array of segments along the 1,314 kilometre border have long hindered endeavours to improve relations. Following new Kyrgyzstani President Sadyr Japarov’s visit to Tashkent earlier this month, the two sides may have reached a tenuous resolution. The deal will see Kyrgyzstan maintain a majority of the disputed land, while Uzbekistan will gain the right to access key irrigational reservoirs in Kyrgyzstani territory.

Regardless, prevailing nationalist sentiments still threaten to undermine regional peace. Both Tashkent and Bishkek have reserved the right to “conduct explanatory work among the population” before ratifying the accord. This could trigger unexpected dilemmas due to non-conciliatory attitudes among local populations.

Despite potential roadblocks ahead, expect Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to uphold the preliminary agreement. Neither side desires a breakdown in talks after investing significant political capital in the deal. Expect violence among the local Uzbek and Kyrgyz residents to subside in the upcoming months. Likewise, a substantial increase in cross-border transportation and trade—especially in agriculture—is likely.

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