Peace with Tajikistan not possible for now: Kyrgyzstan’s defense ministry

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Kyrgyzstan’s defense ministry said Wednesday that peace with Tajikistan was not possible under the current circumstances, a month after border clashes between the two Central Asian neighbors left around a hundred people dead.

Tajikistan later accused its neighbor of seeking to “escalate” the situation near the border.

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Clashes regularly erupt between the two former Soviet republics, as around half of their 970-kilometer (600-mile) border has been contested since the end of the Soviet Union.

Fighting last month in the southern Kyrgyz region of Batken, bordering Tajikistan, left around a hundred dead according to authorities from both sides.

Both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional military alliance.

Kyrgyz Defense Minister Baktybek Bekbolotov said Wednesday that he recently met with CSTO Secretary-General Stanislav Zas and “told him that there would be no peace between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.”

“Kyrgyz people have their truth, Tajik people have theirs,” Bekbolotov told a press conference in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.

“Until an arbitrator comes between us, there will be no peace,” he added.

He suggested the deployment of a “small contingent” of CSTO peacekeepers that would carry out “ceasefire control and the withdrawal of heavy equipment from the border.”

According to the minister, Kyrgyzstan is also purchasing S-125 “Pechora-2BM” missile systems from Belarus, which will be delivered “by the end of the month” and deployed in the boder town of Batken.

A spokesperson for the Kyrgyz parliament told Russian news agency TASS that on Thursday lawmakers will consider a bill facilitating the procedure for firearms permits in the border regions with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Also on Wednesday, Tajikistan’s border guard service accused Kyrgyzstan of “deliberate actions to escalate the situation in the border areas,” the Khovar news agency reported.

It accused Kyrgyzstan of repeated “violations” of the Tajik airspace, including near the town of Isfara close to Batken.

Earlier this week, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to help resolve the border dispute.

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