Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 25, 2016, p. 1
Leader of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev demanded revision of international treaties signed by his predecessors and related to settlement of border issues. This was caused by aggravation of the situation at the pat of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in the area of the Ungar-Too Mountain disputed by Bishkek and Tashkent.
THE DISPUTED BORDER TERRITORY ONCE AGAIN BECAME A REASON OF A CLASH OF BISHKEK AND TASHKENT
Leader of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev demanded revision of international treaties signed by his predecessors and related to settlement of border issues. This was caused by aggravation of the situation at the pat of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in the area of the Ungar-Too Mountain disputed by Bishkek and Tashkent. There is a radio relay station important for both parties located on the mountain. The conflict started growing actively: the Kyrgyz strengthened the border and the Uzbeks sent security agencies to the place of the incident.
According to an order of the President of Kyrgyzstan, state officials will have to conduct “deep revision” of international treaties, agreements, protocols and memorandums.
According to Atambayev, formerly “former residents and other top-ranking officials recognized the rights of the neighboring countries for these or those lands that people of Kyrgyzstan had considered originally Kyrgyz ones. State officials carefully hid information about these “concessions” and so they were not known not only to the people but also to the incumbent authorities of the country including the President.”
The directive to remove dust from documents is explained by a new aggravation of the situation on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. Seven Uzbek policemen landed on the Ungar-Too (Ungar-Tepe in the Uzbek inscription) Mountain disputed by Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Four citizens of Kyrgyzstan who worked at the Kyrgyz radio relay station located on top of the mountain were taken by the Uzbek policemen to the local police precinct. The border guard service of Kyrgyzstan announced that it insisted on return of the unjustly detained citizens.
A week earlier, an incident also happened at another disputed part of the border, the Orto-Tokoy (Kasansay) water reservoir. Armed Kyrgyz servicemen detained and took away an Uzbek policeman. Uzbek sources announced that this was a kidnapping and demanded return of the policeman. Kyrgyz servicemen reported that the policeman was detained for illegal crossing of the state border.
Representatives of the border guard services exchanged their demands: Uzbek serviceman demanded return of the detained policeman and removal of posts near the disputed water reservoir. The Kyrgyz party insisted on immediate evacuation of Uzbek servicemen from the disputed mountain.
A similar incident happens approximately once in three or four months. In separate cases the parties use armored vehicles to indicate their claims for a disputed part of the border.
Disputes around the border have been going on for decades. While the Uzbek and the Kyrgyz soviet socialist republics existed in the framework of a unified state the matter did not come to such noticeable conflicts but after breakup of the USSR the situation grew worse. There are more than 50 disputed parts on the border of the two countries now. The Ungar-Too Mountain is one of them. A land plot of 45 hectares is valuable not only as a strategic height but also as a place for location of a radio relay station a signal of which covers significant territory.
Discussions regarding belonging of the mountain also influenced the mapmaking data. Google Maps service points out that the northern half of the Ungar-Too including the radio relay station is Kyrgyz territory. Yandex-Maps service says that the disputed land plot is located on the territory of Uzbekistan.
Against the background of new aggravation of the situation on the border some mass media reminded that the Kyrgyz party recognized the Ungar-Tepe Mountain as Uzbek territory ten years ago, on September 23 of 2006 according to results of a meeting of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek intergovernmental commission for matters of delimitation and demarcation of the state border in Tashkent. Protocol No. 20 contains a phrase “water tower on the Ungar-Tepe Mountain located on the territory of Uzbekistan.”
Head of the Kyrgyz delegation Salamat Alamanov who signed the protocol in 2006 confirmed authenticity of the document but said that the matter of belonging of the mountain was not settled.
Ten years later, disputes about the territory continue. Uzbekistan points at the aforementioned protocol of 2006, as well as at the protocol signed in 1955 where the currently disputed mountain was attributed to Uzbekistan too. Bishkek keeps saying that the land plot is disputed.
The matter of delimitation remains very painful and complicated. First, both parties consider themselves right, they have contradictory documents and maps that confirm the rights for the disputed territory. Second, in conditions of deficit of pastures, arable land and water sources changes in the borderline may make life of local residents much worse and fate of people and much money is at stake. Third, border issue is very painful in the political aspect. Any concession of territory will become a pretext for acute and strong critique of the authorities. Such precedents in relations of Kyrgyzstan with China and Kazakhstan triggered a stream of resentment and accusations of treachery addressed to two former Kyrgyz presidents Askar Akayev and Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
In the last ten years situation on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border practically did not change. In the current dispute about the Ungar-Too Mountain positions of Kyrgyzstan look weak. There exists a possibility that the land plot will gradually be put under control of Uzbekistan. This is indirectly manifested by the aforementioned directive of President Atambayev. Demanding revision, the leader of the republic actually gives up responsibility for development of the events referring to the documents signed by the previous presidents.