OPINION - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan calibrate positions on regional security issues
Kazakhstan has potential to play role of peacemaker, as it has emerged as developed and stable state in region
*The author is a UK-based analyst and has worked with universities in three Central Asian countries.
Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have agreed to further deepen the relationship within the framework of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation to boost partnership in trade, industrial, agricultural, business and investment sectors. During his first foreign trip this year that concluded on May 20, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Zhomart discussed a gamut of issues with his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmon in Dushanbe.
Tajikistan’s leadership was eager to propose joint initiatives and partnership proposals to attract investment from Kazakhstan’s business and entrepreneurship sectors.
According to Kazakhstan’s Khabar 24 new channel, the trade between the two countries had decreased by 5% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of a total bilateral trade volume of $ 910 million, Kazakhstan’s exports exceeded $757.5 million comprising wheat, natural gas, oil products, oils, and food products.
Future development of ties envisages creating joint ventures for the processing of agricultural products, the export of environment-friendly products to Kazakhstan, and the creation of unified wholesale distribution centers in Tajikistan.
Kazakhstan’s Alageum Group will install four power transformers with a voltage of 110 kilowatts. According to that group’s chairman, Erkebulan Ilyasov, these transformers will replace existing substations. The two concerned companies concluded an agreement for the supply of equipment at the Kazakh-Tajik business forum held in Dushanbe. Representatives of about 20 companies operating in various fields had arrived in Dushanbe for business talks.
The two sides also agreed on promoting transport cooperation in the field of railways. There are two Kazakh locomotives in Tajikistan’s railway fleet. A new contract has been signed for the supply of four more engines. Tajikistan is also interested in cooperation with Kazakhstan on the digitization of the economy, innovation, and the import of modern technologies.
The safe city traffic monitoring system developed in Kazakhstan operates in Dushanbe. Cameras installed on the roads significantly reduce the number of traffic violations. Now they are also thinking about monitoring selected public places. Kazakhstan’s "Sergek" surveillance system has aroused interest in Tajikistan. It is a radical solution providing the maximum-security through video surveillance systems, automatic photo, and video recording.
The visit has helped the two neighboring Central Asia states to calibrate their positions on security issues in their immediate neighborhood; the progress of integration efforts in the post-Soviet space region, and in the wider talk about preventive measures to have a better handle on the situation in neighboring Afghanistan.
Lack of agreement on borders
The lack of agreement over borders is at the core of the tension between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which once again led to the recent flare-up. Experts believe that the solution lies not only in the demarcation of borders but more importantly in agreeing to the joint use of land and water resources and cross-border roads.
Alexander Kobrinsky from the Russian Centre for Ethno-National Strategies says that the role of a peacemaker suits Kazakhstan as it has emerged as developed and a stable state over the past 30 years. It has the potential to influence allies in the regional security architecture. Kazakhstan can offer the role of a mediator to both countries. However, the peacekeeping mission is successful only when the aggrieved parties are genuinely interested in peace. Otherwise, if there is no effective mechanism to resolve the conflict, the peacekeeper can only police the conflict.
Most often, disagreements arise due to unresolved issues related to the distribution of water and land, drug smuggling, and illegal border crossings said Tajik analyst Parviz Mullojanov.
He said the lack of joint resolution over disputed border territories, and mutual mistrust between the two governments, contributed to recent border clashes that flared up from April 28-May 1.
Over one-third of the 972 kilometers (603 miles) border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remains a source of anxiety in absence of any agreement on the final settlement.
Andrei Kazantsev, an expert in world economy and politics, believes that Kazakhstan’s president can offer even-handed mediation in the running conflict over land and water resources in the Ferghana valley where their borders meet.
Since Kazakhstan enjoys good relations with both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and commands respect among all its Central Asian neighbors, it has the potential to ease tensions. He also noted that lately, the relations between these countries are improving because Uzbekistan is also pursuing to bring these two neighbors together.
**Opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.