Tajik political scientist Abdughani Mamadazimov, was born in Ovchi-Qalacha, which is the latest unrest flashpoint, told Eurasianet that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are suffering from a chronic lack of crisis management abilities at the border. 

“In our countries, the norm is for everything to be decided by the top figures [presidents]. But for those top people to make a decision, we need to put together a highly qualified commission and arrive at optimal consensual agreements,” Mamadazimov said.

“I do not like to make predictions, but if this issue is not urgently resolved, there will be more such incidents,” said Mamadazimov. “I know the situation from the inside – the emotional state of the population is explosive. It is necessary not only to expedite negotiations, but also have them be ongoing.”

Meanwhile, a resident of Ovchi-Qalacha, who introduced himself as Abdulaliz, told Eurasianet that the public was left entirely in the dark about this incident.

“Ordinary citizens are not informed about what is happening and what to expect. I hope there will be no more conflict and that everyone will come together to reach a solution,” said Abdulaliz. 

Recall, the latest incident occurred on September 16 in an area adjacent to the Tajik settlement of Ovchi-Qalacha, not far from the northern Tajik city of Khujand, and the Kyrgyz village of Maksat.  Troops on both sides exchanged gunfire in a confrontation that left at least four dead and dozens injured.  .    

The shoot-out broke Monday evening following a dispute over construction at a non-demarcated section of the border and both sides blamed each other for starting the shooting.  The clash reportedly stopped at 9:30 pm and officials were taking measures to prevent further escalation.

Two-and-a-half hour’s negotiations between Tajik and Kyrgyz delegations on border issues that took place in Ovchi-Qalacha yesterday morning reportedly led to some preliminary breakthroughs.  The Kyrgyz side pledged to pull down a lookout tower built in a location near where fighting occurred and the Tajik side said it will not build a lookout tower near the same spot.  Both sides reportedly agreed to withdraw military reinforcements from the flashpoint by 6:00 pm of September 18.  

Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.