Provocative irredentist statements about Tajikistan by a top Kyrgyz official on the first anniversary of deadly border clashes between the two countries have caused alarm in Dushanbe.

Radio Liberty says Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (SCNS) chief Kamchybek Tashiyev told reporters in Bishkek on September 15 that Kyrgyz officials had uncovered "historical" documents that suggest parts of Tajikistan used to be Kyrgyz territory.

Tajik political scientist Abdullo Rahnamo noted in interview with Radio Liberty on September 18 that the unexpected nature of Tashiiev's statement and raised concern that it could indicate divisions within the Kyrgyz leadership or major problems in the border-negotiation process.

"Considering the timing, location, content, position, and tone of the statement, there is no doubt that it does not convey a positive message for resolving the border issue, improving relations between the two Central Asia countries.  It has once again disrupted the atmosphere of trust that had previously existed in bilateral and multilateral relations," Rahnamo said.

Rahnamo also pointed to the need for a thorough examination of Tashiyev's statement from both a legal and political perspective, particularly focusing on his assertion about the discovery of "new historical documents."

Radio Liberty notes that Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov has not yet publicly commented on Tashyiev's provocative statement, which has sparked controversial reactions within the two countries.

Kyrgyz political analyst Emil Joroyev said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the border negotiations between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have become contentious lately, with little progress being made.

Joroyev reportedly noted that after early agreements in marking their shared border, the two countries have reached one of the most-disputed locations and have been unable to find a compromise.

"Tashiyev's recent words, tone, manner, and selective arguments [about the border] seem to lack diplomacy,” said Joroyev. “But I believe there was a motive behind his action.  It didn't come out of nowhere.  I think that the day after President Japarov visited Dushanbe and spoke with Emomali Rahmon, such a statement emerged due to an undisclosed acute matter [between the two countries]. Unfortunately, such a statement could lead to provocative actions.  Given the conflicts of 2021-2022, we are aware of the possibility of a worst-case scenario. In such provocations, attacks, and shootings, the party initiating the attack must bear responsibility."

Recall, Kyrgyzstan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan Erlan Abdyldayev was summoned to Tajikistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 16 and informed that Dushanbe was "concerned" over Kamchybek Tashiyev's statement to reporters on September 15.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have not yet resolved the border delineation problem.  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 Fergana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.

The border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has been the scene of unrest repeatedly since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.  Border talks between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan began in 2002.  The countries share 972 kilometers of border – of which only 664 kilometers have been properly delineated, leading to tensions for the past 30 years.

To-date, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have reportedly held more than 170 meetings and negotiations on delimitation and demarcation of the common border.