Turkey on Saturday offered support for the peaceful settlement of recent tensions between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan due to a border conflict.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu expressed Ankara’s support for a cease-fire deal between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on Saturday in separate phone calls to his counterparts in the two Central Asian nations, reports Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.
Violence erupts at disputed border
Both sides blamed each other for escalating tensions.
Military units from Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan began exchanging fire on Thursday, in the area surrounding the Tajik enclave of Vorukh. Later that day a cease-fire was declared by Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry from 8:00 pm (1400 GMT). Armed forces then returned to their respective military bases, reported DW news.
Tajikistan acknowledged the cease-fire early the following day.
In a statement published by its state information service, Tajikistan said both countries “came to a mutual agreement to end the armed conflict, to withdraw personnel and military equipment to places of permanent deployment.”
Following two days of border clashes, Çavuşoğlu told Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev that Turkey would provide the support needed to peacefully settle the two countries’ disputes, according to diplomatic sources.
Çavuşoğlu also voiced his satisfaction with the truce inked between the two sides earlier on Saturday.
The violence that started on Wednesday between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan was centered on control over the local water distribution network, Kyrgyz media reported on Thursday.
Surveillance equipment was installed by Tajik officials at the Golovnoi water distribution center, which Kyrgyzstan says is located in an area where sovereignty is yet to be defined, according to the Radio Free Europe news website.
Clashes broke out with the intervention of the border troops from the two countries, and soldiers were sent to the region with armored vehicles from both sides.
Tensions on control of the water supply continued on Thursday, however, with residents throwing stones at each other.
Nearly 40 people were killed – including a 13-year-old girl – and 134 wounded along the disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, according to the Kyrgyz Health Ministry.
The Turkic Council on Friday also expressed concern over the escalation of tensions on the Kyrgyz-Tajik state border and called for the swift introduction of a cease-fire.
In a written statement, the council extended condolences to the families of victims and wished for prompt recovery for those wounded.
“We express our contentment for the negotiations of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the parties and for the swift introduction of a cease-fire between the sides which opened up the course of de-escalation,” it said.
EU and Russian Response
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are both members of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization. The Russian foreign ministry on Friday voiced concern about the conflict and urged them to negotiate a lasting settlement.
The European Union on Friday welcomed the ceasefire deal and emphasised the need for a “lasting and peaceful solution”.
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