The Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations have long been strained due to a number of factors including border, water and energy issues although this situation appears to be changing at the moment.
The meeting between two presidents held September 5 marked a new stage in bilateral relations.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Kyrgyzstan was the first by an Uzbek president in 17 years, Bruce Pannier, a Central Asia expert, told Trend.
“That alone says something about ties between the two countries,” he said.
Mirziyoyev and Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev seemed to get along very well during the visit and bilateral agreements worth some $115 million were signed, according to the expert.
After the new president took office in Uzbekistan, the relations between two countries started to improve. This allowed to resume the state border negotiations.
“All of this is good news for the people of the two countries who had grown accustomed to 25 years of Uzbekistan’s first president, Islam Karimov. Relations with Kyrgyzstan were extremely poor during this time and the border of the two countries was increasingly closed off, restricting not only travel for citizens, many of whom have relatives on the other side of the border, but also for trade,” he said.
Scenes from the Dostuk/Dustlik border crossing (near Osh, Kyrgyzstan) when it opened on September 6 demonstrate how much it means to the people that they again will have an opportunity to freely cross the border, according to Pannier. It looked like a holiday with music and dancing and many smiling faces, he noted.
During the latest visit, both sides also signed state border agreement. They also voiced desire to reconsider the water and energy issues which caused controversy in the past.
“Improved Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties are not only good for those two countries but also a good sign for the entire Central Asian region. Uzbekistan borders with all the Central Asian countries, therefore more open Uzbekistan is good for regional cooperation in general,” the expert added.
Central Asia will only win in case Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties improved as it would attract more Chinese investments in the region.
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