President Rahmon expected to pay visit to Vorukh this week

President Rahmon expected to pay visit to Vorukh this week
Experts say a meeting of the presidents of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan can put an end to clashes between residents of border areas of the two countries.  Residents of border areas hope so too.   
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon is expected to visit the northern city of Isfara and the Vorukh jamoat this week. 
While in Vorukh, President Emomali Rahmon will meet with his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbai Jeenbekov to discuss issues related to delineation of the disputable stretches of the mutual border.  Rahmon and Jeenbekov are also expected to meet with residents of border villages of both countries, a source in Tajik government told Asia-Plus in an interview.     
It will be the second visit of President Emomali Rahmon to Vorukh.  The first visit of Rahmon to Vorukh took place in 1993.   
Kyrgyzstan’s independent news agency AKIPress reported on July 4 that during a meeting with residents of the Batken district President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has said that during his official visit to Tajikistan he and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon came to a consensus on the border issues.
“President Emomali Rahmon will pay visit to Kyrgyzstan soon and our negotiations will continue.  President of Tajikistan and I are open to negotiations,” Kyrgyz president was cited as saying by AKIPress.
Expectation and hope
Residents of the Vorukh jamoat are looking forward to President Rahmon’s visit and hope that the border problems will be finally solved.   
“We are looking forward to the visit of President Emomali Rahmon.   It's impossible to live like that, you know.  You wake up in the morning and think whether the road to Isfara is open or not.  We hope that the visit of the head of state will open doors of our “prison” and we will joint directly the other part of Tajikistan,” Narzullo Aziziyon, the resident of Vorukh, told Asia-Plus in an interview.
According to him, residents have been tired of constant conflicts and the problem must be solved finally. 
Resident of the village of Tojikon in the Vorukh jamoat, Ghafourjon Jourayev, also considers that only the presidents of the two countries are able to solve the border problems.  
“We hope for this.  So the most important thing is that we hope that President Emomali Rahmon will solve the problem of constructing the direct road from Isfara to Vorukh.  We trust in him,” Jourayev said, noting that it is also necessary to solve the problem of use of pastures and water.  
The road of life
Meanwhile, Tajik journalist Nematullo Mirsaidov says that it is impossible to solve other border problems without resolving the issue of opening the direct road to Vorukh.
“First of all, it is necessary to resolve the issue of opening the direct road from Isfara to Vorukh, because nearly 35,000 residents of Vorukh are cut off from Tajikistan and are under constant pressure,” Mirsaidov said.  
According to him, it is necessary to rehabilitation the old road to the jamoat from the right bank of the Vorukh River.  “Residents of Vorukh had earlier used this road, but then the road through the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai was built.  This road is constantly blocked by the Kyrgyz side during the clashes between residents of the border areas.  It would be better to rehabilitate the old road running through Tangii Kuhna,” Mirsaidov said. 
It is necessary to bring together residents
Meanwhile, some experts speak about incorporating the Vorukh jamoat within Tajikistan’s borders and propose other ways of solving the problem.  
A source, who wanted to remain unnamed, noted that rehabilitation of the old road would be the best option.  “It is also necessary to solve other problems, including access to pastures,” the source said, proposing to conclude an agreement on joint use of pastures by residents of Vorukh and Ak-Sai.  
He also proposes to bring residents of border areas of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan together through creating free economic zones.  
The fateful meeting 
A regular meeting of the Tajik-Kyrgyz working group on delimitation and demarcation of the mutual border took place in the Tajik northern city of Isfara last week.  The meeting participants reportedly discussed proposals on drawing the disputable stretches of the border and reached an agreement on conducting a joint field examination of the border in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken district.  
Besides, the delegations of the two countries carried out negotiations in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.  They reportedly also met in Bishkek with representatives of residents of border areas to discuss existing problems and ways to solve them.  Their opinions will be submitted for consideration to the Tajik-Kyrgyz joint commission.   
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been unable to agree on the location of the border they inherited when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  As the population in the dense Ferghana Valley grows, it has become increasingly difficult to demarcate the contested sections, where valuable agricultural land often lies.
The area at the focus of unrest among residents of border areas of the two countries lies on the jagged frontier where the east of Tajikistan’s Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region meet.  Skirmishes have sparked between residents of Isfara (Tajikistan) and Batken (Kyrgyzstan) districts along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border.  Trouble periodically sparks around Vorukh, an exclave wholly surrounded by Kyrgyz territory that forms part of the Isfara district in the Sughd province.  Vorukh is linked to the rest of Tajikistan by a single, rutted road that passes through Kyrgyzstan.
The latest serious unrest erupted on March 13 after Kyrgyzstan restarted work on a controversial Aksai-Tamdyk road in the disputed section of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border.
Two Tajik nationals were killed and more than 30 others wounded in two days of clashes.  Kyrgyzstan listed three injured on its side.
Tajik border service argues that completion of this road will lead to the stemming of a river and leave Vorukh without irrigation for its valuable apricot and walnut cash crops.
Rahmon and Jeenbekov on March 14 held a phone conversation over the border situation between the two countries.  They noted the need to create a joint commission to objectively investigate the incident and prevent similar situations in the future, as well as to intensify negotiations on the completion of the process of delimitation of the state border.
The presidents were of the opinion that the two peoples, having age-old good-neighborly relations, should live in peace and friendship. 

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