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1.1.2 Conflicts - 1. 2 a brief update on the evolution of the crisis since August 2009 and its impact on the macro economy 12

1.1.2 Conflicts


Bulgaria has experienced civil protests related to lay-offs and budgetary austerity but, most countries in the region have remained free from military or armed conflict over the period of the survey. The security situation in Kosovo is generally described as 'stable but unpredictable' with potential threats due to ethnic tensions and a still fluid political and socio-economic landscape. Inter-ethnic incidents are not frequent and are mainly located it North of Kosovo where the majority of Kosovo Serb population is residing. The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) has started to reduce its presence progressively.

2010 was one of the most difficult and turbulent years in the entire history of independent Kyrgyzstan where violent conflicts were linked to political change. In April violent protests led to a change in the political regime. The former president left the country, and an interim government was established. More clashes between conflicting parties took place in April and May and, in June 2010, these clashes grew into a fully-fledged inter-ethnic conflict in the southern part of the country. This resulted in hundreds of deaths and many tens of thousands of refugees. An important stabilizing factor appeared to be a referendum on the new Constitution held on 27 June. It approved this new constitution and provided the head of the interim government with an official status of the president of the country. No major conflicts have taken place since the referendum. A new technical government was formed in July and parliamentary elections held in October 2010. The parliament formed a majority coalition and appointed a new government, which took over power from the technical government on 20 December 2010.

Military clashes occurred in the Rasht valley of eastern Tajikistan, a stronghold of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) during the civil war in 1992-1997. The security situation in the region has stabilised since the early 2000s. However, in summer 2009, government forces conducted a large-scale security operation in the valley, reportedly to capture “Islamic militants” – including some with a UTO background – and interrupt drug trafficking flows. In September 2010, the security situation was exacerbated further when a Government military convoy entered the Kamarob gorge seeking to track down fugitives from a prison break in August, was attacked and 26 of the government troops killed. The conflict between the Government and the armed criminal groups has lasted for almost two months and has become the most serious internal conflict in Tajikistan for the last ten years.

Recent events in Tajikistan have increased concerns about stability in that country and raised doubts about the efficiency of the security services. There are also signs that radical Islamist activity is increasing. Although the authorities are dealing harshly with this to maintain stability, but the harsh response in itself may fuel further radicalization. Tajik foreign policy seems to be focusing on resolving disputes with Uzbekistan (i) over plans to expand hydropower sector and (ii) over rail shipments of goods into Tajikistan. Special attention is also being given to the security situation in Afghanistan and recent events in Kyrgyzstan in order to prevent any spread of violence into Tajikistan. Tajikistan is also making efforts to strengthen its borders with Afghanistan.

Relations with Uzbekistan remain strained largely owing to Tajikistan’s plans to expand its hydropower sector. Uzbekistan has been concerned about Tajikistan’s planned Roghun hydroelectricity plant which it fears could disrupt the flow of water needed for the Uzbek agricultural sector (which is heavily reliant on irrigation to produce cotton). In 2010 rail shipments of goods into Tajikistan were delayed at the Uzbek border. Uzbekistan claimed that the delays were the result of technical problems but Tajik authorities believed that it was a deliberate policy to put pressure on them to halt or scale down their plans for Roghun. At end of May as many as 1,900 rail wagons containing fuel, food and construction materials including 300 wagons of NATO non-military supplies bound for Afghanistan were being held up in Uzbekistan. As a result of Uzbekistan’s halting of freight cars, TJK railways’ cargo shipments decreased by 30% over the first 6 months of 2010).

The recent violence in the Kyrgyzstan has alarmed neighbouring countries, and led to concerns on the part of Governments of Central Asia that the unrest could spread to their own populations. The control of the interim Kyrgyz administration has been weak in parts of the country, and in mid-June conflict erupted in southern Kyrgyz regions between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks. The concern is that ethnic conflict could spill over to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan both of which have sizeable ethnic minority populations.

Tajikistan also neighbours unstable Afghanistan. The 1,130 km porous border between the two countries is considered to have potential for further spread of instability from Afghanistan. There are more ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan than in Tajikistan and the border is one of the main routes for drugs coming from Afghanistan on their way to Russia, Europe and increasingly to China and East Asia.
2014-07-19 18:44
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