Border-lines (1)

Dear honorable readers, today we are up to 42 degrees, I’m suffering in the office and since I want you in прохладная Европа (cool Europe) to suffer too, I am coming to the heavy stuff. Why would you rarely read about Central Asia on the “International” News (except if some Chechen Kyrgyz guys kill three people in Boston). Might be that there is just nothing going on? Everyone lives a peaceful life in harmony in the beautiful mountains or relaxing in the steppe or trading romantic goods (and/or drugs) on the former Silk Road? I am not so sure – here a glimpse into one hot topic: borders

Although Kyrgyzstan has only 4 borders (see map), there is some quarrels going on about them.

Central Asia on nationsonline.org

Central Asia on nationsonline.org

one week ago an incident near Jalal-Abad at the border region between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan took place during which one Uzbek border guard was killed, another injured. According to the News and the largely unexcited reactions of my acquaintances (“well, it’s crazy”), this is no exception to happen, since quarrels near the border are quite common (on 20 June for example a Kyrgyz citizen was killed by Uzbek guards – circumstances unclear). As always in such cases, the explanations vary widely, depending on the different Uzbek and Kyrgyz sources. While Uzbek officials stated that the Kyrgyz guards had been drunk and invaded Uzbek territory, according to a Kyrgyz official the Kyrgyz guards had been dragged onto Uzbek territory after a verbal discussion about the border details (messy topic!) with Uzbek guards starting the shooting.

Although I am not in touch with any of this – means I don’t have first-hand information – I want to give you an impression of the ongoing disputes based on newspaper information and conversations with Bishkek inhabitants.

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Kyrgyzstan – where to put the z! (Basic introduction)

When I told everyone back in Germany I was going to Kyrgyzstan, the most common reaction was to pull out their smartphones and look up the country on googlemaps.

“Wow, that’s almost China”.

In smartphone-less contexts I often faced confusion with other countries that are better known, mostly Kazakhstan and – (!) Kurdistan. This seems to be fairly common (I found this confusion on several webpages) and my stories about that even led to the fact that a geographically well-educated person (I still don’t know who it was – so hereby: respect!) drew the outlines of Kurdistan on the map that I had hung up for my farewell party:

DSC09072

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