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As Trucks Idle On Border, Kyrgyzstan Lashes Out At Kazakhstan Over Delays

Some 250 trucks were reportedly stuck on the Kyrgyz side of the border with Kazakhstan.
Some 250 trucks were reportedly stuck on the Kyrgyz side of the border with Kazakhstan.

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have lashed out at neighboring Kazakhstan over what they say are stepped-up, burdensome bureaucratic procedures that have slowed the movement of trucks across the border to a crawl for the second time in two years.

In a statement on its website on April 3, Kyrgyzstan's Economy Ministry accused the country's larger northern neighbor of violating the regulations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EES), which also includes Russia, Belarus, and Armenia.

It said that since March 19, Kazakh authorities have been conducting elaborate checks of all trucks entering Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan, and that some 250 trucks were stuck on the Kyrgyz side of the border as a result.

"The move is a hidden customs control that absolutely contradicts EES [Eurasian Economic Union] regulations," the ministry said and will hurt the economy of Kyrgyzstan.

It accused Kazakhstan of violating an article of the EES treaty that it said guarantees "the free transportation of all kinds of goods across all member-states...without customs declarations or state controls."

The Kyrgyz Economy Ministry called on the government to recall its ministers from the Eurasian Economic Commission, the EES executive body, for consultations.

Kazakhstan's Finance Ministry said earlier that the movement of trucks across the border was slowed by the "unwillingness" of some truck drivers to "properly go through the border control."

In October 2017, a similar situation developed after Kazakhstan stepped up controls along the border with Kyrgyzstan after the Kyrgyz president at the time, Almazbek Atambaev, criticized his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Atambaev's term ended later in 2017 and Nazarbaev resigned last month after nearly three decades in office but retains key posts in the energy-rich country, which dominates the EES along with Russia.

The Kyrgyz ministry's statement came shortly before Kazakhstan's interim president, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, arrived in Moscow on his first trip abroad since taking office.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz and Kazakh services
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