The geopolitical situation in Central Asia in the context of water conflict
Material posted: Publication date: 08-11-2015
Despite having strong links and common historical past at the post-Soviet countries in the region, immediately after the collapse of the USSR, and in some cases even with the existence of the Union, there has been a number of pockets of potential conflicts. One such problem areas became Central Asia.

Water in TSA historically was a scarce resource. The subregion is in a strip of deserts and semi-deserts, a climate rather droughty, traditionally main waterways are two largest rivers: Amu Darya and Syr-Darya originating in hills. The region population traditionally lodged along these rivers which waters formed a basis of a food of irrigational systems.

Despite so severe environmental conditions, position with water resources of region was rather stable up to second half XX century. All has changed with the beginning of the scale Soviet program on development virgin and laylands of the Central Asia in the early eighties. Creation of the expanded irrigational system by building of some large channels and the whole network of smaller channels for the purpose of region transformation into “a cotton belt” the USSR was the basic idea of the given project. As it is known, the similar short-sighted policy has led to terrifying consequences for region: to drying of Aral sea, zasoleniju etc. [1] Thus it is necessary to pay attention of territories to distribution of water resources between the states which non-uniformity, finally, and is the basic driver of development of a conflict situation in the given region. At the Central Asia there are two groups of the countries: High-mountainous Kirghizia and Tajikistan provided with water, but practical deprived of natural resources, and Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan - the countries being more low on a current and depending in water questions from Dushanbe and Bishkek, but at the same time rather rich with other natural resources, first of all, energy carriers: oil and gas.

Interaction between republics is directive went to the Soviet period from the centre. The mutual system of deliveries according to which in the summer Kirghizia and Tajikistan, led active dump of water in valleys has been debugged, without filling a water basin, thus, feeding agricultural industry of the countries in lower reaches of the rivers. In turn, during the winter period of the country of lower reaches delivered hydrocarbons in high-mountainous areas.

In 60-80th years of XX century tsentralnoaziatskie republics have started to have serious problems with water resources since the considerable share of a drain of two basic rivers feeding region, Amu Darya and Syr-Darya, was spent for irrigational needs. However, at the time of Soviet Union to water distribution between republics did not give a close attention since independently there were interests of all country, instead of separately taken republic. In the USSR there was only a problem of shortage of water resources in region, as a whole, which decision and has not been found.

On a decline of the Soviet epoch the plan on change of a drain of the Siberian rivers, in particular Ob which ostensibly presumed to translate certain percent of a drain of the rivers of Siberia but then the project and has not been realised for a number of reasons to the Central Asia was actively developed, from which the serious financial crisis which has begun in 1985г became key. In the USSR. At that point in time the country was not so capable to provide so scale and expensive project financially. However, the alternative to it is not found till now that confirm words of the president of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbaeva at a meeting with the president of the Russian Federation D.Medvedevym in 2010г.:“ There are no uniform complex programs on balanced use of water resources. In this connection I consider necessary to give the task to our governments to make joint efforts on search of ways of the decision of these questions ”[2]. Its words show desire of the president again will address to old projects, however, the given initiative fairly was not considered by the Russian government. From the moment of disintegration of the USSR has passed already actually quarter of the century, and real ideas for decisions of problems still do not exist. But new problems - though take away. The situation with water distribution to become simply catastrophic. The requirement for water resources for region regularly grows in connection with enormous growth of the population of the countries of the Central Asia. To it it is possible to add and the serious problem connected with inefficient costs of water, first of all on irrigatsiju. If to compare these costs to developed countries they surpass them very considerably, and it is direct on them the basic share of water in region is spent. Irrigational costs of water are so high in connection with the out-of-date technics which has remained in the countries of region still since the USSR, and on purchasing of the new equipment they simply do not have financial assets.

Problem of shortage of water in TSA frequently compare to a similar problem in the Near East, and it is valid, the even not not armed sight it is possible to see set of similarities, but there is also specificity. One of those is that tsentralnoaziatskaja the problem essentially becomes complicated questions especially political, and is faster even the international. It creates a situation when any of the parties is not ready to go on the slightest concession, and it pushes on thought on probability of the military conflict in region even more.

Further, reasonablly, to address to an essence of the problem generating the interstate conflict in region. As already it has been described above, as a whole, water in region is in a prosperity, however, the separate states test its serious shortage. Historically, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are rich with minerals, and at mountain Kirghizia and Tajikistan they actually are absent. During the Soviet period they received them by distribution from the centre that has stopped after finding of independence by them, and these states became the poorest on the post-Soviet territory, in particular Kirghizia which and at all became one of the poorest countries in the world [3]. But, in turn, these two countries possess very essential stocks of water resources. Upper courses of two basic rivers of region of Amu Darya and Syr-Darya are in these highlands. They, de fakto, do not have other sources of incomes, except how to earn on water resources, by building on the rivers of hydroelectric power stations and export of the electric power to other states. However, the HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION demands essential costs of the water necessary for the countries being more low on current as, in turn, water is necessary to them for irrigational needs since separate areas of these countries live completely at the expense of the agricultural industry developed here during the Soviet period. As a result in region the serious conflict of interests between water-power engineering and irrigatsiej which does not stop was planned, and only aggravated. This division of republics on irrigatsiju and water-power engineering took place and during the Soviet period after occurrence of the first HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATIONS, but any conflict, for the clear reasons then could not arise.

To soften consequences of disintegration of the USSR - the countries of pool of Aral sea have signed on September, 20th, 1995 the Nukussky declaration of the states of the Central Asia and the international organisations on problems of a sustainable development of pool of Aral sea where have agreed that “the central-Asian states recognise earlier signed and agreements in force, agreements and other statutory acts regulating mutual relations between them on water resources in pool Arala and accept them to steady accomplishment” [4].“ Further, in 1998, for the most intense river pool, - the river Syr-Darya, the region states had been signed one more agreement more particularly regulating the relations between the countries in the field of use of vodno-power resources - the Agreement between the Governments of Republics Kazakhstans, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about use of vodno-power resources of a river basin Syr-Darya. And such work on enhancement of mutual relations between region republics proceeds up to the present. ”[5] it is important to notice that real successes in compromise achievement on former did not manage to be reached. Both blocks of the countries actively charge each other, everyone demands accomplishment of the conditions.

The essence of claims of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to neighbours consists in requirements of increase in a payment for work of their HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION in an irrigational mode in interests of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Official Bishkek and Dushanbe throughout many years specify in considerable costs from its part on maintenance of a hydraulic engineering infrastructure. Bishkek is most active in this question, suggested to treat water as a kind of the goods and in the long term to enter a payment for it. However, it is necessary to recognise that paid water use - slaborealizuemaja idea in the Central Asia because of high risks of social and political shocks in all without an exception the countries. Thus, the purpose of official Bishkek and Dushanbe consists in reception fair, in their opinion, market compensation for rendered services in water deliveries.” [6] Active charges sound and in the opposite direction, the countries located in lower reaches of the rivers, are disturbed by plans of Kirghizia and Tajikistan on development of water-power engineering and building of the new HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATIONS which are under construction for the purpose of the future export of the electric power. The loudest publicity was received by business with building of Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION in Tajikistan. It is one of the largest projects in TSA, caused enormous discontent of the government of Uzbekistan.

The project of this HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION has been developed in 70th years HH centuries. Even there has been begun its building, however for the certain reasons, it has been suspended. With finding of independence Tadjiks have remembered about this project, but in connection with the hardest conditions in republic it was impossible to implement it, however, in the beginning 2000 when the country has started to come to the senses, the country government has started active search of foreign investors for renewal of building of HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION in Rogune, as such investor the company “Russian aluminium has acted"." The agreement between "Rusalom" and the authorities of Tajikistan about end of the Soviet long-term construction, Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION, has been signed in 2004. Investments in the project were estimated in $1 mlrd, "Rusal" should receive 51 % of shares of HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION capacity 3,6 GVt. It was planned that it will deliver energy to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In the same 2004 the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Tajikistan in which frameworks the Sangtudinsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION is under construction has been signed. ”[7] it has displeased the authorities of Uzbekistan since renewal of work of HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION needed water basin building, and, according to the Uzbek party, it would take away from them a huge share of water. It is proved by words of the president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov:” As we can admit, that inhabitants of Uzbekistan lived without water eight years while the Rogunsky water basin will completely be filled.

Than farmers all this time will be engaged?” [8] However, the project has not taken place because of that as the Russian company has refused to build HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION of such sizes as it was necessary for the government of Tajikistan, in 2010 Tadjiks again undertook Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION and again it has caused indignation of the Uzbek party, and business this time by miracle has done without the military conflict, than the history from Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION will end, till now is not clear. But clearly another, “the Conflict round hydroelectric power station repeats general tendencies of conflicts of the countries of lower reaches and an upper course - Uzbekistan is afraid that will lose even more water which have been started up for hydropower needs during the osenne-winter period, the Tadjik experts in the answer specify that the reason of a lack of water in Uzbekistan - irrational water use, instead of work of the Tadjik HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATIONS” [9] Similar conflicts in region we see much enough, for example, round Kambaratinsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION in Kyrgyzstan. In particular, on the eve of contract signing on its building between the Russian Federation and Kirghizia, the president of Uzbekistan I.Karimov has made the menacing statement, having warned about probability of transformation of the conflict in the armed stage: ”I will not name the concrete countries, but all can be aggravated so that it can cause not simply serious opposition, but even wars. We ask: before to start to build, before to sign with any great states (agreement) on building, let's make previously objective examination and we will give an accurate explanation to our people, our people, and that then tomorrow will be with those who lives more low on a river drain” [10]

If to consider dynamics of succession of events in region since the beginning 90 and till today it is clearly visible that any conflict situation has not found the the decision since the parties are not ready to sit down a negotiating table on purpose to find a mutually advantageous solution of a problem. Such policy only prevents to develop each of the countries since water resources play very important role for them. As a rule, even in case of dialogue origin between the states, its results are limited only to signing of agreements, and on their accomplishment speech does not go at all, and it is everything in spite of the fact that, ”the states are connected by agreements on" eternal friendship "and participation in the regional organisations which purpose is, besides other, the decision economic and ecological questions. Certainly, if to consider water distribution some kind of a litmus piece of paper for determination of availability of friendship it is possible to come to an unfavourable conclusion that this friendship - no more than words. And if in addition to regard a situation with mutual deliveries (is more exact, failures to deliver) waters, gas and the electric power as economic war relations between Astana, Tashkent and Bishkek are represented not simply unfriendly, but disputed ”[11].

Authoritative character of political modes of the countries TSA essentially complicates a situation, leading to that each of the countries is artificial is isolated from others and defends the interests alone though at two countries hydropower interests, and at three irrigational, and having united in blocks it it would be easier to agree. However in practice of it does not occur, and conflicts happen even between the countries, with general interests, for example, the Turkmen-Uzbek question, concerning distributions of waters of Amu Darya.

In May, 2012 UNESCO has tried to interfere with a situation, having created the centre in Kazakhstan. “The centre will be connected with the decision of problems of water in the central-Asian region and aimed at an estimation of influences of global changes on water stress in region and dynamics of natural processes in a zone of forming of regional water resources», - the main research assistant of Institute of geography, the chairman of National committee on the international hydrological program of UNESCO Igor Seversky “[12] However has noted, UNESCO is a fund of the world heritage, instead of intergovernmental the organisation, and accordingly, it is not capable to affect a current situation essentially.

At present, the conflict is in refrigerated stages, and any change of a situation can lead to bloodshed.

Thus, it is possible to state that, first, the decision of a water problem is key not only for stable future development of region, but also for a practical survival of some the countries, such as Kirghizia, secondly, taking into account a difficult international situation in the Central Asia, real threat of use of a water problem for achievement as internal political purposes, and for escalating of influence among neighbours arises active struggle for leadership and fragile, generally, authoritative ruling modes of the countries of region. Thereupon, possibility of origin of potential conflicts (up to military collisions) sharply increases.

In the given context it is important to allocate interests of the Russian Federation and threat which to it the potential conflict can bear. Russia is interested in stability in tsentralnoaziatskom region for some reasons:

1. The risk to appear involved in the military conflict. The Russian Federation still was not possible within the limits of ODKB to generate uniform system of collective safety in the Central Asia in connection with suspension in 2012г. Uzbekistan memberships in the organisation. It has created a situation, at which Russia it will be difficult to position itself as the arbitrator at origin of the potential conflict and to separate from participation in it on someone's party since it is the ally of Kirghizia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan on ODKB. In conformity with article 4 “Agreements on collective safety":" If one of the states-participants undergoes to aggression it will be considered by the states-participants as aggression on all states-participants of the present Agreement ”[13]. Any support of the Russian Federation by one of the countries of allies, will inevitably lead to serious complication of relations with the country not entering into block ODKB (first of all it concerns Uzbekistan) that will give up as a bad job possibility of construction of system of collective safety in TSA, necessary for struggle against external threats. Besides, participation in such conflicts completely contradicts the foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation which important points are “forming of relations of good neighbourhood with the adjacent states, assistance to elimination available and to prevention of origin of the new centres of intensity and conflicts in regions adjoining to the Russian Federation”, and also “development of bilateral and multilateral relations of mutually advantageous and partnership equal in rights with foreign states” [14]

2. Risk of distribution in TSA ideas radical islamizma. Potential instability in region can lead to activization of activity of Islamites at borders of the Russian Federation. Radical Islam as has corrected, is integrated to terrorism, drug-dealing and trade in arms. These phenomena, are “a consequence of deterioration of economic and social situation of considerable national groups, property and is social-legal stratification, growth of corruption, criminalisation of a society, shortage of the vital resources” [15] that inevitably will occur in case of conflict transition in a sharp phase. Besides, the situation can be aggravated in view of affinity of astable Afghanistan, whence there can be an export of terrorist elements and the weapon.

3. Risk of occurrence in the Russian territory of a great number of refugees from clashing republics including among which can appear and Islamic fundamentalists. Occurrence of refugees from the Central Asia can negatively affect and an internal political situation in the Russian Federation.

Overall objective of the Russian Federation is stability preserving in tsentralnoaziatskom region since conflict escalation, at any deal will lead a negative consequence for it. In interests of Russia development military-political and economic cooperation (including integration character), both on two and a multilateral basis, and within the limits of the international organisations, and it is possible only under condition of preserving of stable conditions in region.

The list of sources

  1. Conflict of interests between water users in the Central Asian region and possible ways to its elimination//Water resources (2010) p.113.
  2. Sultans B. To. Territorially-boundary problems in the Central Asia. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.kisi.kz>
  3. Official site ODKB. The agreement on collective safety. Item 4. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.odkb-csto.org/documents/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=126>
  4. Official site the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The concept of foreign policy of the Russian Federation 2013. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://archive.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/6D84DDEDEDBF7DA644257B160051BF7F>
  5. Official site scientifically-information centre MKUR in Uzbekistan. The Nukussky declaration of the states of the Central Asia and the international organisations on problems of a sustainable development of pool of Aral sea. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://mkur.uznature.uz/rus/nukusdeklaraciya.html>
  6. Portal ”NationalGeographic//Russia”.М.Синнот. How to dry up the sea for half a century: a tragic story of Arala. An electronic resource. - an access mode: http://www.nat-geo.ru/nature/217711-kak-vysushit-more-za-polveka-tragicheskaya-istoriya-arala/#full <http://www.nat-geo.ru/nature/217711-kak-vysushit-more-za-polveka-tragicheskaya-istoriya-arala/>
  7. The newspaper “Arguments and the Facts”. On the south Nazarbayev has suggested to remember the project of turn of the Siberian rivers. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.aif.ru/politics/world/246308>
  8. The newspaper "Businessman".Н.Гриб, V.Solovev. Between Russia and Tajikistan there was a dike of "Rusal" has lost Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/801523>
  9. News agency "TOPMIRA". A rating of the poorest countries of the world. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://topmira.com/goroda-strany/item/5-samye-bednye-strany-mira>
  10. News agency "Modernpolitics".А.Заквасин. ”Water - tsentralnoaziatskoe"Apple of discord"
  11. News agency "Регнум". Islam Karimov: Inhabitants of Uzbekistan should live without water of 8 years that the Rogunsky water basin was filled. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://regnum.ru/news/polit/1333143.html>
  12. News agency "Region". A problem of regional water use by conflicts not to solve. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.region.kg/index.php?catid=5:obshestvo&id=270:2011-10-11-10-30-49&Itemid=6&option=com_content&view=article>
  13. "InoSMI". BBC Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov: In region war can begin. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://inosmi.ru/sngbaltia/20120913/199096072.html>
  14. News agency "ЦентрАзия". N.Kuzmin. The water problem in TsentrAzii has reached "boiling points". The situation analysis. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1016660640>
  15. ” TsentrAzija ”. In Almaty with UNESCO support the Center on studying of glaciers is created. The Electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.centrasia.ru/news2.php?st=1338274020>

_______________________________

[1] Portal ”National Geographic//Russia”.М.Синнот. How to dry up the sea for half a century: a tragic story of Arala. An electronic resource. - an access mode: http://www.nat-geo.ru/nature/217711-kak-vysushit-more-za-polveka-tragicheskaya-istoriya-arala/#full <http://www.nat-geo.ru/nature/217711-kak-vysushit-more-za-polveka-tragicheskaya-istoriya-arala/>

[2] Newspaper “Arguments and the Facts”. On the south Nazarbayev has suggested to remember the project of turn of the Siberian rivers. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.aif.ru/politics/world/246308>

[3] news agencies "TOPMIRA". A rating of the poorest countries of the world. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://topmira.com/goroda-strany/item/5-samye-bednye-strany-mira>

[4] Official site scientifically-information centre MKUR in Uzbekistan. The Nukussky declaration of the states of the Central Asia and the international organisations on problems of a sustainable development of pool of Aral sea. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://mkur.uznature.uz/rus/nukusdeklaraciya.html>

[5] Conflict of interests between water users in the Central Asian region and possible ways to its elimination//Water resources (2010) p.113.

[6] news agencies "Modernpolitics".А.Заквасин. ”Water - tsentralnoaziatskoe"Apple of discord"

[7] Newspaper "Businessman".Н.Гриб, V.Solovev. Between Russia and Tajikistan there was a dike of "Rusal" has lost Rogunsky HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/801523>

[8] news agencies "Регнум". Islam Karimov: Inhabitants of Uzbekistan should live without water of 8 years that the Rogunsky water basin was filled. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://regnum.ru/news/polit/1333143.html>

[9] news agencies "Regions". A problem of regional water use by conflicts not to solve. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.region.kg/index.php?catid=5:obshestvo&id=270:2011-10-11-10-30-49&Itemid=6&option=com_content&view=article>

[10] news agencies "ИноСМИ".BBC Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov: In region war can begin. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://inosmi.ru/sngbaltia/20120913/199096072.html>

[11] news agencies "ЦентрАзия". N.Kuzmin. The water problem in TsentrAzii has reached "boiling points". The situation analysis. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1016660640>

[12] news agencies "ЦентрАзия". In Almaty with UNESCO support the Center on studying of glaciers is created. The Electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.centrasia.ru/news2.php?st=1338274020>

[13] Official site ODKB. The agreement on collective safety. Item 4. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.odkb-csto.org/documents/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=126>

[14] Official site the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The concept of foreign policy of the Russian Federation 2013. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://archive.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/6D84DDEDEDBF7DA644257B160051BF7F>

[15] Sultans B. To. Territorially-boundary problems in the Central Asia. An electronic resource. - an access mode: <http://www.kisi.kz>

Margulis S.B.

Tags: assessment , Central Asia , war , A.Snesariev's competition , water