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Water and energy conflict has transformed into a geopolitical
Material posted: Publication date: 07-11-2014

One of the significant factors hampering the process of integration of Central Asian countries, is the issue of the use of water and energy resources of the region. Historical background the current situation on this issue go to the former Soviet Union, when the region relied on joint water-energy and socio-economic complex of all-Union scale, the separation of all significant resources, including water and energy resources, by the so-called Centre, in other words Moscow, the collapse of this centralized system with the acquisition of the Central Asian countries of national independence, it changed not only the socio-economic situation, but also geopoliticheskoy the situation in the region.

A striking example of geopolitical water-energy issues in Central Asia was the summit of heads of States founders of the International Fund for saving Aral sea in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 28 April 2009 the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, participated at this summit, in his speech stressed: “We, heads of state, accountable to the people and history of their countries should first of all try not to engage and not to politicize debate and discussion, and should find common ground. Otherwise, the interests of the peoples of our countries will remain on the sidelines, and will be dominated by the management region in accordance with strategic and geopolitical interests, goals of third force.” This statement can serve as an indicator that water-energy issue has long evolved from a contentious issue between individual States in Central Asia at a regional dilemma.

A letter from the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan sh. Mirziyoev concerning construction of the Rogun hydropower plant in Tajikistan, addressed to his Tajik counterpart Akilu Okilova February 3, 2010, had exacerbated the hostile relations between the two countries. The principled position of Uzbekistan stated in the letter sh. Mirziyoev, is that the project of Rogun HPP construction should be subjected to a competent independent international expertise.

In a letter to the Uzbek side stressed three points: first, the continuation and escalation of vysypanija of the Aral sea as a result of stroitelstva Rogun HPP; second, the reduction of drinking and irrigation water in the Amu Darya river to downstream countries; third, the possibility of increasing risk of technogenic catastrophes as a result of changing environmental conditions. The Uzbek side warned that in case of ignoring of their claims of the Tajik side, Uzbekistan will appeal to international organizations. The Uzbek side makes it clear that in case of need ready to consider the possibility of taking drastic measures.

Responding to the letter of Uzbek Prime-Minister-Minister of Tajikistan OKIL Okilov emphasized that the decision to construct hydroelectric power station belongs to the sovereign right of the Republic of Tajikistan that during the planning and design of hydroelectric power station all the interview concerning possible changes in the environment, urovnya of water in the Amu Darya region and potential anthropogenic impacts were taken into account, and that the Tajik side is open to cooperation with other countries in the region on this issue.

In this perspective, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on one side and Uzbekistan on the other, prodoljaut to conduct an information war against each other. Almost all Central mass media of Uzbekistan (the newspaper “Hulk SSI”, “Narodnoye Slovo”, “Pravda Vostoka”, the channels “Uzbekiston”, “Yoshlar”, NTT), mass media of Tajikistan (NIAT “Hovar” and others) and the media of Kyrgyzstan (CA-PLUS and others) besperestannoy publish one-sided biased point of view about water and energy problems of the region. Their content analysis, unfortunately, shows that very often these polemics include unfounded offensive attacks against each other and instead offer a solution to the issues discussed, the contrary aggravate relations between the States of the region.

Although the States of the region often claim that the search for solutions to contentious energy-water issues is the responsibility of the individual Central Asian countries or the region as a whole, in fact in most cases they individually rely on the help and support of the leading powers in the world. For example, it is thus, in January 2009, the heads of state of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in turn has tried to achieve for itself the Alliance of Russia in the energy-water conflict with blizhyshee neighbor. The same trend can be observed during the negotiations the leaders of these countries with glave international organizations (e.g. the world Bank or the UN).

In this case, the position of the international players that perceives Central Asia as the ancestral area of their interests, is also not clear (Russia, USA, China, the European Union, such important players on a regional scale, such as India, Iran and Pakistan). Their position is variable and unclear. Sometimes from their side argues that transboundary water and energy issues between the countries of Central Asia must be resolved taking into account interests of all parties and without violations of the water balance in the region. And sometimes it is emphasized that the building of water-power facilities on the transboundary rivers in Central Asia is dictated by the sovereign rights of individual countries such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

In our view, an effective and peaceful solution of the water-energy disputes of Central Asia should include the following components:

  • It is impossible to prevent the escalation of interstate disputes in vooruzhennoe collision. The recent increase in armed incidents at the state borders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan,[1] a notable acceleration in the pace of militarization of the countries of Central Asia[2] indicate that the chances for a peaceful settlement of this issue will decrease;
  • All disputing parties must unite in the common comisiei conciliation, created under the auspices of one of the existing authoritative international organizations. This, the Commission should be empowered with polemical development omepraaole option to solve water-energy disputes in the region. We believe that the requirement of the Uzbek side about the need to conduct an independent international expertise of planned hydro projects on the transboundary rivers of the region is appropriate. However, you cannot deny the objective need of the peoples of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in energy;
  • Guidelines in the resolution of the accumulated problems must become mutually beneficial interests between the countries of Central Asia, diplomacy and respect for international law, the rights of each other.
  • Real energy security can provide renewable or nuclear energy, as eloquently demonstrated by the experience of one of the leading powers of the world – Japan. The development of nuclear power or energy present and future, is not only in the interests of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and neighbouring States, in particular Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

If you do not adhere to the above stated conditions, the resulting conflict of interest can destroy the fragile socio-economic and political situation in Central Asia and lead to the disintegration of the region.

Saidov S. S.

[1] the Government of Tajikistan invited the Uzbek side to the talks in Dushanbe to de-escalate tensions", writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 09. 02.2010

[2] "Uzbekistan has planned for 2010 sensationally large amount of defense spending is nearly 1.42 billion U.S. dollars, ahead of while Kazakhstan, whose GDP is more than two times higher than the Uzbek.Why the militarization of Uzbekistan continues to not speak. you know, Tashkent is permanently in conflict relations with its neighbors, especially Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan", - the Military-industrial courier, No. 4, 03.02.2010, p. 3

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