April 16, 2009. On the Position of the Republic of Uzbekistan with regard to Construction of the New Hydropower Facilities on the Upstream of the Transboundary Rivers of Central Asia
The territories, which are located on the basins of the great rivers of Central Asia – Amudarya and Syrdarya – which from of old have been named as an Interfluve, for centuries were supplied with their waters. These most important arteries have shaped the sole hydrological system of the region.
However, the adoption of pernicious decisions last century at the times of the Soviet Union led to a gross interference with natural processes, hasty use of natural resources and cardinally changed the regime of watercourse of Amudarya and Syrdarya that has been established for centuries. All of this has caused the gravest ecological catastrophe related to drying up of the Aral Sea. It is an open secret that the consequences of this tragedy are now being felt not only in the Aral Sea adjacent area and countries of Central Asia, but far beyond their limits. And yet no one casts doubt that the Aral is not only the problem of the states in the region, but also the ecological catastrophe of a planetary scale.
In such conditions, when some territories of the region experience a chronic lack of pure and irrigational water, the reasonable use of natural resources, firstly, of the water resources, turns into one of the most acute problems for the region.
The issues of fair water-use touch on the interests of all countries of Central Asia and adoption of any decision, which does not consider the interests of neighbors, yet will more worsen the situation with regard to supplying water in the downstream of Amudarya and Syrdarya, and at the same time, will exacerbate the ecological situation related to drying up of the Aral Sea, may have a negative impact on the conditions of life of tens of millions of citizens of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Such assessment is understood by many states and international organizations.
It should be noted that at the moment Central Asia is facing the conditions when the water supply of the major rivers of Amudarya and Syrdarya does not exceed 70 percent of the average many-years-long norm. This also makes complex the opportunities to provide people with necessary volumes of water for the purposes of drinking and irrigation. As it is known, 65 percent of the region’s population resides in the countryside area and is engaged in the agricultural sector, which entirely depends on a reliable water supply.
The unfolding complex situation is being exacerbated by the actions aimed at further unbalancing the currently existing mechanism of regulating water in the region. This relates, firstly, to the aspirations to hurriedly implement the new large-scale projects of hydropower facilities in the “best” Soviet traditions of unrestrained violence over the nature.
The authors of such projects on the transboundary rivers pursuing the commercial interests and achievement of far-reaching political goals are not paying a due level of attention to their possible consequences and are fully ignoring the concerns of neighboring countries. But, after all, the point is about the fates of millions of people who reside on this soil.
The further development of events on such scenario on the basin of Amudarya and Syrdarya may, as the experts believe, lead to unpredictable consequences for the normal life activities of the people of countries, who reside on the downstream of transboundary rivers.
At the same time, one should not ignore the related growing threats for a fragile ecological balance in the region. Finally, one should not forget that is a high seismic zone. It is difficult to forecast what tragic consequences the failure of dams may lead to should the catastrophic earthquake take place.
Proceeding from all of this, Uzbekistan adheres to the position on the necessity of rational and effective use of the region’s water resources based on the universally adopted international norms.
The Uzbek side believes that any considerable construction on the basins of transboundary rivers asks for a mandatory endorsement by all countries of the region. This is not only a requirement of our country, but also the established norms of international law. Tackling of the problem is an exclusive prerogative of the countries in the region. As President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has stated in this regard, the interference of third countries with water and energy problems of Central Asia is inadmissible.
Uzbekistan adheres to a firm position on the need of mandatory holding of international examination under UN auspices of all hydropower projects on the transboundary rivers. When the point is about the construction of such large hydro facilities as the Kambarata Hydropower Station-1 and Rogun Hydropower Station the examination group must include absolutely independent authoritative specialists, who will abide by not only the principles of objectivity, but also the relevant UN conventions.
The following several principally important moments must be reflected on the conclusions of international experts:
- correspondence to modern level of designing with taking into consideration of possible consequences of elemental, natural and anthropogenic calamities;
- the level of damage, which may be inflicted to ecology;
- saving the water balance in the region and guarantees of the existing regime of the watercourse of rivers.
Uzbekistan adheres to the opinion that all issues related to ensuring the water and energy balance in Central Asia must be tackled based on mutual understanding, constructive dialogue and consensus between the countries of the region. Any ignorance of these principles may lead to unpredictable ecological, economic, social and political consequences in the region.
One should firmly remember that these are the pivotal issues for modern and forthcoming generations of people of Central Asia linked by single historical and cultural roots.
MFA of Uzbekistan