Uzbeks Seek Turkmen Support on Water Dispute

Uzbekistan’s president Islam Karimov is in Turkmenistan trying to win the support of his counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov for his campaign to block hydroelectric projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

NBCentralAsia analysts note that Karimov’s October 1-2 visit comes just three weeks after he was in Kazakstan discussing regional water and energy issues.

In talks with Kazak president Nursultan Nazarbaev on September 7, Karimov said tensions over water resources could lead to war in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan remains resolutely opposed to hydroelectric dams under construction in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which it believes will obstruct the normal flow of water down the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. The water is essential to its population and for its irrigated agriculture.

Kazakstan and Turkmenistan are also dependent on this water, but have been less outspoken on the Tajik and Kyrgyz dam projects.

Qurbon Yovshanov, a political analyst in Tashkent, notes that Nazarbaev mentioned water shortages in Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan during his meeting with Karimov last month.

Yovshanov said Karimov was now trying to spur his Turkmen and Kazak neighbours on to more “radical measures” to block Tajik and Kyrgyz energy plans.

This article was produced as part of IWPR’s News Briefing CentralAsia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.

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