Central Asian States Should Start Negotiations over Water, Give Up Rigid Positions
Central Asian states should stop focusing only on their own claims and positions over management of trans-border water resources and start negotiation process and be open to compromise, Vadim Sokolov, Deputy Director of Scientific and Information Centre at the Interstate Committee for Water Management in Central Asia said in the interview to Ferghana.ru.
One of the solutions could be developing energy saving ways in Kyrgyzstan, which has been overusing its hydro potential for energy production. Nearly 40 percent of electricity is being lost due to poor infrastructure and stealing.
Another suggestion for the upstream energy poor states, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is to take a more modest approach to compensations for preserving water for irrigation in winter. Downstream countries, such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, should compensate in coal and oil at the price that equals to the price of unproduced hydro energy, not thermal energy.
The price of energy produced by thermal plants is 3-4 times more expensive than by hydropower stations.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are close in their positions, however Kyrgyzstan refuses the arrangement that does not allow ripping commercial benefits to the full extent, which impedes negotiations, Sokolov says.
“Today commercial interests clash with social issues. We have to consider that 60 percent of Uzbekistan’s population is rural and make living from agriculture, which is a very crucial social factor,” Sokolov points out adding that commercial interests and social issues should be considered separately, as the latter has higher priority.
“The countries should stop accusing each other and start negotiation process immediately,” Sokolov added.
In the previous interview on the causes and consequences of water shortage in Central Asia Vadim Sokolov said that lack prompt decision-making led to the situation when there is no enough water in for irrigation and electricity production.
Protracted negotiations this year led to discharges of water by Kyrgyzstan beyond accepted limits due to an unusually cold winter that left the main Toktogul reservoir nearly empty and unable to aid with irrigation or further electricity production. Due to this, Kyrgyzstan is now preparing for countrywide power cuts of electricity.
“This winter, Uzbek and Kyrgyz authorities failed to agree on prices and the amount of energy to exchange. Prolonged negotiations led to the discharge of all water [that Uzbekistan now needs for irrigation] by Kyrgyzstan,” Sokolov said in the previous interview with Ferghana.ru.