Tajikistan-Uzbekistan: Top level discussions over the Rogun project
According to Tajik mass media, the government of Tajikistan is working on the response to yesterday’s letter of Shavkat Mirzieev, the Prime-Minister of Uzbekistan, addressed to his Tajik colleague Akil Akilov on the construction of the Rogun hydropower plant.
It has to be mentioned that Uzbek Prime-Minister urged the government of Tajikistan to run independent examination of the Rogun hydropower plant.
"We are working on the response to the letter of Uzbek Prime-Minister. It will be prepared in accordance with international norms", Davlat Nazriev, the Head of information department in the Tajik Foreign Ministry, said.
Commenting on the letter of Uzbek side, the Head of Tajik national committee for big dams Khomidjon Arifov informed «NIAT Khovar» that Uzbekistan started the political struggle against Tajikistan because Uzbekistan wants to keep his neighbor dependent on him.
Arifov highlighted that Deutche Lahmayer Company ran the environmental examination of this project and it showed positive results. The feasibility study of the Rogun project was additionally checked by Coyne Et Bellier International Corporation.
Meanwhile, in 2008 the World Bank took the responsibility before the government of Tajikistan to run the research in this area; it also announced its readiness to finance the feasibility study development for the Rogun project. In April of 2009, responding to the letter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, the World Bank President Robert Zoellick promised to establish International commission that would evaluate the necessity of the Rogun project and its possible environmental impact.
Tajik analyst says that "Uzbek government is aware that they will see all the project benefits. However, the statement is just political move by Uzbek government that does not want to see Tajikistan develop", Arifov shares with Avesta.
Another Tajik political scientist Rustam Samiev says that open letter of Uzbek Prime-Minister is addressed, first of all, to the process observers from outside – Russia, the European Union, the World Bank and others. In his opinion, official Tashkent should be aware that older format in the negotiations between Uzbekistan on one side and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on the other side does not exist anymore. In his opinion, the outer forces, interested in the building the relations with republics of Central Asia, should be also involved. The political scientist believes that the regional governments and donors must go back to consideration of intergovernmental water-energy consortium and adopt special doctrine, guaranteeing the production of hydropower engineering and rational water use in the region.
"Overall, the position of Uzbek government appeals to the values which it does not share – the expert added. – Specifically, the promise to address UN and other international structures is quite strange, considering that Uzbekistan has not ratified many UN conventions. The promise to attract the environmentalists is not a good one either because it may reveal the party at fault for the elimination of the Aral Sea. The government of the republic, leading CIS by the number of human rights violations, freedom of press issues and other, will face troubles, finding the understanding of international community. Uzbekistan has only one option – to start equal dialogue with neighboring countries, abolish economic embargo and start building market relations", Tajik expert concluded.
The Rogun hydropower plant is the Soviet long term project the completion of which was initiated in September of 2007. According to the project, 6-aggregate Rogun hydropower plant has 335-meter high dam, capable to produce 3.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. This will allow the republic to overcome energy crisis and reach new level of economic achievements. The first two aggregates must be finished no later than in the beginning of 2012. The republic needs 6 billion somoni ($1=4.4 somoni) in order to finish the construction of the Rogun hydropower plant.
By the decision of the government of Tajikistan, entire population is involved in the construction of the strategic object: since January 6 the Rogun stocks have been publicly offered. Overall, the state issued 5 million shares and certificates for total sum of 6 billion somoni (about $1.3 billion). According to the Finance Ministry, national IPO already collected over 150 million US dollars.