President Atambayev told about U-turn of Presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on water resources use by Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev while meeting with media representatives after the state visit to Russia stated that the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan gave their preliminary consent for the construction of the Kambarata hydropower station in Kyrgyzstan.
Almazbek Atambayev meeting with media representatives on 24 June 2017. Photo by the press service of the President of Kyrgyzstan
Answering Interfax's question, President Atambayev said that Kyrgyzstan had found an investor and at the end of July an agreement on it would be signed for the cascade located in Upper Naryn River, which flows through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as Syrdarya river.
“Of course, we will find an investor for Kambar-Ata-1 [another hydro project], because Kambar-Ata is the key to the water resources of the whole of Central Asia. Though, of course, I am willing to build it together with the downstream countries, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Previously, both presidents agree,” Finmarket quotes President Atambayev.
Earlier, Uzbekistan opposed construction of two mentioned projects of hydroelectric power plants, as well as against the construction of another project of the Rogun hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan. The first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov even spoke about the likelihood of war if the interests of countries located in the lower reaches of transboundary rivers are not taken into account in the distribution of the region's water resources. He warned of the threat of dam breakthrough of hydroelectric power stations, which will be built in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev supported the Uzbek colleague: “This issue is very important for all the republics. We are sending one more fraternal greetings to our neighbours and brothers who are located in the headwaters of these rivers to the fact that we, below, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the Amudarya, Turkmenistan, most of all feel the shortage of simply water. Everyone feels [this] on their lives because this is their life, the lives of millions of people.”
Sharp statements criticising the construction of the mentioned hydropower stations were made prior the prior the agreements between Russia and Kyrgyzstan on the construction of the plants. Such an agreement Moscow and Bishkek already concluded in 2008. Then the construction of the station was estimated at $2 billion. Moscow was ready to give a $1.7 billion loan for the project, but in 2010 accused Bishkek of misappropriating the $450 million allocated under the agreement and suspended the implementation of the agreement.
A new agreement on the construction of the Kambarata hydropower plant was signed in September 2012 during President Putin's visit to Bishkek. Russia promised to allocate more than $2 billion for the construction of these facilities: $1.7 billion for the first project and $400 million for another. President Putin reported that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were invited to cooperate in the construction of the hydropower stations, but did not specify on what terms.
In October 2012, four-party talks were held in Alma-Ata in which vice premiers and representatives of the relevant ministries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia took part. The parties agreed to establish a working group on the conditions for entering the Kambarata hydropower station project, but later Uzbekistan refused to cooperate.
Representatives of Tashkent were also absent during the meetings of the countries of the upper and lower reaches of the Naryn River in 2013 to discuss the project. Bishkek responded as follows: “Kyrgyzstan regrets that the refusal of official Uzbekistan from constructive dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation, the continued publication of doubtful arguments and biased statements lead to a complication in the relations of our peoples who historically have been and will be good neighbours.”
Meanwhile, in 2015 Russia did not resolve the issue of financing the cascade construction project and did not determine the funding sources for 2016, which caused the delay in the launch and disruption of the planned launch of the first aggregate of the Naryn-1 unit in 2016.
In January 2016, Kyrgyzstan denounced agreements with Russia on construction and operation of Kambarata-1 and Upper Naryn cascade project.
“Concerning the hydropower plant, the conversation was like this: I told Vladimir Vladimirovich [President Putin] that it was a big mistake on the part of the Russian side, (....) a big mistake made by the heads of the relevant departments, and once you understand this, you will punish them,” President Atambayev said while meeting with journalists on 24 June 2017.
Earlier, it was reported that the Chinese State Power Investment Corporation intends to build another Kazarman cascade of hydroelectric power stations on the Naryn River.