Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 7
By Kamila Aliyeva – Trend:
Kyrgyzstan has long been known for its desire to be energy secure and independent from neighboring states.
In order to achieve this goal the country initiated ambitious project to construct the Verkhne-Narynsky cascade of hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) which was delayed due to funding problems and opposition in Uzbekistan.
The country explained its negative view on the project saying that this HPP will reduce flow of the Naryn river and thus result in a lack of water in Uzbek Ferghana Valley – the most densely populated territory not only in Uzbekistan, but the whole Central Asia. Moreover, Uzbekistan saw a great risk of dam break due to seismic activity of the region which can result in flood in tens of Uzbek cities and villages.
Currently, it seems that Uzbekistan has become more neutral on the issue.
Uzbekistan’s attitude towards the construction of hydroelectric power plants in Kyrgyzstan has changed, Leonid Gusev, a senior researcher of Moscow State Foreign Relations Institute’s (MGIMO) Analytical Center, told Trend.
“Uzbekistan has always opposed the construction of Verkhne-Narynski cascade of hydroelectric power plants. Tashkent officials have stated that Kyrgyzstan cannot solely manage the water resources of Central Asia and when resolving such issues it must take into account the views of its neighbors in the region,” the expert said.
However, the situation is slightly different at the moment. The first premises were seen in the beginning of the summer, according to Gusev.
“At the end of June 2017, the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan gave their preliminary consent to the construction of the Kambar Ata HPP in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, we need to see how the events will develop further,” he said.
The recent meeting held Sept. 5 between the presidents of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Almazbek Atambayev also gives ground for reconsideration of the water and energy issues which caused controversy in the past.
Previously, the relationship between these two states was rather strained, however it began to improve after the new president took office in Uzbekistan.
During their meeting, both sides stressed that one of the key factors of the Central Asia’s well-being is the integrated use of water and energy resources, taking into account the interests of all the states of the region.
Moreover, they underlined the importance of open dialogue, strengthening of mutual understanding and development of constructive cooperation, searching for mutually acceptable solutions in this sphere on the basis of reasonable compromises.
The heads of state noted with satisfaction the resumption of electricity exports from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan in 2017 and stressed the interest of the two countries in developing such cooperation on a long-term basis.
At the meeting, the presidents also agreed on the rational use of water resources in accordance with the common interests.
Although it doesn’t mean that Uzbekistan supports the construction of HPPs in Kyrgyzstan, the country demonstrated its readiness for dialogue and compromise. Nevertheless, the project investment problems still exist and its fate remains unclear.
The construction and exploitation of Kambar Ata HPP and the Upper Naryn cascade will allow Kyrgyzstan to produce about five billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year and cover the growing needs of the population.
The investment agreement with the Czech company Liglass Traiding CZ, SRO for the construction of the Verkhne-Narynsky hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) and small hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan was signed on Aug 4.
The deal also envisages the attraction of financing in the amount of about $230 million for the construction of the Akbulun HPP and Naryn HPP-1.
The project of construction of small hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan is implemented by the Kyrgyz government and Liglass Traiding CZ, SRO, following a tender conducted in accordance with the decree of the government, dated May 15, 2017.