Crossroads Asia | Economic system | Central Asia
Tashkent appears to have delicately eliminated itself from discussing Dushanbe’s Rogun dam, as a substitute providing options.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev paid an official go to to Dushanbe on June 10-11. It was Mirziyoyev’s second go to to the Tajik capital since his presidency started in 2016. In 2018, Mirziyoyev made a state go to to Dushanbe and hosted a reciprocal go to by Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon the identical yr.
This second go to in 5 years by Mirziyoyev beats the file of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, who visited Dushanbe as soon as, in 2000, in his virtually three many years of rule.
Mirziyoyev’s newest go to to Tajikistan targeted on two areas. First, the 2 international locations plan to proceed strengthening financial actions, and second, Tashkent with out instantly touching the Rogun dam concern, proposed another. The Rogun dam has lengthy been a delicate subject between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Mirziyoyev’s newest go to means that regardless of improved bilateral relations, opposition lingers in Tashkent.
The go to befell as each international locations have a good time their strongest commerce relations prior to now 20 years. Commerce turnover grew exponentially and greater than doubled since Mirziyoyev got here to energy, from $197 million in 2016 to $502 million in 2020. This development is rooted primarily in elevated Uzbek exports to Tajikistan – in 2020, $405 million of the $502 million in commerce had been exports from Uzbekistan and $97 million imports to Uzbekistan. Dominant merchandise among the many exports from Uzbekistan had been meals, knitwear, petroleum merchandise, chemical merchandise, and ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Throughout Mirziyoyev’s go to, the international locations agreed to construct two hydroelectric energy vegetation on the Tajikistan aspect of the Zarafshan river. The joint initiatives are estimated to price $282 million and $270 million, to be financed by inside funds and out of doors loans and grants. The facility vegetation could have a capability of 140 and 135 megawatts, respectively, and are deliberate to provide electrical energy to Uzbekistan. The 2 hydroelectric energy vegetation, in essence, could take away the compelling causes for Uzbekistan to help the Rogun dam, which Rahmon has lengthy promised would profit the entire area with out reducing the annual provide of water.
The Rogun dam dampened relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan for many years. Uzbekistan’s opposition was sturdy. Regardless of bettering relations between the international locations since 2016, beneath which Uzbekistan’s leaders had been much less loud about opposition to the mission, Tashkent additionally didn’t see the advantages of the dam. The final time an Uzbek official stated something relating to the mission was when Minister of Overseas Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov expressed his issues in 2017 in regards to the Rogun dam having antagonistic results on Uzbekistan.
One other much less contentious concern between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is the finalization of interstate border points. No new assertion or settlement adopted Mirziyoyev’s newest assembly together with his Tajik counterpart. Either side are at the moment concerned in border demarcation actions that contain putting in bodily separators on the border based on the settlement signed in 2018, when Mirziyoyev visited Dushanbe, and the border delimitation plan that was agreed to in 2019. However actions demarcating border had been launched with out the signing of the 2019 border delimitation plan between the prime ministers of each international locations, as had been anticipated. Due to this fact, it’s unclear whether or not Tashkent nonetheless has excellent points with the plan and is awaiting the finalization of the demarcation course of to signal a last doc.
If the 2018 conferences between the leaders of each international locations had been about fixing speedy points — comparable to restoring border crossings between the international locations, restoring the Galaba-Amuzang railroad that in any other case blockaded the southern a part of Tajikistan from any outdoors connections, easing visa restrictions, and changing into strategic cooperation companions — then the newest assembly was about increasing and doubling financial cooperation and refining plans on the development of hydroelectric vegetation. The Rogun dam mission appears to have once more turn into a taboo subject, and subsequently, didn’t come up within the newest assembly. As a substitute Uzbekistan delicately proposed an alternative choice to Dushanbe.