Russia will help Tajikistan build power plants

Oil&Gas Materials 30 January 2009 11:24 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 30 / Trend , V.Zhavoronkova, T.Zhukov/

Despite Tajikistan's anxiety, Russia will not waive its obligations to construct hydroelectric power stations in the country. But Russia may postpone the projects due to the global financial crisis, experts believe. "The construction of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Station in Tajikistan will not be canceled. But the period for construction will be shifted. I think there is a lack of money for such projects," Russian expert on the CIS Vladimir Zharikhin told Trend in a telephone conversation from Moscow.

Leading Tajik publications have criticized Russian leadership after a statement made by President Dimitry Medvedev during his recent visit to Uzbekistan, CA-News reported. Medvedev said the construction of power stations in Central Asia should be coordinated with neighboring states. The Tajik public perceived the statement as Russia's refusal to complete the Rogun plant, as well as three other plants on the country's inland rivers. But experts believe the conclusions are premature and Russia has no plans to violate its agreements. Tajikistan interpreted Medvedev's statement incorrectly, independent Uzbek political analyst Sergei Ezhkov said.

"Medvedev understands Uzbekistan's position, which insists that such globally important projects must be coordinated with neighboring states," Ezhkov told Trend in a telephone conversation from Tashkent.

Relations between the two Central Asian countries have been strained recently due to water shortages.

Almost all the water used in the countries is taken from two key rivers - Syr Darya and Amu Darya.

Syr Darya runs from Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan to Uzbekistan through the densely populated Fergana Valley and Kazakhstan. Amu Darya flows from Tajikistan to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

As a result, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are heavily dependent on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for water.

Constructing the new plant in Tajikistan is necessary to combat a shortage of electricity in the country. But the project may further reduce water supplies to Uzbekistan.

Relations between the countries are currently very strained, Zharikhin said.

"If Russia partakes in constructing the plants, it should find a definite compromise and persuade the Tajik and Uzbek governments," he said.

The water flow is too important for Uzbek agriculture for the country's government to turn a blind eye to the project, Zharikhin said.

"If the Rogun plant is commissioned, two Uzbek districts will starve," renowned Uzbek Ecologist Tulkin Mirzabekov told Trend .

Regardless, Russia's obligations to construct the plant will be fulfilled, Ezhkov said.

But it may postpone the projects due to the global financial crisis as Russia does not have the additional means at the moment, Zharikhin said.

"Construction periods will not only be prolonged for hydroelectric power stations. We are facing a crisis," he said.

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