EU in dispute with Tashkent over Kambarata hydropower station

The village of Kambarata where a hydropower station will be built
EU Special Representative for Central Asia Patricia Flor supported the idea of conducting an independent probe into the construction of the Kambarata hydropower station in Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek today.

Flor took part in the fourth conference EU-Central Asia on environmental protection and water resources that started in Bishkek today.

The EU is trying to mediate in water disputes between Central Asian countries.

However, the EU’s position on the construction of hydropower stations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is threatening to exacerbate this dispute.

Patricia Flor told journalists that she supported the downstream countries, namely Uzbekistan.

She said the construction of the Kambarata station in Kyrgyzstan for Russian money should undergo an international probe.

For the EU all projects undergo an independent probe and this should concern Kambarata, she said, adding that all downstream countries should be involved in it.

Kyrgyzstan’s explanation that the Kambarata station underwent a probe and assessment in Soviet times by the Tashkent-based Gidroproyekt institute is not convincing for the EU, Flor said.

The head of the Uzbek delegation, Deputy Agriculture and Water Ministry Shavkat Hamrayev, expressed satisfaction with Flor’s position.

Asked about the possible outcome of an international probe, he said that it would be negative, i.e. in favour of Tashkent.

In September 2012 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed an agreement on building Kambarata-1 and four hydropower stations of the Naryn cascade.

According to estimates, Kambarata-1 is expected to cost $1.7bn, while each station of the cascade would cost $350m.

The construction of the cascade is expected this spring, while the feasibility study of Kambarata-1 would be completed by the end of the year.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has repeatedly voiced opposition against Kyrgyz and Tajik power station and said last year that this might lead to a war in the region.

After NATO said it would leave weapons withdrawn from Afghanistan in Uzbekistan, Karimov’s threats are taken seriously in the neighbouring capitals.