Rails and crossties are being dismounted and carried away far into the territory of Uzbekistan
The Uzbek authorities are trying to take over the Farkhad dam situated in Tajikistan and inflicting a gas and transport blockade on Tajikistan for refusing to give away the dam.
A sharp deterioration in relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which has lately turned into a public correspondence between the two countries’ prime ministers, has been incited by Tashkent’s desire to take over the Farkhad dam, a reliable source in the Tajik official circles has told Uznews.net.
Without any legal base, Uzbekistan is insisting on changing the state borderline between the countries so that the Farkhad dam is included into the Uzbek territory, the source added.
The Farkhad hydroelectric complex that has a small water reservoir was built in modern Tajikistan’s territory in 1947. It was designed to withdraw water from Syrdarya and to let water flow down to the steppes of Golodny (in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) and Dalverzinsky (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).
The hydroelectric complex includes a dam and water gates, one of them serving the Farkhad hydropower station located on the territory of Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan has refused to give away the Farkhad dam to Uzbekistan, referring to acts of 1960-1961 that have been adopted by mutual consent as a basis for border delimitation and demarcation between the now independent states.
The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has not answered a journalist’s request to confirm or deny the Tajik party’s information and to explain based on what and how Tashkent is intending to take over the Farkhad dam.
Rail freight blockade
Tajikistan’s contradiction has turned out to be Uzbekistan’s incredible economic pressure on the country in the form of energy and rail freight blockade.
Since 2010, Uzbekistan has systematically blocked the transit of rail freight into Tajikistan.
On 17 November 2011, Tashkent blocked the transit of rail freight into southern regions of Tajikistan, claiming that an “act of terrorism” had taken place on the 44 km-long railway section Termez-Amuzang.
Tajikistan has repeatedly requested to restore the railway and offered help, arguing that people, hospitals and schools are suffering from the blockade of cargo, such as goods and fuel.
The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has rejected help from Tajikistan.
“The Uzbek side has decided to take all necessary measures independently to investigate the railway explosion and to restore it immediately,” says note No 12/36794 issued by the Uzbek Foreign Ministry on 7 December 2011.
However, the railway has not yet been restored. Late in March 2012, it became known that the Uzbek authorities had began to dismantle the railway section.
Demounted rails and crossties are being taken away deep into the territory of Uzbekistan, the source in the Tajik official circles said.
On 5 January 2012, Tajikistan signed a deal with Uzbekistan for a staged supply of 200m cu m of natural gas in 2012. However, two months later Uzbekistan stated that it would stop gas supplies to Tajikistan on 1 April.
The Uzbek first deputy prime minister and minister of finance, Rustam Azimov, on 18 March sent a letter to his Tajik counterpart, Murodali Alimardon, saying the following:
“In response to your letter dated 16 March 2012, we inform you that in line with the contract signed between the Uzbektransgaz and Tajikgaztrans companies in the city of Tashkent on 5 January 2012 guaranteed supplies of natural gas to Tajikistan are provided for the first quarter of 2012.”
“In view of the lack of available resources, further natural gas supply to Tajikistan is impossible,” the Uzbek minister concludes his letter peremptorily.
Tajikistan has described increasing gas supplies to Russia and China as a farfetched reason and regarded Tashkent’s decision as a desire to worsen situation in Tajikistan.
Barrier to Turkmen electricity
Devil-may-care attitude towards its own commitments is not the only leverage that Tashkent is using to put pressure on its southern neighbour. Under various pretexts, it has for many years blocked the transit of Turkmen electricity.
“Similar actions by the Uzbek authorities have doomed population in Tajikistan to harsher living conditions,” the Tajik source told Uznews.net.
The Tajik authorities believe that Tashkent is inciting growth in social tension in Tajikistan.
Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev tried to respond to Tajikistan’s claims on 3 April.
He posted his answer to his Tajik counterpart, Akil Akilov, saying that all of Tajikistan’s claims “are not justified at all” while Uzbekistan’s actions “fully meet requirements of the international law”.
Mirziyayev’s letter carried nothing but refutation of obvious things. The letter does not say anything about the proven facts that the railway bed was demounted and the natural gas supply was stopped unilaterally.
Mirziyayev talked about guaranteed supplies of 45m cu m of natural gas and hushed up the fact that the deal had been signed for 200m cu m.
He also held back the fact that the two sides could have jointly repaired the railway section which Mirziyayev said was damaged “by tragic events” and is being stripped down and moved away from Tajikistan as far as possible.
The Uzbek prime minister did not mention one of the solid reasons for the dispute, which is the Farkhad dam, either.