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Uzbekistan makes up with Tajikistan over electricity

Staff Writer | March 14, 2018
Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited Tajikistan for the first time in his inaugural term in office.
Uzbekistan Tajikistan
Asia   The upstream-downstream argument
During the visit, he opened up the possibility of dropping longstanding objections to the construction of a large hydropower plant near Dushanbe in a landmark event that could now shape a new path for regional relations in Central Asia.

Relations between the two countries, and especially between former Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon, have been tense for more than two decades, due to Uzbekistan’s support for one of the “losing sides” in Tajikistan’s civil war, from 1992 to 1997.

Rahmon, who emerged as the winner of the internal struggle for power, showed disappointment for Tashkent’s lack of support, while Karimov strongly opposed the rampant leader of Tajikistan.

Enmity between the two presidents also meant cold bilateral relations, harsh diplomatic spats, and tense exchanges in border areas.

While the demarcation of the borders remained – and remains – incomplete, at the beginning of the 2000s, Uzbekistan lined several portions of its geographic boundary with Tajikistan with thousands of mines.

After Rahmon revived a Soviet project to build a dam and hydroelectric power plant in Rogun, not far from the capital Dushanbe on the Vakhsh river, Karimov showed firm opposition, saying the project could endanger the flow of the main rivers from the Pamir mountains down into Uzbekistan’s cotton fields.

The upstream-downstream argument became a routine comment in official exchanges between the two countries.