DUSHANBE, September 27, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Central Asia’s political and strategic significance, along with its rich natural resources, remained the focus of the world community, Elyor Ghaniyev, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, noted at the general debate of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 26.

According to him, ongoing conflict in Afghanistan remained the most destabilizing factor, not only in the region, but also in the entire world.  “It is necessary to especially underscore that, today, no one has any doubts that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem,” he said, adding, Afghans must resolve their country’s problems on their own through compromise.  The events in Kyrgyzstan of June 2010 were also a serious challenge to stability in the region, and until investigations are carried out and the perpetrators punished, it was difficult to expect restoration of trust and cooperation between the Uzbek community and the Kyrgyzs.

Socio-economic development of Central Asia was also influenced by the environmental disaster of the Aral Sea, which was turning into “a drying and disappearing pond”, he said.  Any action using trans-boundary rivers also had to take into account the interests of all States in their basin, as well as international law.  “In these circumstances, the attempts to implement the projects on construction of the giant hydro-facilities at the upper stream of the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers are counterproductive and dangerous,” he said.  “We do not ignore the rights of the upper stream countries to develop their hydropower sector.  In our view, it would be rather rational and safer to build the cascades of small hydropower facilities with the same total capacity for power generation.”

We will recall that in a statement delivered by at the general debate of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi noted on September 26 that implementation of the national development strategy remains one of priorities of work of the Government of Tajikistan.  In this connection, Tajikistan is focusing on energy and food security, as well as overcoming its transportation and communication isolation, Zarifi noted.

He said that 60 per cent of Central Asia’s water resources originated in Tajikistan, but more than 35 per cent of glaciers there had disappeared over the past 30 years.

For more than 10 years, Tajikistan had experienced a severe shortage of electrical supply in winter, the minister noted.  According to him, it is vitally important to develop the huge potential of its hydro-sector in a consistent and complex manner, and his country is prepared to closely cooperate on issues of rational use of water and energy resources with all in the region.

“To resolve the crisis of the degradation of the Aral Sea, countries in the region also need to invest huge capital in the water sector and reduce the area of irrigated lands with high water absorbency,” said Zarifi.

The UN Radio reports Tajik foreign minister stressed that a large number of reservoirs built in downstream countries has a significant influence on the degradation of the Aral Sea.  “Therefore, Tajikistan offers to conduct the complex examination of the Central Asian water use system under the aegis of the United Nations,” Zarifi noted.