DUSHANBE, April 3, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- On Monday April 2, Tajik Embassy in Moscow released a statement on the current situation in relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The statement, in particular, notes that despite efforts taken by Tajikistan and aimed at developing and strengthening bilateral cooperation with Uzbekistan as well as overcoming topical challenges in interstate relations that touches upon interests, aspiration and hopes of brotherly peoples of the two countries, “the leadership of Uzbekistan continues carrying out a policy line towards confrontation and utilization of economic, transport, communication and other leverage to compel the Tajik leadership to take decisions that meet the benefits of the Uzbek leadership.”

“Since 2010, Uzbekistan has been systematically implementing transport blockade of southern and central regions of the Republic of Tajikistan through intentional blocking of Tajik goods wan at Uzbek railway stations.

“Thus, since the 17th of November 2011 and up to now, the Uzbek side appealing to the damage caused to the railway bridge at Ghalaba – Amuzang stage allegedly by terrorist act, has blocked the transit of goods van intended for the needs of the population of the southern districts of the Republic of Tajikistan, and that was in full cold winter and the very beginning of sowing campaign leaving the people of the aforesaid districts, including hospitals, schools and other social objects with no consumer goods and fuels and lubricants.  However, despite great many appeals by the Tajik side as well as proposals to provide assistance in reconstructing the mentioned railway section which links Tajikistan up with other CIS countries, the Uzbek side as yet has not started reconstruction works.  Moreover, according to trusted information, at present, the Uzbek side conducts dismantling of the railway section.  It should be mentioned that previously the Uzbek side has motivated closing of the noted railway section as caused by blasting on this railway section but it the same railway section that is used to take the dismantled pales and rails out deep into the territory of Uzbekistan.

“It is notable that the named railway section is of vital importance for socioeconomic maintenance of Khatlon as well as Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan with about 3 million people that live therein.  The transport isolation of the mentioned regions leads to no opportunities for timely transportation of goods including international humanitarian aid for low-income groups.

“It should be mentioned that the Uzbek side has been violating many times its commitments, namely on gas delivery to Tajikistan.  Thus, on January 5, 2012, Tajikistan has concluded an agreement on step-by-step deliveries of 200 million cubic meters of Uzbek gas for 2012. However, no longer than in two months, the Uzbek side declared that starting from the 1st of April 2012 it was going to fully stop gas deliveries to Tajikistan appealing to alleged reason of increase in deliveries to Russia and China, thus worsening already stressed situation in ensuring the population and industrial facilities with gas supplies.

“Moreover, the Uzbek side, over the past several years under difference pretence, is fully banning the transit of Turkmen electricity to Tajikistan through its territory which contradicts fundamental principles of international law and agreements previously signed by Uzbekistan and, thus binding it on secure transmission and transit of electricity and rational utilization of the regional resources.

“Such actions by the Uzbek authorities ahead of acute electricity shortage condemn the people to even tougher living conditions.  As a result of yearly electricity shortage during autumn and winter periods, the Tajik authorities are forced to impose hard electricity consumption limit across the country.  Thus, schools, hospitals and other social facilities are forcedly used to be cut off power and there were also deaths during that.  Such actions conducted by the Uzbek side are by this way aimed at inspiration of social tensions and increase of country’s popular dissatisfaction with the leadership of Tajikistan.

“Hydroelectric development on inland waters of Tajikistan including completion of the Roghun Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) plays special role in Tajik-Uzbek relations.  Over the past several years, the Uzbek side, using farfetched and groundless pretences has been trying to put obstacles on the way of development of this vital sector of the Tajik economy.  At the same time, Uzbekistan, violating the international law and without any consultations with neighboring countries that belong to the Aral Sea Basin has constructed tens of water reservoirs in its territory which allow Uzbekistan to accumulate significant volume of the Amudarya and Sirdarya Rivers’ flow and, thus it worsens already disastrous situation of the Aral Sea.  Regardless of the international assessment of the draft of the completion of the Roghun HPP which still is underway and has not been finished yet, the Uzbek side continues purposeful information campaign aimed at aggravating the situation on the object which is of critical importance for Tajikistan.  The final aim of the steps taken by the Uzbek side is to mislead the international community and prevent completion of the object.

“Heavy problems under the pretext of environmental protection are being caused by the Uzbek authorities regarding the work of the Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) - a strategically important object of the Tajik economy.  Problems are followed by inspired information campaign and customized protests by people who live in Uzbek border regions.  Moreover, calling international forums on regional ecology wherein Tajikistan-related trans-border challenges are discussed, the Uzbek side intentionally ignores participation of the competent representatives from Tajikistan.  At the same time, there are a number of environmentally detrimental industrial facilities (Bekabad and Almalik mining and smelting plants and almost the entire industrial zone of the Ferghana) in Uzbekistan in close proximity to Tajikistan.  At the same time, when the Tajik proposes conducting a joint environmental assessment in the influence zone of TACLO as well as those of the industrial facilities of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek side intentionally refuses to participate in such assessment.

“Delimitation and demarcation issues on the remaining disputed border areas on the Tajik-Uzbek border under the Article 4 of the Agreement between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan “On State Border” are still unsettled and that worsens interstate relations.  At the same time, the Uzbek side, in contravention of all international norms and having no sufficient ground for that in terms of an ultimatum demands handling the “Farhod Dam” border area along with its respective territory which means nothing but an attempt to annex the territory of sovereign Tajikistan.

“Mine clearance on 54 areas on the joint state border wherein mines still are laid by the Uzbek side and which really threaten lives and health of the peoples of both countries, remains another serious problem of the interstate relations.  Aforesaid minefields were laid in 1999 with no notification send to the Tajik side and without giving any consideration to uncompleted joint delimitation and demarcation works.  Moreover, the minefields are not fenced around and have no markings, they pose significant hazard for the health and lives of those who live in border districts of the two countries.  Over the period, more than 100 civilians died and 93 including children that amounted half of the figures have been severely injured in minefields. Such actions of the Uzbek side contradict centuries-old spirit of traditional friendship and good neighborly relations among our peoples as well as the universal norms of the international humanitarian law and provisions of the majority of international legal acts.

“In violation of the bilateral Inter-Governmental Agreement on Border Security Checkpoints, 14 of total 16 security checkpoints provided under the Agreement have been unilaterally closed by Uzbekistan for pass of people, vehicles, goods and traffic.  Moreover, limitations have been imposed on the 2 remaining security checkpoints.  That caused significant complications in travels of people who live in border districts of the two countries as well as transportation of goods through the border and, at the outset in providing Tajik enclaves with medicines and essential commodities.

“Besides, Uzbekistan unilaterally and every year increases the rate of charges for transit of Tajik passenger trains. In 2012, the increase amounted 60%.  It is notable that it is the forth increase of indexation coefficient imposed by the Uzbek side that has already lead to 32% increase in price of all imported goods and has negatively affected the social situation in the country.

“The continuation of the transport blockade of southern and central regions of Tajikistan, maintenance of minefields on Tajik-Uzbek border, groundless claims to a number of Tajik facilities (sections of power transmission lines, railway-side facilities) and border areas, putting obstacles on the way to transit of gas and electricity through the territory of Uzbekistan contradicts the efforts taken by the United Nations on achieving the Millennium Development Goals and represent an ignoring of the norm of the modern international practice which rejects using barriers, blockades and any other limitations in development of interstate relations as well as imposing on a sovereign state decisions which meet only the interests of one side.

“The aforementioned unilateral actions by the Uzbek authorities as a matter of fact are a proof of an undeclared and permanent economic blockade imposed on Tajikistan and aimed at destabilization of socio-economic situation in the country.  The situation, be continued the same way, will lead to further deterioration of the conditions of life of the people of Tajikistan and threatens to turn out into a humanitarian catastrophe.”