The presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan called Friday for the United Nations to review the potential impact of two disputed hydroelectric dams proposed by their regional rivals Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, AFP
Uzbekistan and Kazakstan, Central Asia's most powerful and resource-rich countries, both depend on water flows from the region's smallest and poorest nations, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov said a review of the Rogun dam project in Tajikistan and the Kambar-Ata dam project in Kyrgyzstan must be held under the auspices of the UN and agreed with downstream countries.
He warned that both dams, located on tectonic fault lines with high seismicity activity, could put millions of lives in downstream countries in danger if natural or man-made disasters occur.
"Convince us that nothing is threatening our environment and that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will get the same volume of water that we are getting now," Karimov said.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan see the mega-dams as a means for solving their chronic energy shortages while enabling them to be net exporters of electricity.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was on a visit to Uzbekistan, said his government's position on hydro-energy projects matched Karimov's.
"We would like to send a friendly message to our neighbours that we must resolve these problems jointly," Nazarbayev said. "There is a need for dialogue."
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan say the launch of the Tajik and Kyrgyz dams would ruin agriculture in downstream countries, cause economic hardship for millions of people and exacerbate the ecological problems of the shrinking Aral Sea.