11 Conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are long-running. Uzbekistan is the largest consumer of water resources in Central Asia, especially Kyrgyzstan`s water. It should be noted that Kyrgyzstan is the only country in Central Asia where water resources are almost entirely constituted on its own territory. It has about 30,000 rivers and streams2, which provide significant water and water resources, one of its main economic resources. In summer, Uzbekistan needs water to carry irrigation from the Toktogul Reservoir, the largest water reservoir in Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. In return, Kyrgyzstan consumes gas from Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan did not have sufficient resources for the timely payment of gas supplies, but decided to release water during the non-cultivation period in order to produce electricity in winter. Changes to the Toktogul labour regime resulted in flooding of human dwellings and farmland in the Fergana Valley and droughts in the summer due to insufficient water that had to be emptied (Valentini et al., 2004). 37 At the Dushanbe Forum 2015, Russia expressed its immediate economic interest in resolving water-related issues in Central Asia. Boris Kizeev, director of the Russian Institute for Water Research and Land Extraction, said: 6 Regional security in Central Asia is determined by different factors.
One of these is the allocation of cross-border water resources with increasing potential for escalation, both at the national and local levels – in the riparian countries – and at the regional level, including at the water basin level. As summarized in classical theory of political realism (Morgenthau, 1954; Aron, 1962), like any other conflict, water conflicts in Central Asia are caused by the disparity in the interests of the parties involved. In Central Asia, the problem of water allocation is of crucial strategic importance for each riparian country and is often used as leverage in their international relations (Kaakimov, 2013). Unlike oil and gas, water is still seen as “free.” It is often not used either by taking into account the vital interests of other riparian countries, nor by taking into account the different sectors dependent on water or sectoral interdependence. 32 The scope of the existing regional regulatory framework includes intergovernmental cooperation in all areas of the relationship, including energy, agriculture and the environment, but it is far from perfect. It does not deal with the legal principles of fair and equitable use of resources, nor with the principle of basin management. Although it geographically covers the Aral Sea basin, it does not address surface water from Afghanistan and does not regulate the groundwater regime.