KAZAKHSTANS STRUGGLE TO MAINTAIN SOVEREIGNTY OVER SOME OF ITS LAND AND WATER AREAS

Andrei CHEBOTAREV


Andrei Chebotarev, Political scientist, consultant for the public foundation Transparency Kazakhstan (Republic of Kazakhstan)


The territory of any state is an important element of its sovereignty. It comprises the land and water space which is separated from other countries by an established border. The loss of even some of this space, particularly under the pressure of internal (separatism, such as Abkhazias separation from Georgia, Nagorny Karabakhs from Azerbaijan, Chechnias short-lived independence from Russia) and external (diplomatic pressure, military pressure) factors can lead to a countrys serious political destabilization, right down to its collapse. Thus, one of the main tasks of any state is maintaining sovereignty over its own territory.

It is obvious that this is also what the Republic of Kazakhstan is trying to do. As follows from Para 2, Art 2 and Para 2, Art 91 of the countrys Constitution, the republics sovereignty extends to all of its territory, the state ensures integrity, inviolability, and non-alienation of its territory, and Kazakhstans territorial integrity established by the Constitution cannot be changed.

At the same time, it should be noted that when it acquired state independence and gained access to the world arena as an independent entity of international relations, Kazakhstan encountered the problem of preserving sovereignty over some of its land and water areas. In Kazakhstans history, this problem arose quite frequently even before its final annexation to Russia (during the second half of the 19th century), when Kazakh territory was seized and annexed by Djungaria, China, the Khiva and Kokand khanates, Russia, and others.

We will single out the two main reasons for this. The first was that the Kazakhs did not have a single state formation, since they were broken down into clans, which barred the possibility of creating a national apparatus and military organization capable of ensuring the independence of particular Kazakh territories. The second reason was that the time-honored Kazakh territories did not have precisely established borders with other states, which, as mentioned above, meant there was no state as such with all its mandatory attributes, and the Kazakhs led a nomadic way of life, whereby they frequently moved and lived on land which other states considered their own.

While it belonged to the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, under the conditions of a Union republic, Kazakhstan also lost some of the territory on which the Kazakhs historically resided. This included areas which were transferred on the orders of the czarist, and then the Soviet government. At present, they mainly belong to Russia and Uzbekistan. The consequences of the administrative and command system made themselves felt after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the new independent states, including Kazakhstan, demanded a review of the existing borders of the former Union republics. This mainly involved two important problems: delimitation and protection of the land and water borders of the CIS states, as well as the use of the water, biological, communication, and other resources of the transborder seas, lakes, rivers, and other reservoirs.

Border Disputes and Conflicts

The total length of Kazakhstans state border, according to some data (there is still no final figure), constitutes approximately 14,000 km, whereby its border with Russia is 7,200 km, with Uzbekistan, 2,150 km, with China, 1,740 km, with Kyrgyzstan, 1,050 km, and with Turkmenistan, 400 km. There is also 600 km of sea border in the Caspian.1 Exact information on the actual length of Kazakhstans state border will not be available until after its delimitation has been completed. However, due to several difficulties, this process may drag out until 2007-2008.

It should be noted that the problem of maintaining security of the republics state border is accompanied by two important processes. The first of them is delimitation, that is, clarification of the line along which the border passes. It is fundamentally related to the demarcation procedure, which implies physically marking the state borderline by erecting border signs where it is located. Demarcation is conducted on the basis of delimitation documents.

The second important process in this context is direct protection of the state border by border troops. In Kazakhstan, these troops belong to the National Security Committee. In addition, the customs service, armed forces, interior troops and interior affairs structures also play their part in protecting the republics borders and ensuring the security of its border zones. In this way, it can be said that delimitation is related to the need for political-legal maintenance of the republics sovereignty over particular border areas, and their defense is aimed at protecting this sovereignty.

The problems of delimitation and protection of the republics borders arose only recently. This, in turn, was due to the fact that our states boundaries with other CIS countries are based on the administrative borders that existed among the Union republics of the former Soviet Union. As we mentioned above, delimitation has still not been completed and the state border does not have the necessary attributes, including troop defense. The existing border posts mainly conduct passport control of foreign citizens entering the country in order to intercept smuggling and illegal migration. Since as early as Soviet times, only the border with China had intensified troop protection. Admittedly, due to the recent escalation in tension, and the increase and activation of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and illegal migration, Kazakhstan has taken serious measures to ensure the protection of its borders with other countries as well.

Kazakhstans relations with its neighbors with respect to delimitation and protection of the state border are rather indeterminate. Judging by everything, they combine, to one extent or another, a constructive approach based on mutual understanding and attention to each others interests and antagonism, which arises during the settlement of disputes. In so doing, these disputes are created artificially and are caused by the fluctuations in the political situation.

Problems of Demarcating and Delimitating the Borders with Russia

In this case, it must be noted that when tough pragmatist Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia perceptibly activated its foreign policy with respect to Kazakhstan and the other post-Soviet republics of Central Asia. Moscow is trying to reinforce its presence in the region in order to realize its own geopolitical and economic interests. This, in turn, means that the Kremlin views the borders of the Central Asian states with China, Afghanistan, and Iran as the boundaries of its own geopolitical arena, considering them in essentially equal terms as the borders of the Russian Federation.

Moscow is trying to ensure its presence on these borders by means of various interstate agreements. In particular, at the meetings of the Council of CIS Heads of State (7 August, 1993 and 15 April, 1994), corresponding declarations were adopted on border inviolability and on observing the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of the Commonwealth countries. The sides also agreed on joint border protection.2 There are still Russian border guards in Tajikistan defending the Tajik-Afghan border. In addition, since 2000, the Russian Nuclear Power Industry Ministry has been modernizing Kyrgyzstans borders, thus assisting their protection.

As for border relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, during former Russian President Boris Yeltsins official visit to Kazakhstan on 12 October, 1998, a Protocol of Intentions on delimitation of the state border between these countries was signed, and in 1999, the sides began this delimitation. According to the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry, at the end of October 2001, the state borderline was agreed upon along a section 3,875 km in length. It will pass between the Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Orenburg, and Cheliabinsk regions of Russia and the Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Aktiubinsk, and Kostanai regions of Kazakhstan.3 Admittedly, disagreements also arose in the process, but both sides nevertheless managed to find an acceptable solution to them.

In particular, while defining the border along the small Kigach River, which runs between the Astrakhan and Atyrau regions, disputes arose around the island of Ukatniy. The thing is that this island is directly related to the promising oil structure of Kurmangazy, the supplies of which, according to some estimates, amount to 600 million tons. This first precedent of a territorial dispute between Russia and Kazakhstan proved not to be the only one.

As follows from an analytical note to the Volgograd Region governor, prepared by the Volgograd Regional Board of Federal Structures under the Russian presidential representative in March 2000, Kazakhstan citizens are buying up land plots and other real estate in the Pallasov District of the region. According to the board, this could create difficulties in the near future when defining the precise location of the borderline.4 It is possible that until delimitation is completed, this and other precedents like it will cause serious territorial disputes between Russia and Kazakhstan.

On the whole, there are real grounds to believe that Moscow might raise the question of revising the border between Russia and Kazakhstan and transferring some areas of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation. First, the borders established between them as early as Soviet times were defined exclusively arbitrarily based on administrative and economic factors without taking into account the actual national-cultural situation. Beginning in 1920, when the Kazakh A.S.S.R. was formed, the republics administrative borders were refashioned more than once with certain areas being added or taken away.

In particular, in 1920-1922, by a decision of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Central Committee, the Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Turgai, and Ural regions, part of the Astrakhan gubernia, and so on, were added to the Kazakh A.S.S.R. Whereby this process was not without its problems. For example, the party Soviet structures of Western Siberia tried to object to the transfer of the Semipalatinsk and Akmolinsk regions to Kazakhstan. The Ural gubernia party committee protested the decree on the return of a 10-verst strip along the left bank of the Urals to the Kazakh people and demanded that the Center separate the Ural gubernia from the Kazakh A.S.S.R.5 It is very likely that present-day Russia may review and declare illegitimate many of the decisions made by the former Soviet leadership.

Second, Russia is paying close attention to the contiguous northern and northeastern areas of Kazakhstan, where Russian residents predominate. Taking this into account, many of Russias national-radical forces are constantly discussing the return of these Kazakhstan lands to Russia. They constantly make statements about the violation of rights and infringement of the interests of Russians living in Kazakhstan. There is no doubt that they are taking advantage of certain biases in the national and linguistic policy of the Kazakhstan authorities which provoke the Russian population to move out of the republic.

Nevertheless, the immense positive potential that has developed today in the relations between the two states, as well as their interest in political, economic, and cultural cooperation, provide every reason to believe that the delimitation of their common border will not go beyond the bounds of civility and will not destroy this cooperation. Although, taking into account the above-mentioned problems, certain disputes will no doubt arise.

Borders with Regional Neighbors

Delimitation of Kazakhstans state border with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan is a rather ambiguous process. This process is developing most favorably with Bishkek. At the end of October 2001, the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan borderline was essentially defined. At present, government delegations from both countries are preparing documents for approving the draft of a corresponding agreement, which the presidents of both states will sign. In so doing, the sides are not raising the question of controversial sections. According to some data, the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border will not be demarcated. In addition, in 2001, a trilateral agreement was signed on the point of interception among the borders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.6 Judging by everything, this came about due to the immense constructive potential in relations between Astana and Bishkek.

Delimitation of the land section of Kazakhstans border with Turkmenistan was carried out in essentially the same way. It was conducted on the basis of a memorandum (April 1999) and agreement (July 2001) signed by the two countries on delimitation and demarcation of their joint border. In so doing, there were no serious disputes or disagreements, although representatives of the Turkmenian authorities have at times tried to violate the border with Kazakhstan. In particular, Turkmenian border guards moved two of their posts deep into Kazakhstan territory, one of them by as much as 10 km. There were also cases of illegal development of oil and gas deposits by Turkmenistan specialists on Kazakhstan territory.7 But in general, the question of territorial-border location was resolved positively.

Border relations with Uzbekistan are rather rocky. This is largely due to the fact that Tashkent fancies itself as a regional leader of sorts. Thus, it is putting constant pressure on its neighbors by taking advantage of the available political, legal, and economic levers and creating all manner of obstacles with respect to supplying its neighbors with gas, the joint use of rivers, the toughening up of customs and passport-visa control of citizens and vehicles entering Uzbekistan, not accepting the CISs integration initiatives, and so on.

Tashkents hegemonic claims in the region frequently prompt it to engage in action aimed at reviewing the existing borders and redefining the territory of neighboring countries, including Kazakhstan, in its favor. The first serious border incident between the two states occurred in January-February 2000 when representatives of the Uzbek authorities and border service began unilaterally demarcating the border, without notifying the Kazakhstan side, in so doing committing several coercive acts against Kazakhstan citizens. In particular, these acts took place near the Dostyk division of the Konysbaev state farm and the settlement of Bagys in the Saryagash District, as well as near the village of Kzyltan of the Kazygurt District in the South Kazakhstan Region. With respect to these acts, the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry sent the Uzbekistan Foreign Ministry a note of protest in which it was stated that according to international norms and regulations, border signs on disputed territory should be set up on the basis of bilateral agreements.8 This was particularly pertinent in light of the fact that Astana and Tashkent had not officially defined where the borderline was to pass.

After this, the sides made attempts to settle the border question at the governmental level. The first round of negotiations between delegations from the two countries was held in February 2000 in Tashkent. At that time, mutual understanding was reached on the fundamentals of legal registration of the border. During the second round, which was held in May of the same year, the provision on organizing and conducting negotiations on delimitation of the state border between these republics was elaborated and approved.

The most important thing was that the presidents of both countries noted more than once that there were no serious problems or disagreements between them concerning the border. At the same time, this in no way removed all the unresolved questions on this subject. Representatives of the Uzbek force structures illegally penetrated into Kazakhstan territory essentially throughout the whole of 2000 and the beginning of 2001 in an attempt to gain a foothold in controversial border regions and frighten local residents who protested these acts. For example, on 8 October, 2000, a group of Uzbek customs officials again broke into the territory of the Saryagash District in the South Kazakhstan Region and, threatening the use of firearms, tried to illegally arrest and take three residents of the village of Tonkiris to Uzbekistan. Other residents from the same village intervened in the conflict, managed to take the gun away from one of the customs officials and hand it over to the Kazakhstan police by way of material evidence. A criminal case was instigated on this incident, which was later transferred for review to the Uzbekistan Prosecutor Generals Office, and a note of protest was sent to the Foreign Ministry.9

Of course, for various reasons, including those of a historical nature, the question of final demarcation and delimitation of the borders between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is problematic for both states. As with Russia, the borders established between them as early as Soviet times did not reflect the historical settlement of particular ethnic groups. Moreover, as the author of these lines has already mentioned, they were refashioned more than once exclusively at the will of the Soviet leadership.

For example, in 1924, during national-state demarcation of Central Asia, the Kazalinsk, Ak-Mechet, Turkestan, Chimkent, as well as a large part of the Aulie-Ata uezds, part of the Tashkent and Mirzagul uezds of the Syrdaria Region, and several areas of the Zhizak uezd of the Samarkand Region went to Kazakhstan.10 In 1925-1930, Karakalpakia was part of Kazakhstan as an autonomous region, which was subsequently transferred to Uzbekistan. The Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan leaders have asked Moscow on several occasions to return specific areas of land.

In July 1946, on the basis of a Soviet Council of Ministers resolution, Uzbekistan was given the right to lease 151,600 hectares of land for 10 years belonging to Kazakhstan, which, admittedly, also received 8,500 hectares of Uzbek territory for lease. Subsequently, the lease term was extended more than once and officially expired in April 1991. Prior to this, the Uzbekistan government asked Kazakhstan to extend the lease term for another 25 years, but this request was denied. However, despite the fact that the question of returning this land to Kazakhstan was raised several times, it is still under the jurisdiction of Uzbekistan. In 1956, Uzbekistan was given the land in the Golodnostep massif and the Bostandyk District, and in 1963, also received the Kirovskiy, Makhtaaral, and Zhetysai districts of the South Kazakhstan Region. Admittedly, due to the efforts of D. Kunaev, who was first secretary of the Republican Communist Party Central Committee during those years, the last three districts, with the exception of two state farms, were returned to Kazakhstan in 1971.

Thus, mutual territorial claims objectively exist. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the land returned to Kazakhstan has already long been settled and developed by the Uzbeks and is oriented toward Tashkent. Moreover, it is believed that Uzbekistan has claims to the Kazakhstan towns of Turkestan and Sairam, 70-80% of the residents of which are Uzbeks. Finally, the question regarding the border passing through the Aral Sea has not been resolved, including through the territory of Vozrozhdenie Island.

Nevertheless, both republics are still making the necessary efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the border question. By the end of October 2001, 2,091 km of the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border were defined and approved.11

Territorial-Border Issues with China

Problems in relations between the Kazakhs and the Chinese arose on numerous occasions as early as the Middle Ages. Admittedly, when Kazakhstan became part of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, pressure on it from China eased somewhat. But the events of 1969 surrounding the military-political confrontation on the Soviet-Chinese border, which affected the region around the Tasti River and the settlement of Zhalanashkol in the Semipalatinsk Region, made themselves keenly felt.

When it acquired its state independence, Kazakhstan started communicating with China on equal terms and relations between them rose to a different level. Primarily, the negative heritage of the Soviet past was overcome and relations were successfully built on a good-neighborly basis. Nevertheless, the border question had to be settled. The PRC authorities raised it for the first time during a visit by Kazakhstan Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko to China in February 1992. On 26 April, 1994, when PRC State Council Premier Li Peng made an official visit to Kazakhstan, the sides signed an Agreement on the Kazakhstan-Chinese Border. On the whole, it stipulated preserving the former line of the Kazakhstan section of the Soviet-Chinese border. But the question was not resolved of two controversial sections which affect the territory between the 15th and 16th, as well as between the 48th and 49th border points.12 Due to this, demarcation has been extended indefinitely.

At the same time, the actions of Kazakhstan and China were aimed at overcoming many years of uncertainty and confrontation in relations between the former Soviet republics and the PRC, at creating a climate of trust and strengthening security along the entire length of the common section of the former Soviet-Chinese border, and at developing further constructive cooperation. In this respect, the agreements on strengthening trust in the military sphere and mutual reduction of armed forces in the border region signed in April 1996 and April 1997 by the heads of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan are of immense importance. In particular, they envisaged withdrawing troops and armaments, with the exception of border contingents, to 100 km from the border, refraining from conducting military maneuvers aimed against the other side, and declining to build up troops in the border region. These agreements formed the foundation of the informal interstate political bloc The Shanghai Five, which became the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001.

As for further clarification of the border between Kazakhstan and China, in July 1996, the point of interception of their borders, the Khan-Tengri Peak, was defined on the basis of an agreement between China and Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan de facto joined this document and on 24 September, 1997 signed an Additional Agreement on the Kazakhstan-Chinese Border, on the basis of which a section of border between the two countries of approximately 12 km in length was defined. But this was not the end of the matter. Beijing began reminding Astana with increasing frequency about two disputed sections in the region of the Chogan-Obo and Baimurza mountain passes, as well as near the Sarychildy River. As a result, on 4 July, 1998, still one more Additional Agreement on the Border was signed, according to which Kazakhstan retained 537 sq. km, and China received 407 sq. km of the disputed territory. According to some estimates, China received 530 sq. km.13

As we can see, this problem was resolved one-sidedly: not one iota of Chinese land was touched, and we can still only guess at how China managed to obtain such a sweeping gesture from Kazakhstan. It is difficult to call this transfer of disputed territory an achievement of Kazakhstan diplomacy. Whatever the case, after this act, the sides stepped up demarcation, which they planned to complete in the near future.

Problems of Using Transborder Rivers

No less urgent for Kazakhstan than delimitation of the state border is the problem surrounding use of the water, biological, and communication resources of transborder rivers, lakes, and other reservoirs. Here the republic has to deal with the interests of China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

In the case of China, this problem is mainly related to the Irtysh (on Chinese territory, this river is called Cherny Irtysh). It became particularly aggravated in the fall of 1998 when the authorities of the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of the PRC began accelerated construction of the Cherny Irtysh-Karamai Canal. It is obvious that it is viewed as a significant element of Beijings plans to assimilate the western part of the PRC, including the XUAR. These regions are important for China, not only in the geopolitical, but also in the economic respect. Primarily, there are deposits of oil here which, in light of its overall shortage in the country, are of immense importance. Two important factors, internal (the increase in separatism among the Uighurs and other non-indigenous peoples) and external (proximity to war-torn Afghanistan), are forcing the PRC authorities to keep the situation under constant control. In order to do this, Beijing is increasing the number of army units here, suppressing any manifestations of national self-determination among non-Chinese residents, and actively settling the XUAR with ethnic Chinese.

But this resolution of Chinas purely domestic affairs is causing problems for its neighbors. As the Chinese side stated, in order to supply the region with water, which suffers a constant shortage, it intends to take more than 450 million cubic meters of water from the Irtysh every year, and over time increase this amount to 1.5 billion cubic meters.14 There are plans to do the same thing in the Ili River. This statement could not help but worry Astana. According to experts, realization of Beijings intentions will lead to a significant violation of the existing water supply conditions and will deal a severe blow to the industry and agriculture of Kazakhstans northeastern and central regions. But most important, the environmental situation could greatly deteriorate in the area of Balkhash and Zaisan lakes, which could create a tragic situation similar to the one that developed around the Aral Sea.

All of this has shifted the problem from the economic to the political level. In so doing, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev turned personally to PRC President Jiang Zeming with a proposal to begin negotiations on transborder rivers. Between 1999 and the first half of 2001, four rounds of meetings were held at the expert consultation level, which did not yield any tangible results. The participants succeeded only in drawing up a specific list of 23 border rivers and reaching several technical agreements,15 whereby the negotiations did not go very smoothly.

First, this was due to the different evaluations and approaches of the expert groups. For example, whereas the Chinese believe that the total run-off of the Irtysh River amounts to 12 billion cubic meters a year, the Kazakhstan side evaluates it at 9 billion.16 Second, Beijing refused to join the International Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, thus making it impossible to resolve this question within the framework of international law. Third, it is continuing to insist that negotiations on transborder rivers be held on a bilateral basis, without involving third countries. Astana, on the other hand, is in favor to including Moscow and Bishkek in the resolution of the problems. If China is going to take water from the Irtysh in the amount it declares, Russia could encounter violations of the water use procedure and environmental balance in the Omsk Region. However, for unknown reasons, Russia is not showing any interest in participating in the resolution of this problem. Bishkek, on the other hand, although it does not face such problems, could put the relevant pressure on the PRC, since the sources of several Chinese rivers are located in Kyrgyzstan.

On 17 August, 2001, the fifth round of Kazakhstan-Chinese negotiations was held in Almaty, during which significant improvements were in the offing. In particular, the sides approved and initialed the draft of an Agreement on Cooperation in the Joint Use and Protection of Transborder Rivers.17 All the same, resolution of the question on use of the water in transborder rivers has become noticeably dragged out, which is due not only to the PRCs approach to the problems of supplying water to its western regions. It is obvious that China is using the transborder river factor to put constant pressure on Kazakhstan, wishing to retain it in the sphere of its political-economic interests, right down to recognizing its relations with the PRC as a priority of its foreign policy. China is doing everything to prevent Moscow becoming involved in the negotiations between Beijing and Astana.

Disputes and conflict situations with respect to the use of water in transborder rivers are also observed in the relations between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and to some extent Uzbekistan. The problem is that there is essentially no regular water supply system to Kazakhstan, or more precisely, to its southern agricultural regions, which water reaches by means of the Naryn-Syrdaria Cascade route. Due to natural and geographic factors, Kyrgyzstan has a monopoly on the water resources here, whereby it supplies water to neighboring states, including to Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan get a significant portion of the water, although compared with Kyrgyzstan, they do not always have enough. According to some evaluations, 10.48 cubic km of water reach Uzbekistan via the above-mentioned cascade, 10.01 go to Kazakhstan, 1.81 to Tajikistan, and 0.39 cubic km to Kyrgyzstan.18 But the first two republics do not always receive it even in this amount.

It should be noted that under the integrated national economic complex created in the Soviet Union, such a problem would not have existed. The disproportion indicated above in supplying water to Central Asian Union republics, although it arose for natural reasons, did not create the acute problems that have appeared today. First, water was distributed in a centralized way. And if some republics did not have enough, the Center would take the surplus from other republics, whereby, as a rule, without noticeable detriment to them, and give it to those in need. In addition, there was an overall irrigation plan for all the republics. Second, a great deal of attention was paid to constantly improving the regional water supply system. In so doing, support of the development of the cotton industry in Uzbekistan and farming in Kazakhstan was of particular significance.

But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a host of political and economic problems developed among the newly independent states of Central Asia, which at times brought their relations to the brink of confrontation. During this time, numerous territorial, customs, visa, transportation, energy, and other claims against each other have arisen. Nor has the system of inter-republic water use been left untouched.

The root of the water problem lies in the fact that in order to produce the extra electricity it needs during the winter, Kyrgyzstan dumps water on the Toktogul hydroelectric power plant since the Bishkek heat and electric power plant does not produce sufficient electricity. First, this leads to a decrease in water supplies in the reservoir which are needed in the summer to irrigate the farm land in neighboring countries. Second, the influx of water into the Shardarinsk reservoir dramatically increases, which does not have enough room for it. As a result, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are forced to dump this water, which in addition to everything else floods some of their territory.19

Still another important aspect should be noted. In order to maintain normal operation of the Toktogul hydroelectric power plant, Kazakhstan, on the basis of corresponding intergovernmental agreements, is supposed to deliver coal to the Bishkek heat and electric power plant, and Uzbekistan supply Kyrgyzstan with gas. This has created a situation of mutual dependence among the republics and become a kind of stimulus for serious investigations among them. In particular, in 2000, Tashkent frequently deprived Kyrgyzstan of gas because Bishkek did not fulfill its debt obligations. There is even information that this gas pressure was accompanied by a demonstration of military force. Tashkent deployed paratroop subdivisions close to the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, not far from Toktogul, which conducted maneuvers there.20

But whereas Uzbekistan, which is distinguished by a tough foreign policy and has a wide range of means for putting pressure on its neighbors, can more or less come to terms with Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, despite the very close relations between Astana and Bishkek, does not yet have the luxury of acting this way. Moreover, significant disagreements have arisen between them more than once. For example, in February 1999, Kazakhstan instituted a special customs fee on several goods from Kyrgyzstan, which amounted to 200%, and in August 2000, Bishkek accused Astana of violating an agreement on water and energy resources. This accusation was based on the fact that Kyrgyzstan received only 134,000 tons of Karaganda coal instead of 362,000 tons, and by way of response threatened to reduce the supply of water.21

Taking advantage of its water monopoly, Bishkek essentially forced Astana to buy its surplus electricity produced in the summer during the dumping of water. This is very disadvantageous for Kazakhstan, since it has to pay more for the electricity delivered from Kyrgyzstan than if its main consumer, the Kazakhstan Company for Electricity Network Control (KEGOK), had bought energy from the Ekibastuz state regional hydropower station.22 But most important, Kazakhstan does not really need electricity in the summer, at least not its import from neighboring countries.

The situation is also exacerbated by the fact that water comes to Kazakhstan by transit through Uzbekistan, relations with which also leave much to be desired. According to a corresponding intergovernmental agreement, both states are obliged to buy surplus electricity from Kyrgyzstan in equal amounts. But due to its financial and technical difficulties, Astana purchases less than Tashkent. To compensate for this, Uzbekistan takes the water allotted to Kazakhstan.23

All of this has led and is leading to serious problems in agriculture in the southern regions of our republic, which are experiencing a shortage of irrigation water. In particular, this is causing a reduction in the planting area and a fall in cotton and grain harvests. But the most urgent aspect of this problem is that in May 2001, the Kyrgyzstan parliament adopted a Law on the Interstate Use of Water Facilities, Water Resources, and Hydraulic Engineering Structures of the Kyrgyz Republic, which envisages that water going from Kyrgyz reservoirs to neighboring countries must be paid for.24 The Kazakhstan leadership had a negative reaction to this law.

On the whole, the water problem in Central Asia is very difficult to resolve for the following reasons. Primarily, the norms of international law are essentially not in effect here, including the convention on international rivers, lakes, and so on. The countries of the region prefer bilateral and multilateral agreements. But even these agreements are not observed, which is leading to numerous interstate disputes and conflicts. In addition, much depends on the ambitions and moods of the leaders of the Central Asian states, who do not always want to give up their principles. Thus, today, water is a significant bone of contention, which is creating and aggravating a conflict situation in the region.

* * *

The facts presented above confirm once more that Kazakhstan has serious problems in maintaining its sovereignty over certain land border, water border, and transborder areas. Although the republics leadership is exerting all the necessary effort to resolve these problems, its indecisiveness and the countrys so-called multifaceted foreign policy, which is leading to wavering and inconsistency, are doing nothing to promote a rapid and favorable solution to the situation. Thus, the resolution of these problems is rather tedious and must negotiate no few stumbling blocks along its way.


1 See: B. Turarbekov, Delimitatsia granitsy kak ona est, Kontinent, No. 22, 15-29 November, 2000, p. 16.

2 See: Zh. Amanzholov, SNG i mezhdunarodno-pravovye problemy statusa gosudarstvennykh granits, Saiasat, No. 1, 2000, pp. 11-12.

3 See: Ie. Idrissov, Pogranichnye problemy: nuzhny ne emotsii, a obektivnost, Kazakhstanskaia pravda, No. 252, 29 October, 2001, p. 3.

4 See: A. Serenko, Eshche odna zona riska. Na rossiisko-kazakhstanskoi granitse Volgogradskoi oblasti slozhilas chrezvychainaia situatsia, Regiony NG, 11 April, 2000.

5 See: M.K. Kozybaev, I.M. Kozybaev, Istoria Kazakhstana (a textbook for 10th grade pupils in Russian schools), Alma-Ata, 1992, pp. 92-93.

6 See: Ia. Razumov, Vopros o delimitatsii kazakhsko-kyrgyzskoi granitsy mozhet byt reshen uzhe v tekyshchem godu, Panorama, No. 16, 27 April, 2001, p. 5.

7 See: B. Sultanov, Gosudarstvennye granitsy i problemy bezopasnosti v Tsentralnoi Azii, in: Bolevye tochki Tsentralnoi Azii i puti ikh neitralizatsii, ed. by D. Satpaev, Almaty, 2001, p. 15.

8 See: V. Sergienko, Na granitse tuchi xodiat khmuro, Kontinent, No. 4, 23 February-7 March, 2000, p. 5.

9 See: A. Goncharov, Na iuge Kazakhstana proizoshel ocherednoi konflikt mestnykh zhitelei s uzbekskimi tamozhennikami, Panorama, No. 40, 13 October, 2000.

10 See: M.K. Kozybaev, I.M. Kozybaev, op. cit., p. 93; V. Khliupin, Sredniaia Azia: Geopolitika iuzhnoi ugrozy bezopasnosti Rossii, Moscow, 1998, p. 61.

11 See: Ie. Idrissov, op. cit.

12 See: K. Syroezhkin, My obrecheny na sosedstvo, Kontinent, No. 21, 1-24 November, 2000, pp. 24-25.

13 See: V. Khliupin, Geopoliticheskiy treugolnik. Kazakhstan-Kitai-Rossia. Proshloe i nastoiashchee progranichnoi problemy, International Eurasian Institute of Economic and Political Research, Washington, 1999, pp. 205-209.

14 See: B. Temirbolat, Mezhdu Kazakhstanom i Kitaem mozhet nachatsia konflikt iz-za vody, Tsentralnaia Azia: politika i ekonomika, No. 1, October 2000, p. 41.

15 See: Iu. Kirinitsianov, Mesto vstrechikontinentalny most (interview with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to China K. Sultanov), Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 1, 11 January, 2001, p. 9.

16 Ibidem.

17 See: Panorama, No. 34, 7 September, 2001, p. 5.

18 See: Dilemma: voda ili svet, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 7, 29 June, 2000, p. 7.

19 See: Kaplia kamen tochit, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 9, 13 July, 2000, p. 3.

20 See: A. Grozin, Griadet voina ketmenei, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 9, 13 July, 2000, p. 6.

21 See: M. Adilov, Na iuge snova ne budet vody, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 7, 22 February, 2001, p. 5.

22 See: N. Kenzheev, Troika s minusom ili dvoika s plyusom, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 13, 17 August, 2000, p. 5.

23 See: O. Makushina, Zh. Kashkeeva, Techenie transgranichnykh problem na fone Kazakhstanskikh stepei, Delovoe obozrenie Respublika, No. 9, 8 March, 2001, p. 5.

24 See: Water is a commodity, it should be sold, stated the Kyrgyz ambassador to Kazakhstan. 15 October, 2000 [www.eurasia.org.ru/cgi-eurasia/r-test.pl?ka_press].


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