As the election campaign of the President of Uzbekistan concluded, he made it a priority to foster strong and constructive relationships with the other Central Asian countries. This was confirmed by Andrey Rusakov, Director of the Center for European-Asian Studies, when he noted that the recent trilateral summit between Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan in Ashgabat demonstrated Tashkent’s political intentions.
The “zero problems with neighbors” approach has already enabled Uzbekistan to settle border disputes and demarcations through negotiations and compromise. Now, the three countries must work together to reach an agreement on water resource usage, particularly the Amudarya, and form a policy towards Afghanistan, as well as create cross-border multimodal transport corridors.
The discussion of the three countries’ positions is long overdue, as the inconsistency of actions in using the region’s water resources has already caused a significant environmental disaster in the form of the Aral Sea drying up. The current political climate and the new challenges that have arisen necessitate the formation of a unified approach in the changing realities.
Fortunately, President Mirziyoyev’s calls for dialogue have been answered by Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, who were previously more closed off. It is essential to have a joint dialogue in order to develop a shared view on Afghanistan, as well as involve Tajikistan, which requires the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of the Tajik population of the Islamic emirate.
The launching of the Kush-Tepa canal by the Taliban government may worsen the situation with the distribution of water resources in the region, as the Amudarya may lose up to 15-20 percent of its water. The concept of a “welfare state” adopted under the new version of the Constitution of Uzbekistan requires a significant increase in economic activity in the region and the creation of new value chains, so the trilateral forum also discussed the creation and operation of cross-border multimodal transport corridors with access to the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The three countries have agreed to support each other in their work within the framework of international organizations, including the UN, indicating that the trilateral forum may become permanent. Such collaborations to address common challenges are a powerful way to solve the region’s most pressing problems at the highest political level.