kempirabad reservoir kyrgyzstan uzbekistan

Written by Haniya Ali 8:35 pm Articles, Current Affairs, International Relations, Published Content

The Kempirabad Reservoir: Achieving Depth in Kyrgyz-Uzbek Relations

A shared border has geopolitical and geoeconomic dimensions of its own, which then brings our attention to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. The land isn’t the main issue in this case—eyes are more on the Kempirabad or Andijan reservoir located where Kyrgyzstan’s Osh region and Uzbekistan’s Andijan region meet. An agreement on the joint management of the reservoir was signed just last month by both states.
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Haniya Ali is pursuing her Bachelor's in Government and Public Policy from National Defence University, Islamabad.


The Andijan reservoir, built in 1983 on the outskirts of the renowned Fergana Valley, has historically been mostly used by Uzbekistan’s agricultural sector. When the Andijan reservoir was constructed during the USSR, Uzbekistan committed to building a canal from the left bank that would have been longer than 200 kilometers, but it was never completed. As a result, the Kyrgyz side of the Burgandin massif did not develop more than 8,000 hectares of land.

The Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border is where the Kempirabad reservoir is situated. The border between the two countries runs along the line of the dam, and Kyrgyzstan owns the majority of the reservoir’s water area. These elements spark debate among Kyrgyz activists who staged demonstrations against the Kyrgyz government’s decision of transferring the full rights of the dam to Uzbekistan in return for a parcel of land.

Water-Border Agreement

Vladimir Norov, the foreign minister of Uzbekistan, met with Jeenbek Kulubaev, the foreign minister of neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, on November 3. A number of agreements were made by the two foreign ministers, but those pertaining to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border and the Kempirabad reservoir were particularly significant.

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The internal Kyrgyz opposition has turned the Kempirabad reservoir—also known as the Andijan reservoir in Uzbekistan—into a flashpoint. More than 20 members of the recently created “Kempirabad Defense Committee,” including politicians, ex-diplomats, activists, and journalists, were detained by Kyrgyz authorities on October 23 in an effort to quell opposition and rabble-rousing against the impending agreement with Uzbekistan.

The two foreign ministers’ most significant agreements relate to the joint management of water resources in the Kempirabad reservoir and the settlement of several boundary disputes between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz parliamentary committee adopted a draft of the water management agreement.

The Committee on International Affairs, Defense, Security, and Migration received the draft on the delimitation of several stretches of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek boundary earlier in October behind closed doors. Chingiz Aidarbekov, the committee’s previous chair, was replaced when he refused to endorse it.

Specifications of the Agreement

Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov claims that a final agreement has been achieved on 35 border sections, totaling 302 kilometers, that had not yet been agreed upon with neighboring Kyrgyzstan. After more than five years of discussion, an agreement was reached on this matter. The Kempirabad reservoir in Kyrgyzstan has a 4,957-acre surface area. Instead of building a reservoir, Uzbekistan suggests moving 19,000 hectares of pasture from the Oshakhur location in the Kurgantepa district (Andijan region).

A further 19 hectares of land will also be transferred from Kyrgyzstan’s jurisdiction to Uzbekistan in order to support the reservoir and dam. The reservoir may also be used for several purposes by the Kyrgyz people.

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Kyrgyzstan would grant Uzbekistan 429 hectares of land for 10 portions, which must be agreed upon during the delineation process. In exchange, a deal was negotiated to give 294 hectares of land in Uzbekistan’s valley areas to Kyrgyzstan. For a reservoir with a surface area of roughly 5,000 hectares, the Uzbek side is donating 19,000 hectares of land. Even during the USSR, Uzbekistan provided the remaining land parcels with an extent of more than 4,000 hectares as compensation (in the 1970s).

Result of the Agreement

By signing this agreement, all border-related disputes will be totally resolved, the integrity of the boundaries will be guaranteed, and potential bloody border confrontations will be avoided. In addition to negotiating a long-term regional agreement on the use of water resources, the release of stress will enable the mending of relations between kin peoples.

Additionally, a consistent water supply will be made available to around 8,000 farmers. Problems with transportation and communication will be fixed, and the duties inherited from the previous land acquisition union will be fully carried out.

Ratification of the Agreement

The Senate of the Oliy Majlis held its 35th plenary session on November 18, 2022, and senators discussed measures ratifying significant bilateral accords between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The chiefs of the pertinent ministries and departments, as well as the khokimiyats of the Andijan, Fergana, and Namangan regions, local Kenghashes of People’s Deputies, and specialists participated in the discussion.

The senators emphasized that a brand-new climate of political trust had been established in the Central Asian region as a result of the measures taken by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In the name of resolving numerous challenging issues that in the past constituted barriers to the mutual rapprochement of the countries of the region, a breakthrough has been made.

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The senators emphasized how crucial it was for state border conflicts to be resolved if the nation is to maintain its security. Kyrgyzstan’s Jogorku Kenesh also ratified the agreement on November 17, 2022. As a result, there are solid assurances that thousands of farms will have an uninterrupted supply of water tanks for the shared use of the Andijan or Kempirabad reservoir.

Additionally, it was mentioned that the acceptance of these agreements would facilitate the sensible and advantageous use of transboundary water resources and would raise bilateral collaboration to a new standard of excellence.

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