Mirziyoev, Japarov Sign Laws on Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border, Disputed Water Reservoir
(RFE.RL) The Uzbek and Kyrgyz presidents have signed into law several documents on the delimitation of their border, including an agreement to jointly managing the Kempir-Abad water reservoir, a hot-button issue between the two Central Asian nations.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev on November 30 put his signature on the documents after his Kyrgyz counterpart, Sadyr Japarov, had done the same.
The signatures were the final step in the process after lawmakers from the two Central Asian nations approved the documents earlier this month.
The Kempir-Abad reservoir, known in Uzbekistan as the Andijon reservoir, was built in 1983. It is located in the fertile Ferghana Valley and is a vital regional water source. Uzbekistan, whose population of 35 million is five times larger than that of Kyrgyzstan, uses most of the water from the area.
Many Kyrgyz civil activists, opposition politicians, and residents living close to the dam have opposed the deal, saying Uzbekistan should continue to be allowed to use the water, but the reservoir's land should remain within Kyrgyzstan.
Last month, more than 20 members of a group called the Kempir-Abad Defense Committee were arrested in Bishkek and detained for two months after they openly challenged the deal. They were charged with planning riots over the border deal, which is more than three decades in the making.
The former Kyrgyz ambassador to Malaysia, Azimbek Beknazarov, former lawmaker Asia Sasykbaeva, well-known politicians Kanat Isaev, Jenis Moldokmatov, and Ravshan Jeenbekov, and other noted public figures and human rights activists are among the committee members jailed.
Japarov and his allies claim the deal benefits Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz farmers will still have access to the reservoir.
The two countries share a border more than 1,300 kilometers long.