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No. 7 (165) October 2009


Meeting organized by the Ministry of internal affairs of France had gathered more than 70 participants: 15 - from Afghanistan, 3 -from India, 5 - from Iran, and 11 - from Pakistan. As to Central Asia there were representatives from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and SIC ICWC.

Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Internal Affairs, opened the meeting. He noted that during the period after the Bonn meeting and especially for last 5 years, cooperation was extended to spheres of medicine and education. If earlier the local residents were afraid of foreign physicians, but now 90% of children were vaccinated against various diseases. The aim is to give the people of Afghanistan understanding that they can live on another way.

Mr. Omar Samad, Ambassador of France in Afghanistan, has stated: "We see (especially after the speech of Obama) opportunity to arrange the clever policy regarding to Afghanistan. The Pushtun traditions aren't a base of Taliban. Taliban's sources are the aiming to despotic power and the access to "the drug money". The election showed that people want to change their choice and approaches. As a result Afghanistan can not be ignored both at the regional and global level. Among a lot of directions we are interested in integration in the transport infrastructure, water, trade, frontier issues, and especially the power engineering. We have to trust each other. Previous policy was directed to cosmetics for situation improving, when everything remains the same. Now we have to correct mistakes.”

Thierry Mariani, the representative of France in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has emphasized that the collaboration format in this case is complex enough. Our view on Central Asia as on the soviet state generates distrust. We need to connect Central Asia with Afghanistan by energy-wise civil actions. The role of Central Asian countries is very great: regarding these countries the developed countries can demonstrate that they respect religion, culture and traditions of the region as a whole. This has to be a base of collaboration without involving the third countries. Only those countries can organize the legal trade and relationships in the energy and water spheres.

Hekmat Karzai, Director, Center on Conflicts and Global Study, began his speech with proverb: "One conclusion can be obtained from the history that we don't make any conclusion from it." Afghanistan never created a real national union, governance system (army, police etc.). Afghanistan has no serious policy regarding its neighbors including Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian countries. At the same time is registered that talibans are more organized, they use weaknesses of the government and of the international organizations. Among the mistakes of the West he emphasizes the insufficient financing (25 times less against what was given to one person in Kosovo after war); lack of understanding about needs of local people, and the projects aimed to vision and benefit of foreign companies but not to them; work of international forces with commanders who supported Taliban earlier but not with people.

Gul Badshah Majid, parliamentary and leader of the Parliament Committee, also takes a view that "Government and foreign ideologists have no regional strategy and they don't understand our relations". Competition between donors, competition between provinces, terrorism and lack of agreements especially with Iraq and Pakistan impede us. Afghan government is not responsible and don't give account to its people. As a result the external and internal forces look at the afghan territory as well as the field of acting. There are a lot of speaking about talibs. What we want from them? Which talibs we want to see? Foreign countries also have to think clearly what they want from Afghanistan.

The special session of the work group was dedicated to the water relations development issues. The resumption of works on Iran-Afghan agreement 1973 on use of water resources of Gilmend river was noted as a positive instance. Delegation activity of the Gilmend regional commission was reestablished and 10 its sessions were held. The coordination and water and ecosystems management mechanism was established under GEF support; the transboundary diagnostic analysis was prepared; the special action plan was developed. Within this cooperation Iran renders very great assistance for information gathering and database creating. At the meeting of the workgroup, Khudainazar Sarmanshar, member of Afghan parliament, has stated: «We never requested water from neighbors, but they never suggested to include us to their community." He has drawn attention of participants that donors promised a lot of money for reconstruction and development of irrigation. Expectations during 3 years have brought only a very little effect.

Representatives from Australia and France told about some specific issues on possible water withdrawals increase by Afghanistan from Amudarya, Pyandj, Murgab, Gerirud (Tejen). Pier Morel, assistant of the EU permanent representative in Central Asia, had notified western countries that they have to be careful when consider issues on development of the water power engineering and water withdrawals by Afghanistan because the downstream countries now already suffer because of insufficient water supply in low-flow period that can be aggravated even more by one-side actions.

Discussion outcomes about water relations can be summarized as follows:

  • determining a procedure to involve Afghanistan into activity of regional organisations of the Aral Sea Basin is the government prerogative of 4 Central Asian countries situated in the Amudarya Basin;
  • Central Asian countries are open for information exchange. On the ICWC portal everybody can find free information on water resources and their use. From this point of view we are strongly interested in information from Afghanistan (for past and modern periods) about its surface waters, situation and development of irrigation, water withdrawals, water use, modern situation and planning concerning water management and its further development;
  • It is very important to organize consistent observations at the border gauging stations on Pyandj, Kokcha, Kunduz and Amudarya.

Among other proposals, Jean-Francois Donzier, INBO Director, had proposed to strengthen the technical and scientific information exchange with water management organisations of Afghanistan, to acquaint them with modern saving water methods, automation, reconstruction and public participation in water management including organizing their trainings.

The workgroup participants from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan suggested the same ideas concerning cooperation within river basins of Kabul, Gerirud and Murgab.

At the same time the Ministry of power engineering and water prepared the project on strategy of water sector, which was presented to the meeting participants.

Mr. Nadir Naim, the grandson of last shah of Afghanistan, had said at the end of plenary meeting: "During seven years after my return to the country, I see a very little progress. Often thinking about what must be done in the country, I came to conclusion about the following three things to be done:

  • Implementing the national unity program to strengthen the national and local administrations;
  • Developing the best past initiatives, traditions and people's education in the broad sense of the word;
  • It is needed to determine farmers' interest and possible cooperation that will urge reconstruction of our irrigation and agriculture as a whole without drugs."

The meeting generalized conclusions of workgroups on regional economical cooperation, on regional coordination on water, on transboundary coordination, and emphasized need to strengthen cooperation within Regional Economical Cooperation (RECCA) between Pakistan and Afghanistan, three-sided cooperation (Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan) along the implementation of the National development strategy (ANDS).

The most important activity spheres are as follows:

  • Afghanistan-Pakistan and Afghanistan-Turkmenistan cooperation in the energy sector;
  • development of free trade zones and free trade transit;
  • increasing effectiveness of donor's assistance.

Director of SIC ICWC, Prof. V.A.Dukhovny