Robert Blake: ‘We understand the importance of energy
security for Tajikistan’
13, 2010, Umed Babakhanov
On Friday February
12, the Tajikistan-United States political consultations ended in Washington.
Mr. Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and
Central Asian Affairs, gave an exclusive interview to
Asia-Plus the day before the final session.
from December last year the American administration started political
consultations with the countries of Central
Asia. Washington has
been visited already by the Foreign Ministers of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Tajik official delegation has just arrived. What issues are
discussed at these meetings? Do they mean the beginning of a new phase in
the U.S. policy in the region?
A. Once the
weather cooperates the U.S. and Tajik Governments will sit down to discuss their entire
bilateral relationship. This includes border security, anti-terrorism efforts,
the Northern Distribution Network, human rights, business and investment
climate, development issues, agricultural reform, food security, fiscal
transparency, and energy . These meetings are an
opportunity to seek progress on the full range of matters on our agenda and
identify more areas of cooperation for both sides in our relationship.
Q. Last year
Northern Distribution Network (NDN) has become very important and it is
increasingly used by the Pentagon and the allies to deliver non-military goods
to Afghanistan. However, political and economic contradictions between the Central
Asian countries, which sometimes become quite serious, could disrupt the
stability of supply. In particular, I can mention the opposite approach of Dushanbe and Tashkent to the
issue of building the region's largest Hydro Power Station Rogun.
What is the Washington's position on Rogun?
A. We understand
the importance of energy security for Tajikistan and support the government’s efforts to make sure its citizens,
enterprises, and institutions have access to adequate and reliable power. We
encourage Tajikistan to take into consideration the views of their neighbors when
pursuing hydropower development plans – like Roghun.
In addition to Roghun, we encourage Tajikistan to consider developing small hydropower stations.
Q. Recently, Tajikistan, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs in London and Washington made a
number of proposals to enhance its role in restoring peace in Afghanistan. How do you evaluate these initiatives, how are they
A. The United States appreciates Tajikistan’s role in helping to stabilize Afghanistan. Our discussions with Tajik authorities include security
cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan, which shares a long border with Tajikistan.
Tajikistan has more than 1 thousand kilometers of common borders with Afghanistan and the intensification of military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the strengthening ISAF troops many people fear that the
Taliban could cross the river Panj, and come to the
Tajik territory. In this case, fighting spread to Tajikistan. How realistic do you think, such a scenario?
A. To help Tajikistan prepare for any such contingencies, the U.S. and
Tajikistan Governments share a positive working relationship in the area of
border security. In our border-related program work in Tajikistan, we have tried to bring a broad array of U.S.
interagency players together – “a whole of government” response.
bureaus in the State Department and Department of Defense, we are currently
working with the Tajikistan counterparts to improve border post infrastructure, build or
modernize port-of-entry, and offer many different training programs – all with
the objective of helping Tajikistan improve its effectiveness at preventing transnational threats from
crossing into Tajikistan.