Monday, August 15, 2022

Turkey’s Increasing Use of Water from Kura and Araks Rivers Harming Downstream Countries in the Caucasus and Iran, Russian Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – Both to develop the eastern portion of Turkey and to promote Turkish foreign policy goals in the Middle East, Ankara has been taking increasing amounts of water from the Kura and Araks rivers and thereby reducing the amount of water available to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

            (Both rivers rise in Turkey. The Kura flows through Georgia, including that country’s capital city of Tbilisi, while the Araks flows along the Armenian-Turkish border and between Azerbaijan’s Nakhichivan, Armenia’s Syunik Oblast and Azerbaijan proper on the one side and Iran, on the other, before joining the Kura and emptying into the Caspian Sea.)

            Russian analyst Leonid Alekseyev says Turkey’s withdrawal of water from these rivers and the blocking of their flow are inflicting serious environmental and economic harm on the downstream countries and making any cooperation among them far more difficult (

            In an article for the Rhythm of Eurasia portal, he details these consequences, an indication that the problems arising from water use along these two transborder rivers are intensifying and also that Moscow apparently is planning to play them up in order to block any cooperation among these countries or at least any expansion in Turkish influence there.

            Whether such Russian efforts will prompt Ankara to enter into talks is far from clear given that Turkey was sharply criticized by a UN commission more than a decade ago for failing to agree even on common standards of measurement so that the countries along the routes of these two rivers could talk about them.

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