Regional security cooperation in Central Asia: the influence of Uzbekistan’s leader change on the Rogun Dam project



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Tartu Ülikool


In Central Asia, the past three decades have been characterised by a lack of cooperation in security matters, despite the strong incentives for states to cooperate to solve their common security issues. One of the main sources of tension is the Rogun Dam project pushed forward by Tajikistan and historically met with strong opposition from Uzbekistan. Yet, the recent power change following the assession of Mirziyoyev to the presidency has led to a political U-turn in the Uzbek foreign policy towards the dam project which cannot be explain by rational system-level theories. This thesis aims to question the supremacy of the rationalist approach and system-level theories in explaining interstate cooperation and addresses its limitation in providing comprehensive explanations in the case of Central Asia. Rather, this research seeks to provide a complementary individual-focused approach to the study of states’ relations that focuses on the influence of leadership perceptions in shaping foreign policy decisions towards security cooperation. The chosen method of analysis is the conduct of a content analysis on speeches and statements made by key actors of the two respective administrations. The thesis concludes by stating the key findings that have been established from the analysis, and are presented in two categories: cooperation-adverse and cooperation-prone perceptions. The findings confirm the existence of diverging perceptions between the two leaderships and shed light on their relation with the respective foreign policy carried by the each leadership, therefore demonstrating the value of an individual-level analysis.