Uzbekistan Trying To Raise Rent On German Military Base?
Uzbekistan is asking Germany for an increase in rent paid for the use of the air base at Termez, on the Afghanistan border, which the Germans have operated since 2002, according to local media reports. Reports also suggest that Germany is considering helping Uzbekistan expand the airport at Termez.
"Since November of last year there have been negotiations between Tashkent and Berlin on reexamining the status of the agreement on Germany's use of the transit hub at the Termez airport," according to a piece on CentrAsia.ru, widely republished in the Uzbekistani media. "In particular, according to informed experts, the Uzbek side, with the aim of maintaining the infrastructure of this important military-strategic object in good condition, proposes increasing the rent paid for Germany's use of the Termez airport."
Germany has been paying between 10 and 15 million Euros per year for the use of the base; it's not clear what Tashkent may be asking now.
The piece concludes: "Continuing to prolong the resolution of the 'Termez question,' Germany risks not only being left with nothing, but also ruining its relations with Uzbekistan, the key government of Central Asia playing an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. It seems the Germans don't realize that the money they are trying to save on the rent paid for the use of the Termez airport is not worth the strategic importance that this object has for Germany."
Another report, on 12news.uz, said that Germany is looking into participating in the expansion of the Termez airport, which Uzbekistan is planning to carry out by 2016 with the aim of turning it into an international logistics center (presumably for civilian use).
Both the German and Uzbekistan governments have been extremely quiet about their arrangements vis-a-vis Termez, and neither side has commented publicly on this issue. And it should be noted that the sourcing of all of these reports is very imprecise, though given how widely they've been reproduced in the tightly censored Uzbekistan media, it's safe to assume the reports have official government sanction.
Germany's top diplomat dealing with Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Cord Maier-Klodt, visited Tashkent late last month, and in his remarks carried by the official Uzbekistan news agency Jahon he did allude to prolonging the agreement for Termez. "Security is an important part of our cooperation," he said. "We are grateful to our Uzbek partners for their long and reliable cooperation over the past 12 years. We want to continue that in the future."