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tajikistan

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  TAJIKISTAN

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
143,100

Population
5,751,000

Principal
ethnic groups

Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital
Dushanbe

Currency
Tajik Rouble

President
Imamali Rahmonov

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Background:
Tajikistan has experienced three changes in government and a five-year civil war since it gained independence in 1991 from the USSR. A peace agreement among rival factions was signed in 1997, and implementation reportedly completed by late 1999. Part of the agreement required the legalization of opposition political parties prior to the 1999 elections, which occurred, but such parties have made little progress in successful participation in government. Random criminal and political violence in the country remains a complication impairing Tajikistan's ability to engage internationally.

Update No: 254

The Tajiks have had a very good war. The US are now close allies, profoundly grateful for the cooperation that Dushanbe extended during the Afghan war. The ethnic Tajiks in the Northern Alliance are well represented in the new government in Kabul. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism has greatly abated. Everything is looking better than before 9:11 when Tajikistan was having to deal with the problems of severe drought, which have plagued it for three years running, however, and may yet return.
The leadership saw that the 9:11 events and their aftermath gave them a golden opportunity to escape the Russian nexus. Previously, Tajikistan was little more than a Russian colony, policed and defended by 25,000 troops under Russian officers. Now suddenly, the Western world is showing an interest, with French as well as US troops around.
The world now sees Tajikistan in a new light. Instead of being a remote backwater, it is the neighbour and networker of Afghan affairs next door. The route to Kabul lies through its capital, Dushanbe.
The Americans are not going to walk away from Central Asia as they did last time at the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghan war. At least they are going to encourage their European and Japanese allies to be involved. The country needs as many friends a sit can acquire. The poorest and most remote of the FSU states, its only chance to develop is to obtain extensive outside help and support.
President Imomali Rakhmonov visited Tashkent at the turn of the year to cement ties with its large neighbour, Uzbekistan, on which it is dependent for electricity during any drought affecting its hydro-electricity supplies. President Karinov agreed to the writing off of US$12m in debt of a total US$120m in which Tajikistan owes it largely for these energy sales.
Tajikistan's energy industry is, nevertheless, one of its promising sectors. The Japanese are interested in constructing power stations in the mountainous country, which has a great potential to expand its hydro-electricity industry. They have opened an embassy in Dushanbe. The Chinese have long contemplated tapping into Tajik energy supplies for Xinjiang, which is remote form China's own great rivers and dams.
The Iranians are improving ties with Tajikistan, a mainly Shi-ite Farsi speaking nation. Trade that amounted to only US$40m last year has a great scope for improvement. The Iranians are offering a US$25m loan to Tajikistan, whose terms might not prove acceptable, however, to the Tajiks.

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AGRICULTURE

Asian Development Bank to help develop Tajik agriculture


A mission from the Asian Development Bank [ADB] in charge of a programme for developing the Tajik agricultural sector arrived in Dushanbe on 1st February. The mission will be led by the programme's senior specialist, Ashraf Malik.
A competent source told Asia-Plus News Agency that the aim of the visit was to draw up a project to rehabilitate the Tajik agricultural sector. The ADB delegation is expected to meet Tajik government representatives to consider and discuss conditions for giving a credit and details of the project.
The source said that a memorandum of understanding was also to be signed, and it would form a basis for a credit agreement. The mission was to stay in Tajikistan until 22nd February.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS

Japan to open embassy, send experts to study power stations


Tajik President, Imomali Rakhmonov, recently met with Muneo Suzuki, the Japanese prime minister's special envoy. Suzuki told reporters that he had notified the president that a Japanese embassy will be opened in Tajikistan, New Europe has reported. Furthermore, "the Japanese side will consider sending Japanese experts to study the Roghun and Sangtuda hydro-electric power stations."
Rakhmonov thanked the Japanese government and its people for humanitarian aid and economic co-operation. An international conference at the ministerial level was scheduled to be held in Tokyo recently on the subjectof helping to rebuild Afghanistan. Tajik Foreign Minister, Talbak Nazarov attended the conference. "President Rakhmonov and I agreed that a civil society and secular, law-based and democratic state should be built in Afghanistan. He had a lots of discussions, including about projects to build hydroelectric power stations and roads," Suzuki said.

Tajik president, World Bank discuss cooperation

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and officials from the World Bank (WB) mission to Tajikistan recently discussed cooperation. The two sides looked at the results of negotiations between the WB mission and the country's government, which dealt with projects already being conducted there. Preparations were also discussed for a new three-year assistance strategy to Tajikistan, the Tajik presidential press secretary, Zafar Saidov, was quoted as saying by Interfax News Agency.
Rakhmonov favours stepping up work on WB projects already under way. Among these are modernisation of the water supply system in Dushanbe, development of financial institutions, reformation of the education system, and construction of the Pamir hydropower station. Negotiators have drawn up a schedule of working meetings between WB experts and the Tajik leadership for the near future.

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Iranian firms ready to participate in Tajik projects


Mohsen Aminzadeh, deputy Iranian foreign minister for Asia-pacific Affairs, stated in Dushanbe recently that Iranian companies are ready to become involved in various economic and development projects in Tajikistan. The minister commented on this following a meeting with the Tajik chairman for the Committee for Contracts and Trade, Hakim Soliyev, who is also the Tajik chairman of the two countries' joint economic commission. The meeting resulted in a decision that a delegation of Tajik economic officials would, in the near future, visit Iran to see through on the implementation of agreements previously reached by the two sides, IRNA News Agency has reported.
A health centre construction in Iran's Red Crescent Society in Tajikistan was also discussed during the meeting. On an Iranian US$25m loan to Tajikistan, Aminzadeh point out Tehran's readiness to see the issue through and remove whatever hindrances were delaying its release.
Additionally, the visiting Iranian official noted his satisfaction with the present level of Tehran-Dushanbe economic and trade co-operation. Stressing the need to promote regional cooperation, he emphasised that cooperation among regional states can help the establishment of security throughout the whole region.

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