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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: 256 - (23/04/02)
The Tajiks took a fateful step in allowing the Americans in to fight terrorism. The ethnic Tajiks in the Northern Alliance have prevailed and three of the top
ministers in the new Afghan government are Tajik.
The government in Dushanbe is itself involved in a complex truce with its own Islamicist opposition. The regime is an old-fashioned communist one.
US now an ally
This has not stopped Washington from recognising it as an important ally in the struggle against terrorism. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations with the US, the Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov exchanged letters with George Bush. They congratulated each other on
improved ties. A new Tajik embassy is to be set up in Washington and a new US one in Dushanbe. The symbolism is evident.
Having the US as an ally should change things a great deal for the Tajiks. But they are keeping up the old ties with the Russians, who provide basic defence.
Some 20,000 Russian troops patrol the borders. The accord, under which they do so, dating from April 1999has been renewed.
Foreign sponsors needed
What Tajikistan needs in addition is the sponsorship of its economic development such as Germany is offering Kyrgyzstan next door. There has been a 70% jump
in foreign investment. But more is needed than that. The sums involved are not so impressive. Foreign investment was US$49m in 2001, no very big figure.
Some 43% of this came from the UK, in the shape of several jvs.
The real need is for a more 'hands-on' approach by a major country like Germany, prepared to extend technical and institutional support. Japan has expressed
interest in Tajikistan and could be the vital catalyst here.
An alternative is France; Chirac and Rakhmonov have been in communication recently and the French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrin, visited Dushanbe. But their
cooperation is geopolitical, rather then economic, French troops being disposed there. But at least Tajikistan, which reported 8.2% growth in 2002, is now on
IMF group to review Tajik debt write-off potential
A possible write-off of part of Tajikistan's debt and those of another four CIS countries will be considered at a meeting of the IMF Interim Committee in Washington in mid-April, the Tajik daily Asia-Plus has reported.
The British Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, had raised this idea formerly at a two-day seminar on poverty alleviation, sustainable growth and foreign debts in the poorest CIS countries, which was held in London last February and attended by all CIS countries as well as experts from the World Bank, the IMF, the EBRD and the Asian Development Bank. Tajik Minister of State Revenues and Tax collections, Ghulomjon Boboyev, who also attended the London seminar, told Asia-Plus that international financial institutions had called on donor-countries to support regional co-operation in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
"The international community decided to look differently at problems of countries with a transitional economy and to alleviate their burden of debt," the minister was quoted as saying by the same local daily. He emphasised that a possible write-off of debts was only a proposal that would be considered in detail at a meeting of the IMF Interim Committee in Washington. Tajik Deputy Finance Minister, Moshgul Hasanov, who deals with the country's foreign debts, confirmed in a telephone conversation with an Asia-Plus correspondent that the possible restructuring of Tajik debts was currently being studied and it would be agreed with the sides involved, particularly with Russia, which is Tajikistan's largest creditor at the moment.
According to statements made by an IMF representative in Tajikistan during his interview with the local daily, 40 per cent of Tajikistan's state debts were so-called multilateral credits, including those from the World Bank and the IMF, and they were not subject to restructuring.
The latest data, in accordance with an IMF report for 2002, indicated that Tajikistan's foreign debt amounts to over US$1.2bn with US$897m representing the nation's state debt.
Further figures show that the country owes US$72m to the European Union, US$113m to the IMF and US$153m to the World Bank. Liabilities on commercial grants guaranteed by the Tajik government currently total US$40m.
Despite a considerable amount of debts accumulated, the Tajik government is not going to discontinue the practice of foreign borrowing, and is planning to borrow another US$88m.
A draft state foreign-borrowing programme for 2002 was approved at a session of the Assembly of Representatives last February which a member of the Assembly of Representatives' committee for the economy, budget, finance and taxes said would be initially channelled into restoring communications, the power-engineering sector, healthcare and education.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Russo-Tajik relations call for intensification
"Expansion and strengthening of ties with Russia is one of the top priorities of the foreign policy of Tajikistan," Tajik Prime Minister, Oqil Oqilov, said at
the inauguration of the sixth session of the joint Tajik-Russian commission on trade and economic cooperation in Dushanbe, New Europe reported.
Speaking at the meeting Co-chairman of the Commission and Russian Minister of Emergencies, Sergey Shoigu, noted that special attention had to be paid to
practicable projects of economic cooperation between the two countries. Shoigu told the Russian press that power engineering, in particular taking into
account the latest developments in Afghanistan, mining and processing industry, especially in the sphere of non-ferrous metallurgy, would the main priorities
of bilateral economic cooperation between Tajikistan and Russia. "We have good prospects for that," the Russian minister said adding that the fact that trade
between Russia and Tajikistan dwindled about 33.5 per cent to US$198m last year as compared to 2000 scarcely met the level of cooperation between the two
Japanese fund through ADB, bank maintains support
The Japanese fund for the reduction of poverty has given Tajikistan a grant of US$2.9m through the Asian Development Bank. The money will be sent to rural
areas to meet the needs of local farms by increasing their production and boosting their revenues.
An agreement on the grant was signed by the Tajik government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Dushanbe recently, ITAR-TASS News Agency reported. The
implementation of the three-year project will begin in the near future. A consultative council will be created to co-ordinate the work and will be headed by
a Tajik vice premier.
The bank's Vice President, Joseph Eichenberg, stated that ADB has been issuing US$40m to Tajikistan annually since 1998 and would continue to do so in the
future. Speaking after a meeting with Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov, he said that neither US$40m or even US$400m would solve all of the republic's
problems. Consequently, he stated, the main task facing the bank was to determine possibilities to attract other investors, and find sources of internal
In his words, Tajikistan has great potential of natural and human resources, and particularly in the energy sector. In this connection, the bank plans to
assess its possibilities and map out the amount of necessary financing. The bank plans to start implementing an agriculture rehabilitation project in
Tajikistan this year.
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