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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: 260 - (29/08/02)
Tajikistan is on the map at last, the front line state in the unfolding Afghan drama. The US and the West generally are not going to walk
away from the daunting problems of nation-building in Central Asia.
The US, indeed, is carving out a new sphere of influence here. It now has military facilities in Tajikistan and there is an excellent new understanding with
Washington, despite its 20,000 Russian border guards and old ties with Moscow.
Swiss banker comes to town
Nothing could symbolise better the new place that Tajikistan holds in Western sights than the recent visit of Swiss National Bank Chairman Jena-Pierre Roth,
to Dushanbe (and Bishkek) with the aim of boosting ties, especially in the banking sector, with both countries.
Roth discussed financial support of investment projects in, and technical aid to, the country with President Emomali Rakhmonov, who welcomed the bank's
intention to increase Tajik-Swiss financial and economic cooperation. The president shows strong intentions of encouraging banking ties with the Swiss
"The president emphasised that Tajikistan intends to stay firmly on the course of carrying out an economic programme based on market principles and needs aid
from international and credit institutions," a spokesman said.
The benefit of Afghan pacification
The new government in Afghanistan is a triumph for the Northern Alliance, in which ethnic Tajiks are prominent. Just over one year ago they were languishing;
now they are a dominant part of the new Afghan government. With the Taleban out, the domestic rapprochement within Tajikistan is stronger. Moderate
Islamicist forces and the ex-communists are cooperating.
President Rakhmonov is an ex-communist whose support is in the northern province, Leninabad, the industrial centre of the country, and around the capital,
Dushanbe. He is a shrewd operator, less dictatorial in style than Karimov or Niyazov, his Uzbek and Turkmen counterparts, but very much in charge.
The US ally
The great thing is that the Tajiks can now balance the Americans against the Russians. They are no longer just Central Asian stooges of Moscow. Some 20,000
Russian troops will remain, but they are no longer the symbol of a subservient posture.
The US is extending US$125m, not a small sum for a small, remote state. No strings are being attached. The economy is in poor shape basically, with acute
water shortages for the last three years. But international attention is being directed Tajikistan's way. Tajikistan occupies 103rd place among the 174
countries on the Human Development Indicator.
Economy on the mend
Rakhmonov is targeting poverty reduction as a top priority. The growth rate of GDP has been highly satisfactory of late, albeit from a low base, being
8.3% in 2000, 10.2% in 2001 and a prospective 6% this year.
Also highly gratifying is that foreign direct investment shot up in 2002, to US$200m, from being negligible beforehand. Tajikistan is at last on the
Tajikistan establishes air link with Iran
An air link between Tehran and Dushanbe was opened on 9th August, the deputy director-general of Tajikistan Airlines, Mirali Yoribekov, told Interfax News
"This is the first regular international flight that an airline from a country outside the CIS will conduct to Tajikistan," Yoribekov said.
The Iranian carrier will use a Tu-154 plane on the route. The first flight was technical, and regular flights will be conducted once a week, he said.
Four Russian airlines fly regularly to Dushanbe, he said. The route destinations include Samara, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and St Petersburg.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
Russia sends humanitarian aid to Tajikistan
The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations has begun supplying humanitarian aid to Tajikistan, the deputy minister told ITAR-TASS News Agency.
According to Yuriy Brazhnikov, more than 1,000 tonnes of bread grains, about 28 tonnes of tea, 10 tonnes of canned vegetables and eight Niva cars have been
already sent to the republic by rail.
"Another 4,000 tonnes of bread grain will be additionally sent to Tajikistan shortly," the official said. He added that another train with 26 tonnes of canned
meat, vegetable oil, clothes and footwear was on its way to the former Soviet republic.
Brazhnikov also stressed that Russia continues relief supplies to Afghanistan.
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