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: 275 - (01/12/03)
Campaign against terrorism and opium forwarded
The Tajiks are in the front line against terrorism in Central Asia, right next to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) operates in the Ferghana Valley in the north, the well populated area in Central Asia divided politically between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. While Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (HTI) is showing signs of increasing militancy in the whole region, distributing pamphlets with an anti-government message in every republic.
The Islamicists almost came to power in the early1990s. But their chances of a repeat performance are lower today. The West is involved and concerned to contain the Islamicists in former Soviet republics at all costs. Tajikistan is increasingly under the wing of the US, which uses Dushanbe airfield to replenish bases in Afghanistan.
The main conduit for opium from Afghanistan lies through mountainous Tajikistan, whence it comes westwards. The opium crop this year in Afghanistan was about3,600 tonnes in an unprecedented 28 out of 32 Afghan provinces. The crop earned the farmers in Afghanistan and the traffickers, often Tajiks, some $3bn in 2003 so far.
The two issues of countering terrorism and the drug trade increasingly intermingle. Says a senior American official in Kabul to the Guardian: "We're seeing that this issue affects our counter-terrorism interests; it's become more and more clear that the principal source of funding for al-Qaida and the Taleban is Afghan drugs." But terrorists apart, it is well known that the regional warlords of the successful Northern Alliance are heavily funded by the proceeds of the poppy.
The courting of Moscow
The Russians are understandably nervous of the way that the US and France are being allowed the use of air facilities in the republic. France has had the use of the Khulab airport for its airforce squadrons since the Afghan conflict.
The Tajik government is trying to restore relations with Moscow within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States' Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). It is to finalise an agreement made in May 2003, which would grant the 201st Motorised Division based in Tajikistan the status of the 4th Russian military base.
Although this would not necessarily affect the number of Russian troops deployed in Tajikistan - currently 11,000 with an additional 8,000 to 9,000 frontier guards stationed
On the borders with Afghanistan, it is significant because it would legally give Russia a semi-permanent military base within the CSTO.
Economic future looks up
In other respects things are looking up. The Tajiks are doing rather better economically than for some time. The president of Tajikistan, Imomali Rakhmonov, has decreed measures that he believes will brighten up peoples futures, in an address on radio on November 4th. Far more Tajiks own radios than TVs so that his remarks were assured of a wide audience, but the amounts of money by which incomes are to be raised, reflects the dire poverty of this remote nation.
"With the aim of improving the population's living standards, raising the role of wages and the level of social security, I decree: First, the minimum monthly wage in all sectors of the country's economy and the minimum monthly pension to be set at seven somoni (about US$2.3) from January 1st 2004," the president was quoted assaying.
"Second, wages for posts and current base wage rates of the staff of institutions and organisations which are funded from the state budget, including wages for special military ranks, servicemen and the staff of the power-wielding agencies are to be raised by 25 percent from January 1st, 2204" Rakhmonov added. "Third, the current allowances (scholarship) for students are to be increased by 15 per cent from January 1st 2004. Fourth, the pensions of labour veterans are to be increased by 25 per cent from January 1st, 2004.
"Fifth, the average allowances to be paid for temporary disability, leaves and other cases which require the calculation of an average wage, except pensions, are to be set taking into account the approved rate of wages from January 1st 2004."
The state leader also noted that number six is "15 somoni (about US$5) a month is to be added to the pension of veterans and invalids of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and the spouses of the servicemen who died in that war, in lieu of certain communal services' subsidies."
Tajikistan collects 75% of cotton harvest
Tajikistan has harvested 460,000 tonnes of raw cotton, including 47,000 tonnes of thin-fibre cotton, sources in the Agriculture Ministry told Interfax News Agency.
This means that 75% of the planned production has been fulfilled.
Tajikistan is due to harvest 610,000 tonnes of cotton this year, sources said. About 300,000 people are working to collect the harvest.
Cotton is a strategic raw material for Tajikistan. It is also a main export item, alongside aluminium.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
IMF to give Tajikistan US$21m to reduce poverty in 2004
The International Monetary Fund plans to grant Tajikistan the next tranche of a credit in a poverty reduction program amounting to US$21m in 2004, Robert Christiansen, head of an IMF mission to Tajikistan, told journalists, Interfax News Agency has reported.
The IMF mission worked in Dushanbe from October 23rd to 31st.
The IMF will pay out US$90m for the three-year program, which began in December 2002. The funds will be provided for 10 years with a grace period of 5.5 years, at 0.5% per annum. The fund already paid out $21 million as part of this program in 2003.
As part of this program the republic's government has developed a strategy for reducing poverty aimed at increasing macroeconomic stability, and reforming the banking, energy and agricultural sectors.
During its visit the IMF mission studied the implementation of the project in 2003. Christiansen said that this year the government managed to reach the growth targets set down in the strategy, but did not implement a number of steps to reform the banking and energy sectors.
He said that IMF experts also discussed with the government the problem of debt at state farms, which currently amounts to $250 million.
ADB to allocate US$100m to Tajikistan in 2004-2006
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will issue US$100 million worth of credits and financial assistance to Tajikistan in 2004-2006, the bank said in a press release in Dushanbe.
The ADB board approved the 2004-2008 strategic assistance program for the country on October 22nd. The bank drew up the loan program for 2004 - 2006 to provide aid in creating agricultural infrastructure and develop regional cooperation.
Financial aid in 2004 is expected to total US$25m, and US$10m in loans will be provided for regional projects, according to the press release.
Financing in 2005 - 2006 will total US$30m-US$35m. The exact amount will depend on the success of the project in Tajikistan and the availability of funds, according to the press release.
Asian Development Bank has been working with Tajikistan since 1998. It has provided more than US$100m in loans since then.
INVESTMENT BACKGROUND REPORTS
Our analysts and editorial staff have many years experience in analysing and reporting events in these nations. This knowledge is available in the form of geopolitical and/or economic country reports on any individual or grouping of countries. Such reports may be bespoke to the specification of clients or by access to one of our existing specialised reports.
For further information email:
Considering an investment or a trip to any newnation? First order our Investment Pack which will give you by e-mail the last three monthly newnation reports and the complete worldaudit democracy check for the low price of
US$12. The print-out would be a good companion to take with you. Having read it, you might even decide not to go!
To order please click here: