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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: 264 - (01/01/03)
The Tajik republic is in a very different situation from eighteen months ago, that is before 9:11. There is no FSU state that has seen its position so dramatically changed.
Tajikistan on the map at last
There are three Central Asian states in the FSU that have lent an extraordinary helping hand to the US in its post 9:11 predicament. Uzbekistan was already cooperating on the military front against terrorism based in Central Asia, even in the later years of the Clinton Administration. As the central and most populous nation in former Soviet Central Asia, Uzbekistan was always on the map. Kyrgyzstan gave the US a splendid air base near Manas for the use of its planes, while it had long been the darling of the Western financial institutions, enchanted with the reforming zeal of President Akayev.
Only Tajikistan was out in the cold, assumed by anyone who bothered about it to be an outpost of ex-Soviet military might in the remotest area on earth. Well, 9:11 certainly changed that conception of things.
The Tajik leadership under President Rakhmanov is certainly ex-communist in coloration, its power base in the northern industrial province of Leninabad (very suitably named) being a mini-USSR to this day. But then it had little choice, being wholly dependent on 20,000 CIS, mainly Russian, border troops to keep Islamicists from Afghanistan at bay.
Civil war in 1991-94 was concluded with a power-sharing arrangement with the Islamicist opposition, uneasily kept up for seven years. But in the aftermath of 9:11, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, dominated by ethnic Tajiks, became transformed into anti-terrorist heroes in the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The assassination al-Qaeda agents of Shah Masood, the Tajik Northern Alliance warlord, on 9:9, two days before the events in the US, guaranteed his followers would be deemed among the good guys by the Americans.
Everything began to fall in place; and for the Tajik government in situ that meant a leading role in the front-line against global terrorism. They gave the US the use of military bases, hospitals and extensive intelligence information. Moscow's early objections were peremptorily brushed off. Tajikistan was no longer a stooge of anyone and was no more a remote Asian backwater.
The economy turns around
The metaphor 'backwater' is a rather unfortunate one in certain respects, because the republic for three years past before 9:11 was lacking precisely water. Successive droughts had left its agriculture in distress.
They had also left the inhabitants of Dushanbe with dirty water. Within the next few years residents of the capital city of Tajikistan will be provided with clean water. It will be provided for by a service-contract on implementation of the Dushanbe water supply system project that was signed by the World Bank, the mayor's office of Dushanbe, the Dudushanbevodokanal Unitary Enterprise and the WVV Energie AG (Hydroplan Germany) recently.
The project is designed for three years and will be aiming at the reconstruction of the vital water supply and water purifying facilities in Dushanbe. It has been approved by the leadership of the World Bank that has allocated a long-term loan of US$17m with a 30-year term of clearing off for implementation of the project. WVV Energie will implement the project.
The larger economy is also being helped by new Western interest, GDP growing by 8.9% in the first nine months of 2002. Industrial output is up 6.7% and retail trade turnover up by 19.9%. A restructuring of foreign trade is under way. Trade is shifting from being an affair of exporting mainly to the CIS countries (or former Soviet states) and importing mainly from non-CIS countries to being a more balanced affair. Indeed in 2002's first three quarters foreign trade grew by 6.8%; within this, exports grew by 10.2%, of which 72.6% was to countries outside the CIS, while imports grew by 3.6%, of which 75.6% was from CIS countries, a gratifying trend of development. Tajikistan is opening up, even in trade, to a wider world.
Tajikistan trade deficit grows
Tajikistan had a trade deficit of US$12.7m in the first 10 months of 2002, the country's State Statistics Committee announced, New Europe has reported.
Foreign trade increased by 6.8 per cent year-on-year to US$1.949bn. Exports grew 10.2 per cent to US$591.1m, of which 72.6 per cent or US$418.9m to countries from outside the CIS.
Imports were up 3.6 per cent to US$603.8m, of which 75.6 per cent or US$456.3m were from the CIS. Aluminium accounted for 55 per cent of Tajikistan's exports. In the 10 months, Tajikistan exported 250,000 tonnes of aluminium, which was 23,800 tonnes more than in the same period of 2001. Cotton-fibre exports came to 95,700 tonnes or 14.4 per cent of total exports and 80.8 per cent more than in the first 10 months of 2001.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Rahmonov holds sessions with potential Czech investors
Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov has held talks with the heads of the Entrepreneurs' Union and Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic, Czech export banks, Skoda company, machinery construction plant, Kashire, and the RDP Group. The meetings took place during the course of the President's visit to Prague to attend the recent NATO summit, New Europe has reported.
President press secretary, Zafar Saidov, told Asia-Plus News Agency that the sides discussed priorities and conditions of trade-economic cooperation between the two countries. Czech investors were reported as being keen on running economic projects in Tajikistan. The key question was the delivery of trolley buses, possible delivery of equipment for small power plants, air-navigation equipment, medicines and medical supplies and the opening of a Czech trade centre in Tajikistan.
Rahmonov briefed Czech businessmen on profitable and promising economic projects for foreign investors in his country, and expressed confidence that his meetings with senior representatives from the Czech authorities would promote expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two republics.
When visiting the Skoda car assembly plant, Rahmonov suggested opening a sale room in Dushanbe selling Skoda cars.
During his visit to Prague, the president also held talks with the chairman of the Czech Senate, Peter Pitkhart. In the course of talks the sides discussed issues related to the expansion of cooperation between the two countries.
According to Saidov, the Czech officials highly praised Tajikistan's role in the fight against international terrorism and illegal drug trafficking, as well as its contribution to political stabilisation and economic reconstruction in that country.
Japan aid for socio-economic projects in Dushanbe emerges
The grant assistance for grass roots projects of the government of Japan has awarded Tajikistan the amount of US$16,800 for the opening of a sewing training-centre, recently inaugurated in Dushanbe. Commenting on this, the Japanese embassy in Dushanbe stated that bilateral relations have started to develop on an economic basis apart from the current humanitarian one, mainly as a result of economic reforms carried out in the republic of Tajikistan. "To support unemployed and by promoting employment of them, the project of establishing the sewing training-centre has been supported," the embassy noted, the Asia Plus reported recently.
Meanwhile, another inauguration ceremony of the "Renovation of Hissar Orphange for Blind Children" was held in Hissar. This project was implemented by ORA International. Since the Japanese embassy opened in Dushanbe last January it has supported 24 grass roots projects, worth US$957,199. Asia Plus quoted the Japanese embassy as saying it is ready to continue supporting projects aimed at improving the socio-economic development of the country.
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