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: 270 - (26/06/03)
The Tajik president, Imamali Rahmonov, is ruling a country reeling from an economic disaster. His country was already the poorest republic of the USSR in 1991. And then it became independent, which meant its GDP fell to 57% of its pre-independence level within a decade.
The US on line
The events of 9:11 proved a godsend to Tajikistan. From being a backwater it became a frontline state - next to al-Qaeda-infested Afghanistan. It provided the US with the facilities it needed - air bases, military camps and depots for all sorts of arms.
With the US victorious it might seem to have outlived its usefulness. But that is not so. It remains the core state of the US's anti-terrorism struggle for Central Asia.
For peculiar reasons the Tajiks have less resentment at rule from Moscow than the Uzbeks. The Tajik centres of Samarkand and Bukhara were great centres of Islamic art and learning in the Middle Ages. By the 16th century, however, the Uzbeks had assumed an ascendancy over the whole region, submitting it only to the Russians in the nineteenth century.
Now a power even further away is uppermost in their councils - the United States. That suits the Tajiks down to the ground.
Local autonomy is all
The US is not going to be a dominant force like the Uzbek Khans or the Russian Tsars or commissars. On the contrary they will keep their distance.
Once independent in 1991, the local forces became insurgent Islamicism, nationalism and democracy. A massive civil war broke out, ended only in 1994, when nationalism won over Islamicism.
The Islamicist enemy used to be in Afghanistan. Now the US has neutralised that. What remains is to pacify the country, which Rahmonov is determined to do.
Tajikistan launches efforts to get rid of remaining mines
Tajikistan has worked out a government programme worth some US$13m for clearing its territory of mines, Interfax News Agency has reported quoting the press secretary of the Tajik Defence Ministry, Lt. Col. Zorobiddin Sirodzhev.
"Since the 1993-98 civil war in Tajikistan, a lot of minefields have remained in the country. There is a particularly large amount of them near the Tajik-Uzbek border. These mines pose a huge danger to the population. In this connection, a state mine-clearing programme has been drafted and needs to be cleared with the government. Completely getting rid of the mine danger will cost about US$13m," Sirodzhev said.
Specialists from the Tajik Defence Ministry's engineering troops had disarmed over 11,000 personnel and antitank mines by the beginning of 2003, he said. "By expert estimation, from 15,000 to 18,000 mines have still not been neutralised. These are mainly MON-50 and OZM-72 andPMN-1 personnel mines and TM-62 andTM-57 antitank mines," Sirodzhev said. The country is counting on assistance from foreign countries to clear its territory of mines, he said. "In particular, the chief of the OSCE mission in Tajikistan promised to allocate US$200,000 to mark minefields," the spokesman said.
Tajik foreign trade deficit falls 90% to US$4.5m
Tajikistan recorded a foreign trade deficit of US$4.5m in the first four months of 2003, down 90% from the same period last year, according to figures published by the Tajik State Statistics committee.
The state's foreign trade turnover totalled US$500.5m, down 8% in the four-month period. Exports shrank by 5.4% to US$247.9m, while imports fell by 10.5% to US$252.6m.
Foreign trade turnover with CIS member states eased by about a quarter, but surged 10.8% with other countries. The state's foreign trade turnover with CIS member states reached US$229.2m, or 45.8% of overall foreign trade. The figure totalled US$271.3m, or 54.2%, with other countries.
Primary export commodities were aluminium, cotton fibre and electric power. Electric power import makes up 10.1% of all local imports and natural gas import at 4.6%.
In another development, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10.2% year-on-year in the first four months of this year to 1.06bn somonis, the statistics committee said. Industrial output totalled one billion somonis, up 12.6%.
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