Books on Tajikistan
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: 282 - (30/06/04)
An important meeting took place on June 4th between the presidents of Russia and Tajikistan. The result is a new twist in the Central Asian 'Great Game' being played between Russia and the US.
Russia gets its way
It looks as if US influence is waning. Tajik president, Immomali Rahkmonov, is disenchanted with US policy in Central Asia. The US has not stabilised Afghanistan, nor has it sent the aid to Tajikistan it promised for its steadfast support against the Taliban in the post-9:11 war against terrorism. Washington is obviously distracted by what is going on in Iraq.
In exchange for Russia's decision to write off $300m in debt, Tajikistan gave Russia the rights to Nurek space-surveillance station, one of the most advanced in the former Soviet bloc.
Putin may have used the threat of returning Tajiks in Russia back home, a real concern for Rahkmonov since many Tajiks are dependent on remittances from Russia to survive. The Russians could make a lot of trouble ahead of parliamentary elections in 2005 and a presidential one in 2006.
Rahkmonov has learnt his lesson. The Americans are a glamorous, but remote, alternative, yet feckless and fickle. The Russians are the big boys on the block!
New electoral rules
The country's parliament has approved changes to the election code. The amendments to the code, valid for five years, will be key in shaping the outcome of parliamentary elections in February 2005 and presidential elections in 2006. The new changes contain measures to prevent government interference in elections and ban the presence of armed supporters at polling places.
However, some opposition parties said that the law still had shortcomings, the Tajik Asia-Plus news agency reported. "We are in particular not happy with the fact that representatives of political parties will not be allowed into polling stations," the leader of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Mahmadruzi Iskandarov, said. The deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Shokirjon Hakimov, noted that their party was also unhappy with the fact that such important issues as specifying the status of independent local observers and their rights and commitments were also ignored.
The World Bank in munificent mood
The World Bank has approved $19.79 million worth of assistance for community agriculture and watershed management development in Tajikistan. The project will help rural communities raise agricultural productivity and prime the rural economy, while curtailing degradation of fragile areas, the bank said.
The project is set to protect globally significant mountain ecosystems by mainstreaming sustainable land use and biodiversity conservation within agricultural and rural investment decisions.
Urumqi-Dunshabe route begins
A new air route was launched recently, linking Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang in northwest China, with the Tajik capital Dushanbe to serve the growing number of Tajik tourists to China. The weekly flight, available every Monday, is operated by the Xinjiang company of China's Southern Airlines. This is the sixth air route the Xinjiang company runs to Central Asian countries, following the ones to Almaty in Kazakstan and Bishkek in Kyrgzstan.
Pakistan purchases Tajik power
Tajikistan will export 2bn kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity per year to Pakistan. An agreement was reached during a recent session of the Tajik-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation in Islamabad. A Tajik delegation at the session has consisted of representatives from the government and some relevant ministries, led by Economy and Trade Minister, Hakim Soliyev, the head of the Economy and Trade Ministry's press service, Ghafurjon Rasulov, said, Asia-Plus reported.
According to Rasulov, Pakistan has agreed to invest in construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan and pledged itself to construct the electric main for transmitting electricity to Pakistan.
Head of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Power Engineering, Rashid Gulov, said that the electric main would be drawn most likely from the Roghun power plant. "If the Roghun hydroelectric power station is constructed, Tajikistan will be able to supply some 2-3bn kWh of electricity generated by this power plant to Pakistan per year in the summer season," Gulov said. "Construction of the Roghun and Sangtuda power plants will allow Tajikistan to generate in the summer period more than 10bn kWH of electricity extra, which they will be bale to export to neighbouring countries."
Tajikistan has signed an agreement with Russia's Unified Energy Systems to export 1.4bn kWh of electricity per year to Russia for five years beginning in 2004. Tajikistan's Norak hydroelectric power station will generate the electricity.
Dushanbe, Tehran launch talks for Sangtuda facility
Issues related to the completion of the construction of a hydroelectric power in Sangtuda, Tajikistan, were discussed during a recent meeting of Tajik President Emomali Rahkmonov with Iranian Ambassador to Tajikistan Nosir Sarmad Porso, the president's presidential press service informed, New Europe reported recently.
The Tajik president and the Iranian ambassador noted that with the creation of an international consortium to finish the construction of the Sangtuda power plant and participation of Iranian specialists in construction of Anzob tunnel in Tajikistan a new stage of bilateral cooperation between Tajikistan and Iran has got off the ground, spokesman for the Tajik president, Abdufattoh Sharipov, told Asia Plus.
During the meeting, the Iranian diplomat told Rahkmonov that in the near future, a group of Iranian experts in construction would arrive in Dushanbe. They will participate in the construction of the hydropower plant in Sangtuda.
Both sides also discussed the possibility of developing further trade and economic relations between the two countries. It was noted that last year, trade turnover between Tajikistan and Iran increased by 70% to US$75m.
According to Sharipov, the Tajik government was satisfied with the level of trade and economic corporation with Iran, which had been reached over the last several years. At the same time, Rahkmonov noted that the two countries had great potential to expand the existing collaboration, especially in launching joint ventures for processing farm produce and development of natural resources.
The sides also exchanged views on the current situation in the region, participation of their countries in reconstruction of Afghanistan's economy and other issues of mutual interest.
New highway leads to China
Broadening bilateral ties between Tajikistan and China are assisting in opening a new highway via the Kulma mountain pass, which was due to open at the end of May with a border checkpoint linking China's Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region and Tajikistan's Gorno Badakhshan autonomous province (GBAO), New Europe reported recently.
On behalf of Tajikistan, Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov, Minister of State Revenues and Tax Collections Ghulomjon Boboyev, Chairman of the Tajik Border Protection Committee Abdurrahmon Azimov, GBAO Governor Alimamad Niyozmamadov and Tajik ambassador to China Bahodur Abdulloyev attended the official opening of the border crossing checkpoint Kulma-Qarasu. The checkpoint will be still operational during the summer and autumn periods.
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