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: 278 - (01/03/04)
The Tajiks are doing rather better than for some time, albeit from a very low base. They are friendly to foreigners and welcome any sign of interest
IMF to the rescue
The IMF is offering a helping hand to Dushanbe, aware of the government's new-found openness to the West, which has brought the Americans and the French to town, even while relations with India are developing rapidly.
Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov and head of the IMF mission to Tajikistan, Robert Christiansen discussed progress in the country's economic reforms, presidential press secretary, Abdufatokh Sharipov was quoted as saying by Interfax News Agency.
"Rakhmonov acknowledged the successful cooperation between the country's government and the
IMF, and the mission head's personal contribution in the country," Sharipov said. In particular, successful cooperation between Tajikistan and the IMF has lead to macroeconomic stability, the press secretary said. Tajikistan's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10.2 per cent in 2003 from 2002.
The US woes Tajikistan
The US is making a big effort to improve ties with Tajikistan. Since the Soviet collapse, Dushanbe was for long Russia's staunchest ally in Central Asia. But Tajik leaders have lately, much to the chagrin of Moscow, been receptive to Washington's overtures.
Tajik Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov met new US Ambassador Richard Hoagland on December 3 for wide-ranging discussions that sought to promote "the expansion and strengthening of [US] cooperation with Tajikistan," according to a report broadcast on Tajik state television.
In a late November interview, Hoagland stressed that Washington was seeking to boost Tajik economic growth. "Life is still hard for many Tajik citizens, but we support the work of the Tajik government," Hoagland said in the interview published December 1. He added that Washington was ready "to provide assistance in many spheres of life."
Tajikistan's primary attraction for Washington is its strategic location along Afghanistan's northern border. At present that frontier is guarded mainly by Russian border troops. Hoagland sought to reassure Moscow that Washington's growing strategic and economic presence in Tajikistan was not aimed at reducing Russia's role. He added that the United States sought to work with Russia to promote regional security. "People with sound judgment in Moscow understand and are ready for this kind of pragmatic cooperation," Hoagland said.
Tajik leaders, recognizing the potential economic and political benefits of cooperation with Washington, have taken steps designed to facilitate the growth of US assistances. Russia -- which is keen to restore its regional influence to the dominating level that existed prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks -- has looked at Dushanbe's diplomatic shift with chagrin. A signal of Moscow's displeasure is the ongoing harassment of Tajik migrant workers in Russia.
Tajikistan's recent ratification of an agreement that grants US soldiers immunity from prosecution at the International Criminal Court could further damage the country's relationship with Russia, experts say. The agreement paves the way for a potential expansion of the US strategic presence in Tajikistan.
Under the so-called Article 98 accord, ratified on October 9, Tajikistan will return to the United States any American military personnel charged with a crime rather than extradite them to The Hague for trial at the ICC -- a court whose jurisdiction the Bush Administration does not recognize.
"President [Emomali] Rakhmonov is taking every opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to the White House and, thus, distance himself from the Kremlin," commented independent political analyst Tursun
Kabirov. "The Article 98 agreement is another step in this direction."
The Article 98 ratification followed a prolonged deterioration of relations between Tajikistan and Russia. In 2002, Russian authorities deported several hundred Tajik migrant labourers from Moscow, and have delayed finalizing a bilateral agreement that would clarify the status of the thousands of Tajik workers who remain.
By comparison, economic aid is leading the growth of US-Tajik ties. In 2002, the United States gave Tajikistan $140.5 million in assistance for various humanitarian, border security and reform initiatives a considerable sum for a country whose annual GDP of $8 billion ranks as Central Asia's lowest.
Still greater benefits could be in the offing. At a November 13 meeting in Dushanbe with President
Rakhmonov, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Elizabeth Jones emphasized Washington's support for a Tajik bid for membership in the World Trade Organization, ITAR-TASS reported.
Given the economic stakes, Tajikistan had little choice but to comply with Washington's desired Article 98 immunity agreement, commented Marat
Mamadshoyev, a leading member of the opposition Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan.
"Refusing to sign [the agreement] would mean denying American assistance and political support," Mamadshoyev said. "Tajik authorities cannot afford to do that."
Tajikistan was among the first countries to sign and ratify the Article 98 agreement. It is a controversial auxiliary to the Rome Statute, a 1998 UN agreement that established the ICC as the world's first permanent tribunal for genocide and other war crimes.
IMF approves US$14.6m in financing for Tajikistan
The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) executive board recently finalised the second review of Tajikistan's economic performance under the three-year "Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility" arrangement, New Europe reported.
The former Soviet republic will receive SDR 9.8m (US$14.6m) under the arrangement.
The board green-lighted the three-year arrangement effective on December 11th, 2002 for SDR 65m (US$97m). Overall disbursements under the programme to SDR 25.8m (US$38.5m).
The PRGF is the IMF's concessional facility for low-income countries. PRGF-supported programmes are based on country-owned poverty reduction strategies adopted in a participatory process involving civil society and development partners and articulated in a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
"Tajikistan's performance under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement has been generally satisfactory," said Agustin
Carstns, deputy managing director and acting chairman of the Fund.
MINERALS & METALS
RusAl invests US$45m in Tajikistan smelter
Russian Aluminium giant RusAl spent US$45m on upgrades and working capital at the TadAZ aluminium smelter in Tajikistan last year, Interfax News Agency reported.
RusAl said it signed long-term agreements with the smelter in 2003 to supply raw material and sell finished products.
TadAZ is Central Asia's only aluminium smelter. Capacity is 517,000 tonnes of primary aluminium per year.
RusAl is one of the world's top-three aluminium companies.
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: