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: 280 - (29/04/04)
India and Tajikistan in new ties
India is an important geopolitical partner for Dushanbe. The Tajikistan President, Emomali Sharifovich Rakhmanov, did not mince his words recently when he pointed to the danger of terrorism and the need to deal with the menace while addressing a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"We have experienced terrorism, we are not talking about it on the basis of hearsay," Mr. Rakhmanov said, stressing that Tajikistan was a "buffer zone" which had protected Central Asia, Russia and Europe from the problem.
Sounding quite like Indian leaders speaking on terrorism, Mr. Rakhmanov said that he had reminded the international community about the deadly nature of the problem in 1997-98. He had even raised the issue at the United Nations. "It appeared as if the international community needed September 11 to recognise the threat," he said, pointing out that many politicians, including some in Central Asia, had failed to appreciate adequately the dangers from terrorist actions.
According to Mr. Rakhmanov, his country was the key in stopping the flow of narcotics to Russia and Europe.
Narcotics worth $1 billion had been seized in Tajikistan over the last three years, he added.
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. Japan too has an interest in hydro-electricity.
The IMF will support the budget, which has broadly met with its approval, as do plans to nearly double GDP by 2015, still some way off.
The US woos Tajikistan
The US has just appointed a new skilled diplomat in Dushanbe in Richard Hoagland. He is a heavyweight appointment for such an apparently out-of-the-way place. But of course everything changed after 9:11. Tajikistan suddenly became a front-line state in the anti-terrorism struggle, right next to Afghanistan, but it is nevertheless an intriguing appointment.
The US has since 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 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 [Imomali] 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. US diplomats have pressured numerous small and relatively insignificant nations to sign this and many have done so.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
ADB approves TA grant for Tajik education
ADB will help improve educational planning and financial management in Tajikistan through a technical assistance (TA) grant approved for US$150,000, a statement from the organisation offices said recently. The TA will boost the capacity of the ministry of education to utilise information from the educational management information system, and help it draw on experiences from various initiatives and approaches to targeting resources and prioritising expenditures.
According to ADB, the TA will: assist the ministry of education in developing medium term education plans underpinned by public expenditure review and medium term expenditure framework; and propose management development for improving educational planning and financial management. The TA supports the ADB-backed Education Sector Reform project in Tajikistan, approved last December, New Europe reported recently.
ECHO approves 8m Euro aid package for Tajikistan
The European Commission recently ratified an €8m budget on humanitarian aid for the republic of Tajikistan, New Europe reported.
The money, allocated through the office of the Euro Commission on humanitarian help (ECHO) in Tajikistan under the direct management of Commissioner, Poul Nielson, will be used for food, medication, hygiene work and also projects on water which will be carried out by international and non-governmental organisations.
Commenting on this decision, Nielson said: "In addition to rendering food aid to the population of Tajikistan, the accepted decision will allow ECHO to focus the efforts to medical projects, and also on sanitary works and projects on water."
Nielson added: "As a result of economic stagnation, consequences of civil war and a drought, the most part of the population of the country feels extreme need," he noted. A large part of the population experiences difficulties in accessing pure drinking water and health services, which in turn, leads to flashes of infectious diseases and malaria."
To this effect, the European institution will distribute €8m amongst the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
About 65,000 people, including 20,000 children, will receive food aid. More than 3,000 agriculture projects will be involved with food safety.
Access to pure, potable water and sanitary conditions will be improved for more than 50,000 people, and also through medical institutions the population will be provided with vital medicines throughout the entire country. All regions of the country will be involved in this process, but special efforts will be made in the Khatlon area where the level of poverty of the population is especially high.
Since 1992 the European Commission has allocated more than €155m on rendering humanitarian help to the Tajik republic.
GBAO agrees with AKDN on health sector reforms
Hukumat of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Province (GBAO) and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Tajikistan have signed an agreement on reforming the GBAO health sector for 2004-2006, Asia-Plus News Agency reported recently.
Head of the GBAO Health Administration, Davlatnazar Alinazarov, said that the project will be funded on the basis of share participation - the government will assign 40% and the Aga Khan Development Network will assign 60%. "At the first stage (2004), it is planned to realise measures aimed at reforming hospital service," Alinazarov said, noting that presently more than 70% of budgetary funds are spent just on this service. At the same time, it is planned to carry out repair works and to rehabilitate district hospitals, modernise the regional hospital and orientate the sector towards prophylaxis and primary medical aid as well as create a structure of family doctors' service, and rural medical aid
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