Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 286 - (28/10/04)
In profoundly corrupt settings, leaders go to extraordinary
lengths to cling to power for fear of prosecution by their successors. President
Emomali Rakhmonov pushed through a referendum last year that allows him to stay
in power through 2020.
Nevertheless, he is opening up his country to the wider world.
Tajik president in six-day European tour
The president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov, had a six-day European tour in
late October that took him to the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Rakhmonov held talks with Czech leaders aimed at securing investment in a
hydroelectric power station in Sangtuda, located on the river Vakhsh, 60
kilometres (35 miles) southeast of the Tajik capital Dushanbe.
Dushanbe is struggling to complete financing for the plant, which has already
taken 15 years to build and Tajik authorities are in negotiations with Iran over
a 400-million-dollar grant to complete the Soviet-era project.
In Luxembourg, Rakhmonov signed a partnership agreement with the European Union
-- Tajikistan is the last of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia to have
signed such agreements with the 25-nation EU.
Rakhmonov ended his tour with a trip to Brussels, where he visited the
headquarters of the NATO military alliance. Tajikistan allowed the US to use air
bases and other facilities in its war against the Taleban and al-Qaeda, although
the promised follow-up has not been forthcoming in the manner expected.
Washington has been distracted by Iraq.
India the new ally
Rakhmanov is opening up to Asia, not just Europe.
India's first-ever military outpost on foreign soil, located at Farkhor, about
10 km outside Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, is ready to become operational by
this year-end, without any fanfare.
Reliable sources in the government say the Indian Air Force (IAF) is pressing
for an early decision on a suitable aircraft to be stationed at this military
base. Operational requirements stipulate at least two squadrons to be stationed
there. Logically, experts say, IAF could opt for MiG-29s that are already in its
inventory and can be flown in and out of the region.
Although Indian officials are not willing to discuss the importance of the
Farkhor military base, foreign analysts have noted that the acquisition of the
military base in Tajikistan would certainly give the Indian armed forces a
longer strategic reach.
Defence sources describe it as a "modern" military base where 95 per
cent of the infrastructure is in place. The runway, the blast pans and the
control tower are ready.
The Army is also into this exercise, having long operated a military hospital
there, basically to nurse the Northern Alliance soldiers who fought the Taliban
regime in neighbouring Afghanistan between 1997 and 2001. It was to this
hospital that Ahmed Shah Massoud, the last of the anti-Taliban resistance
leader, was brought dead after al-Qaeda's emissaries, posing as TV journalists,
killed him in an explosion three years ago.
The base is the outcome of considerable behind-the-scene work by the MEA,
clinched after the US, which marked a big military presence in Central Asia in
the wake of 9/11, preferred not to establish a base.
Work by then defence minister George Fernandes led to a bilateral agreement
being signed in 2002 during then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Tajikistan.
Even before 9/11, Rakhmonov had been visiting India. The two countries share
common security threat perceptions.
Although Russia's 82nd Motorised Division guards the Tajik border with
Afghanistan, the bilateral agreement stipulates the presence of both Indian Army
and IAF personnel who will also assist in warding off any threat to Tajikistan.
Tajikistan targets bigger cotton harvest this year
Tajikistan plans to harvest 610,000 tonnes of raw cotton this year against
533,177 tonnes in the previous year (an increase of 14 per cent), the
agriculture ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
This includes plans to harvest 140,000 tonnes of fine cotton fibre, against
57,926 tonnes in 2003. There had recently been 147,206 tonnes of cotton
harvested or 24.1 per cent of the planned harvest, a three-fold increase over
last year's 47,800 tonnes. In the current year, there were 293,000 hectares of
farmland planted with cotton (40.4 per cent of the country's irrigated land) -
8,600 more than in 2003. Cotton yield was 1.8 tonnes per hectare in 2003. The
Tajik government drafted a resolution in 2002 to increase the cotton harvest to
700,000 tonnes by 2005. Tajikistan produced 850,000-900,000 tonnes annually
during the Soviet era. Almost all of the country's cotton is exported.
Russian electricity in Afghanistan via Tajikistan
Unified Energy Systems of Russian (EES Rossii) could enter Afghanistan's energy
system via Tajikistan, the chief of the national electricity utility, Anatoly
Chubais, said recently. During a news conference held recently he stated:
"This will be possible if our projects in Tajikistan are implemented, which
will take three to ten years."
Chubais stressed that "Afghanistan is even now receiving electric energy
from Tajikistan" that is in turn connected to Russia. "We are
seriously analysing grid projects for Afghanistan," he said, Itar-Tass News
Chubais did not rule out that the EES Rossii could join China's energy system in
prospect. "At present this topic sounds hypothetical, but it could become a
reason for serious talks," Chubais said.
"China is now present in our discussions, even though Iran is in them more
often," Chubais said.
He added that he could probably hold talks in Iran soon. As for other operations
of EES Rossii abroad, Chubais said: "Large-scale projects could appear soon
in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan." He admitted that talks on the Russian
company's buying a 50 per cent stake in Kazakstan's Ekibastuz hydroelectric
station were difficult, but were nearing completion. Besides, "we have got
positive results in Georgia," he added.
"Despite the most acute political events, our business in this country is
developing positively, and the Georgian leadership on the whole has been able to
find a sound approach to solving these issues," Chubais said. He expressed
hope that the coming winter in Georgia, whose energy system EES Rossii owns,
would go without failures of the energy and heat supply.
MINERALS & METALS
Rossel, Rahmonov discuss aluminium cooperation
Sverdlovsk region Governor Eduard Rossel and Tajikistan President Emomali
Rakhmonov, discussed cooperation between SUAL, Russia's second biggest aluminium
company, and Tajikistan's Tadaz aluminium smelter at a recent meeting in
Dushanbe, Rossel's press office said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
The cooperation may begin with SUAL's Bogoslovsk and Uralsky plants supplying
aluminium to Tadaz, the press office added.
Tadaz may increase output of pre-baked nodes for its own needs and for SUAL's
smelters. Tadaz, which the Tajik government is planning to privatise, earlier
said it regarded SUAL as a strategic partner and potential shareholder. Alumina
shipments from the Nikolayev refinery in Ukraine, which is controlled by RusA1,
Russia's biggest aluminium company, are becoming too expensive, as the alumina
has to be shipped via Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, a Tadaz representative said.
"SUAL is advantageous from the geographical point of view, it would cost
less to transport alumina from the Urals," the Tadaz source said. Tadaz
stopped buying alumina from the Pavlodar refinery in Kazakstan back in 2002.
Alexei Prokohorov, SUAL's public relations manager, earlier said SUAL was
supplying alumina and other types of raw material to Tadaz, "but the
volumes of these supplies cannot be described as significant." He said,
"We are interested in developing cooperation, but it is too early at this
stage to talk in detail."
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