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TAJIKISTAN


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,303 1,208 1,100 148
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 190 180 180 197
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Tajikistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
143,100 

Population 
7,011,556

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital 
Dushanbe

Currency 
Tajik Somoni

President 
Emomali Rakhmonov



Update No: 301 - (30/01/06)

Russia is back
The US rapidly became interested in the back-of-beyond republic of Tajikistan when it became clear that it was the key Central Asian state to assist in its Afghan operations after 9:11. Dushanbe airport granted the US air force landing and take-off rights, vital for provisioning forward troop deployment in Afghanistan.
But Russia has never accepted that it should fall out of its sphere of influence. Russia has announced an agreement under which Russian and Indian troops would share an air base in Tajikistan. The base, located at Aini (sometimes written as Ayni) outside the capital Dushanbe, gives Russia a second military facility in Tajikistan, in addition to over 5,000 border guards based there. 
Moscow has also announced that it is establishing a supply facility in Tajikistan to make sure that its weapons sales to China are quickly serviced. 

Post 9:11 success story
Things are looking up in Tajikistan, a rare occurrence in its part of the world. The country sprang into prominence after 9:11 as in the frontline against terrorism. The Taleban have been a godsend for the Tajiks, whose ethnic brethren comprise the backbone of the Northern Alliance, the US's main ally in Afghanistan.
There are still restrictions on political freedom, but compared with its Central Asian neighbours it is showing a modest level of political maturity. Tajikistan is trying to open its borders to serve as a new route for north-south trade, while allowing Islamists and Communists to sit in Parliament.
This is the more remarkable in that the republic was torn by civil strife in the immediate aftermath of independence. In 1997 the United Nations brokered a peace deal to end a four-year civil war that had claimed 50,000 of Tajikistan's six million people. Western promises of substantial aid to help the country recover never materialized. Grinding poverty and economic decline followed, with 600,000 Tajiks leaving to seek work in Russia. The local drugs mafia traded heroin freely with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. 

Economic recovery in full spate 
All that is now in the past, and Dushanbe, the capital, is showing signs of prosperity. For the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union, people are actually smiling, despite the shortage of electricity and the biting cold. Tajikistan's economy is growing at the rate of 8 per cent a year, workers are returning from Russia, foreign investment in the mining industry is up and, since 9/11, so is Western aid. 
Even though at least 100 tons of heroin still cross the Afghan-Tajik border annually, destined for Europe, the government has sponsored a popular campaign among mothers and teenagers to combat drug abuse - the first of its kind in Central Asia. The United Nations has helped establish an antinarcotics unit in the government, which is the least corrupt in the region. And the European Union, the United States, Russia and China are helping to fund and arm a new Tajik force on the Afghan border to keep drugs out. 

Toleration of Islamicist opposition 
Like other Central Asian autocrats, President Emamoli Rahmonov, up for re-election this year (which is a certainty), has been castigated for unfair elections and harassment of those who do not toe the government line, but he tolerates a token opposition that includes members of the Islamic Renaissance Party who fought in the civil war against him. 
The Islamic Renaissance Party has two seats in Parliament and its deputy chairman, Moheyuddin Kabiri, speaks of an evolution toward a more Islamic society, rather than a revolution, and sympathizes with the difficult balancing act that Rahmonov has to manage. The other Central Asian states, especially Uzbekistan, are livid that Tajikistan's president allows Islamists to sit in Parliament - they are of course moderates. 
"What is really making the rest of the world sit up and take notice, from Brussels to Beijing, is Tajikistan's swiftly changing geopolitical situation," reports Ahmed Rashid, the author of ''Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia,'' in The International Herald Tribune of January 4th. 
"Tajikistan is landlocked, with China and Afghanistan to the south and east and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to the north. For a long time Uzbekistan offered the only trade route out to Russia and the West, but the Uzbeks have ruthlessly mined the border, ostensibly to stop Islamic extremists but in reality to put the pressure on Tajikistan to toe the Uzbek line. 
"Now China has built a new road linking Xinjiang, its westernmost province, with Tajikistan. That means a new trade outlet for Tajikistan. In addition, the Americans are building a bridge across the Amu Darya River, which divides Afghanistan and Tajikistan. 
"Once the bridge is completed, China's new road will allow China and Tajikistan to send goods through Afghanistan to Pakistan's southern ports. Imports into Central Asia can also travel this new route. From Dushanbe they can be distributed to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan and China. 
"Tajikistan also stands to gain if regional trade increases. A new report by the UN Development Program says that Central Asia could double its regional trade by reducing artificial trade barriers and loss-making protectionism. That would also help to lower the smuggling and drugs trade that accounts for 40 per cent of Central Asia's economies. 
"Meanwhile, the United States, Russia and China are vying for military bases in Tajikistan. Rahmonov is playing his hand adroitly. The Russians have an air base, and so does France, under the auspices of NATO. 
"Tajikistan is still weak and poor, however, and will not be able to progress further unless the political habits of other Central Asian leaders change and the West is willing to be more liberal with its aid."

Work underway on bridge over Amu River 
One instance of successful Western help is under way already. Work has been started on a key bridge worth US$30m over the Amu (Oxus) River, linking Tajikistan to Afghanistan, which should do a great deal to stimulate trade. About 200 Afghan and foreign engineers are busy installing the bridge that will connect Sher Khan Port on the Afghan side to Nizhiniy Pyanzh. It will serve as a pivotal link between Central Asia and Southern Asia. 
The 630-metre-long bridge, the biggest transit route between Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbours, will be built with US funds. 
Mohammad Hasan Mustaqim, a senior official in Sher Khan Port, told Pajhwok Afghan News that installation of the pillars in the middle of the river has started and that work from the Port side would commence soon. The part of the bridge from the Tajik side was near to completion, but the engineers on the Afghan side were waiting for material, he added. 

Security conference in Dushanbe
Tajikistan's rising importance in Central Asia was evident at the Forum for Conflict Prevention in Central Asia, which opened on December 14th in Dushanbe, with UN representative Vladimir Goryaev focusing delegates' attention on the agenda, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty reported on December 15th. "As you know we brought to the agenda very delicate and extremely important issues," he said. "The issues related to coordination of international cooperation with the Central Asian governments in combating extremism, international terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime."
Yet two days seemed hardly enough to discuss such key issues among not only from the region's five governments, but also from Afghanistan, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Sirojiddin Komilov, the deputy director of Tajikistan's Institute for Strategic Studies, said cooperation among the region's countries was the key to resolving security problems. "The creation of an effective mechanism of cooperation for the peoples of Central Asia is of vitally important significance. And the future of the region depends on this cooperation successfully becoming an organic part of the region itself," Komilov said.
All speakers agreed that a mechanism for greater cooperation was essential to security in the region. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Haidar Rizo said the problems under discussion had nearly destroyed his country.
"The one country that has suffered the most as a result of terrorism and extremism and drug trafficking is Afghanistan. Afghanistan was hit at the very base, destroying its lifeline, its infrastructure, economy, human resources and its identity and place among the international community," Rizo said.
Kazakstan's ambassador to Tajikistan, Yerbol Shohimardonov, agreed that terrorism, narcotics, and organized crime were the biggest threats to security. But he said the vehicle for spreading these plagues was often illegal migration.
"Illegal immigration aids the spread of the narcotics business, the illegal transportation of weapons and other forms of organized crime. Unfortunately, the norms and national legislation of Central Asian governments are not harmonized to take needed steps against illegal immigration," Shohimardonov said. 
Uzbekistan, meanwhile, has recently been criticized for its tactics in fighting terrorism that are perceived by many as excessive. But Uzbekistan's ambassador to Tajikistan, Shoqosim Shoislomov, said one of the main obstacles between the region's countries and the international community was the latter's failure to fully understand the Central Asian region. "There are several international organizations that do not always fully or deeply grasp the situation in the region. They view our history, traditions, our customs and our respect for our roots as being backwards, or representing a lack of desire to travel along the path of civilization and embrace democracy," Shoislomov said.
Some of the delegates, notably Turkmen First Deputy Foreign Minister Iklimberdy Paromov, used their speeches to tout their country's progress in eliminating the problems being discussed at the forum. 
At the close of the forum, Komilov, the director of Tajikistan's Institute for Strategic Studies, proposed setting up a regional centre for coordinating activities against terrorism. Afghan representative Muhammad Ibrohim Ghafuri agreed with the idea and made a suggestion of his own. "The countries-participants should prepare a list of terrorist and extremist organizations active in their countries," he said. Ghafuri said such a list would help regional governments identify potential threats not only to themselves but neighbouring states as well.
But UN representative Goryaev said that by discussing such key issues, the region is effectively taking steps toward resolving its security problems.
(Salimjon Aioub and Mirzonabi Kholiqzod of RFE/RL's Tajik Service contributed to this report)

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Dushanbe, Tehran study expansion of mutual ties 

Visiting Tajik Parliament Speaker, Saidullo Khairullayev, conferred in Iran on December 25th with Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, on expansion of mutual relations as well as regional cooperation, IRNA reported. 
According to the Iranian Information and Press Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the meeting, Mottaki expressed satisfaction over the peaceful solution to Tajikistan's internal disputes which led to the termination of civil war and said the two countries enjoy common interests and concerns. 
Iran and Tajikistan have adopted a joint stance on many international issues, he pointed out. Given the historical and cultural commonalties, he said as stated by the president, the Iranian government is to study and remove existing barriers to expansion of mutual relations. Highlighting the importance of regional cooperation on the basis of ECO agreements, he said expansion of mutual cooperation under ECO could lead to further expansion of economic relations resulting in the restoration of stability in the region. Anzab tunnel, which is scheduled to be inaugurated in the next Iranian year (starts March 2006), is among the joint ventures between Iran and Tajikistan, he said and informed Tajik parliament speaker of the latest stands taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran on peaceful use of nuclear technology. Referring to the rights and duties of NPT's signatories, he described their observance of obligations while being deprived of their legitimate rights as "apartheid." Tajik parliament speaker, for his part, lauded Iran's move for further expansion of all-out relations between the two countries and said, "We are to benefit from Iran's experiences in parliamentary affairs." 

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Iran to make more investment in Tajikistan 

On January 4th a meeting was held between Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov and Iranian Ambassador to Dushanbe, Nasser Sarmadi-Parsa. During the talks, Rahmonov said that Iran has the potential to further invest in Tajikistan. At the meeting he said that Iranian partners in Tajikistan are given priority. He urged Iran to accelerate the projects currently underway in Tajikistan and its participation in economic projects. For his part, Sarmadi-Parsa submitted the official invitation of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Rahmonov for a visit to Iran. After the meeting, he said Rahmonov was invited by his Iranian counterpart to attend the second tripartite summit of the three Persian speaking countries of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan scheduled to be held in Tehran on January 17, 2006. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamid Karzai from Iran's eastern neighbour Afghanistan and Rahmonov will focus on "boosting and elevating trilateral ties" and "inaugurate the road link between the three nations," the source said. Iran and Afghanistan share a 945 kilometres common border, while Tajikistan borders Afghanistan to the north. Sarmadi-Parsa said, "While accepting Ahmadinejad's invitation, the Tajik president said that his country is prepared to sign new economic agreements with Iran," added Sarmadi-Parsa. He stressed that other items on the agenda included further collaboration and more agreements in economic fields, in particular construction, road building, setting up power plants and raising trade exchanges. The last official visit of Tajikistan's president to Iran took place in late spring of 2003, New Europe reported.

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FOREIGN TRADE AGREEMENT

Tajikistan, Pakistan to sign trade agreement

Pakistan and Tajikistan will enter a preferential trade agreement (PTA) soon and Islamabad has already sent proposals to Dushanbe, sources said recently. The sources said that Pakistan had asked Tajikistan to finalise a draft PTA soon and Pakistan is waiting for a response from Tajikistan, Irinnews reported.
Both countries believe that the agreement will boost the existing volume of trade between the two countries. Both countries will hold talks to finalise the PTA after Islamabad receives a response from Tajikistan. An analyst said that increased trade relations between the two countries would allow the South Asian nation to establish itself as a gateway for Central Asian trade and commerce.
Pakistan predicted that the trade relations with Tajikistan would be a source for increased revenue and would also provide opportunities for central Asian states especially Tajikistan to boost cheaper exports. Both countries have announced the formation of working groups on countering regional terrorism and regional stability.
The countries have also agreed to focus on visa facilitation, avoiding double taxation, combating drug trafficking, improving education, judiciary, tourism and cooperation between official news agencies.
The Pak-Tajik Joint Economic Commission has identified infrastructure, manufacturing, textiles, cement, banking, oil and gas, capital markets, scientific technology, tourism, mining, energy, irrigation and agriculture as areas where the two countries can boost economic ties.
Pakistan will help Tajikistan to develop hydropower and irrigation and Tajikistan is interested in cooperating in cement, cotton production, agriculture and establishment of air links.
Pakistan and Tajikistan have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sale of electricity to Pakistan and mutual cooperation in the field of hydro power development, particularly high voltage transmission lines. Pakistan will buy a thousand megawatts of electric power and expressed interest to open air and land routes between the two countries as desired by the president, Pervez Musharraf, and PM, Shaukat Aziz.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Vimpelcom acquires 60% of Tacom for 12m Euro 

VimpelCom (RTS: VIMP), Russia's second leading cellular operator in subscriber numbers, has acquired 60 per cent of Tajik mobile operator Tacom for 12 million Euro, VimpelCom said, New Europe reported.
Tacom owns national licences to provide GSM-900/1800, UMTS, CDMA-450 and AMPS services. VimpelCom has concluded a shareholders' agreement with the owners of the remaining 40 per cent of the company after it acquired its 60 per cent stake. One of the shareholders is the owner and head of Orienbank, the largest bank in Tajikistan. The shareholders' agreement also gives VimpelCom the option to buy up to 100 per cent of the company from the remaining shareholders under specific conditions that will allow VimpelCom to become the sole shareholder in Tacom. 
The price of using the option corresponds to the figure in the agreement, the release said. Alexander Izosimov, chief executive officer of VimpelCom, said "We are pleased that we are starting operations in Tajikistan. We will develop and integrate Tacom into the Beeline network and use our unified business approach. Given the latest economic performance of the country and penetration rate of only four per cent we see good growth opportunities in Tajikistan." VimpelCom has been expanding overseas recently in an effort to diversify beyond Russia, where the mobile penetration rate is over 80 per cent. It provides mobile services in Kazakstan and in November bought a small mobile firm in Ukraine in a deal that was strongly opposed by Norway's Telenor, one of VimpelCom's key shareholders. The VimpelCom Group's licence portfolio covers approximately 200 million people. Geographically it covers 78 regions in Russia (with 136.5 million people, representing 94 per cent of Russia's population) as well as the entire territory of Kazakstan and Ukraine. VimpelCom was the first Russian company to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

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