Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 306 - (29/06/06)
Tajikistan bucks the trend in Central Asia
Not all news is bad news. But the latter is more exciting and attention-worthy.
Sometimes the good news is simply not being reported properly.
Most of the news from Central Asia is about rigged elections, the torture of
dissidents, massacres of civilians and economic decline. On the far edge of the
Central Asia landmass, amid the rugged Pamir mountains, Tajikistan is trying to
open its borders to serve as a new route for north-south trade, while allowing
Islamists and Communists to sit together in Parliament.
There are still some restrictions on political freedom in Tajikistan, but
compared with its Central Asian neighbours it is providing a model of political
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
Much of 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 percent 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 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 perhaps 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.
Like other Central Asian autocrats, President Emamoli Rakhmanov has been
castigated for unfair elections and harassment of those who do not toe the
government line, but he tolerates an 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 Rakhmanov has to manage. The other Central Asian states, especially
Uzbekistan, are livid that Tajikistan's president allows Islamists to sit in
The hub of geopolitical developments in Central Asia
But 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.
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, replacing the ancient camel trails 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, known to the west as the Oxus, which divides Afghanistan
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, Kazakhstan and China.
Tajikistan also stands to gain if regional trade increases. A new report by the
UN Development Programme 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. Rakhmanov 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.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Dushanbe, Tehran discuss economic cooperation
Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, met with the Tajik Deputy Foreign
Minister, Salohiddin Nasriddinov, on May 4th in Baku to discuss expansion of
ties between the two countries, Interfax News Agency reported.
The meeting was held on the eve of the ninth summit of the Economic Cooperation
Organisation (ECO), which began on May 5th. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan are the member states of the organisation. At the meeting, Mottaki
spoke on the friendly relations between the two countries and expressed hope
that bilateral relations will also improve. He stressed that implementation of
the Anzab project was manifestation of the two sides determination. According to
Mottaki, both countries share historical, cultural views and a common language
and this further deepen relations between the two countries. For his part,
Nastriddinov highlighted the significant role of Iran in restoration of peace
and stability to the region and said the country plays a very grave role to this
end. We appreciate cooperation of Iranian companies in implementing development
projects in Tajikistan and attach importance to them," he said.
Dushanbe, Tehran to boost defence ties
Tajik Defence Minister, Sherali Khairulloyev, and his Iranian counterpart,
Mostafa Mohammad Najar, discussed a wide range of issues related to bilateral
and multilateral cooperation in the defence area, the Iranian media reported.
The Iranian authorities are ready to help Tajikistan bolster the defence
capabilities of its army and improve its security, Najar said. The Iranian
government appreciates Tajikistan's support of Iran's right to peaceful nuclear
technology, the minister said. No external factors are able to influence
relations between the two countries, he added. Bilateral and multilateral
contacts should continue since they help maintain stability and security in the
region and promote cooperation between the region's countries, Khairulloyev
Dushanbe, Tehran to expand relations
A meeting took place between the commander of Tajikistan's Border Guard
Committee, Saeed Amir Zohourev, and Iranian Defence Minister, Mostafa Mohammad
Najjar. During the talks, Najjar stressed that Tajikistan has a crucial position
in Iran's defence policy. Endorsement of a defence agreement between the two
countries and Iran's partnership in the construction of Anzab tunnel and
Sangtoudeh water power plant are instances of cooperation of both states, added
Najjar. He viewed the significant role of the commonalities the two countries
share in the development of extensive defence cooperation, reported Interfax
The minister further underlined that the two countries' identical stances and
effective role in the region require development of all-out ties, particularly
in the defence-technical sector, in compliance with the international rules. For
his part, Zohourev appreciated Iran's support aids to his country and said that
Tajikistan is ready to use Iran's experiences in areas of border guarding and
campaign against drug trafficking. He also said Tajikistan welcomes endorsement
of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in the said grounds. According to
Zohourev, Iranians and Tajikistanis are like a single nation as both countries
share same background, culture and language. The Tajik official also stressed
Iran's right of access to peaceful nuclear technology and reiterated that Iran
should not be pressurized for practicing the inalienable and indubitable rights
entitled to it by the international rules and regulations. He said both
countries are ready to expand relations.
Tajik foreign minister visits China
Tajik Foreign Minister, Talbak Nazarov, left for China on an eight-day official
visit, the Tajik foreign ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Nazarov was to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, and visit several
Chinese cities in an effort to build up trade cooperation. On May 15th, Nazarov
attended a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation, which comprises China, Russia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status in the organisation.
Afghanistan's admission as an observer is currently under consideration. Trade
between China and Tajikistan grew by 6.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2006,
year-on-year, reaching 22.4 million Euro, which accounts for 3.2 per cent of
Tajikistan's foreign trade turnover. Tajikistan exported 1.2 million Euro worth
of commodities to China and imported Chinese commodities worth 21.2 million
MINERALS & METALS
RusAl to invest 5 n Euro to complete Rogun plant
Russian Aluminium has started preparation work as part of a project to complete
the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant in Tajikistan, the RusAl office in Dushanbe said
in a statement, Interfax News Agency reported.
In total the company plans to invest 50 million Euro in preparation work.
"Investment will be made in creating the necessary conditions to train and
house specialists that will work on building the plant, priority work to restore
and build the necessary infrastructure and also the purchase of special
construction equipment," the press release said. Construction of the Rogun
plant on the Vakhsh River began in March 1981, but was halted in 1993 due to
lack of funds and the difficult political situation in Tajikistan. In autumn
2004 the republic signed a cooperation agreement with RusAl dealing, among other
things, with financing for the completion of the Rogun plant, with a design
capacity of 3600 megawatts and annual production of 13.1 billion kWh of
electricity. RusAl investment in the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant should amount to
about one billion Euro. RusAl plans to use the cheap energy produced by the
plant for an aluminium plant that it plans to build in Tajikistan. The launch of
the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant will make Tajikistan the largest electricity
exporter in the region.
Tajiksitan drops aluminium smelter privatisation plans
Tajikistan has dropped plans to privatise the Tadjiksky Aluminium Plant (TadAZ),
Emomali Rahmonov, the country's president, said at a business forum in Astana,
Kazakstan. Privatisation is off the agenda right now, Rahmonov said, New Europe
"The question is not one of privatisation, but one of cooperation," he
said, adding that Kazakstan had expressed an interest in buying into the smelter
at talks on May 4th.
Rahmonov also suggested establishing direct supplies of Kazak alumina to the
TadAZ smelter. "We could sign a deal for 200,000 tonnes, 300,000 tonnes or
at least 100,000 tonnes right now if you like," he said.
Rahmonov said TadAZ was running at the sort of capacity to produce 400,000
tonnes of aluminium per year. It produced 386,000 tonnes in Soviet times.
"We'll hit 420,000 tonnes this year," he said. Capacity at the
smelter, which was built in 1976 and is 60 kilometres west of Dushanbe, is
600,000 tpy. Aluminium exports account for about half of Tajikistan's forex
revenue. The Tajik government had planned to draft a privatisation plan for the
smelter by the middle of 2005. Russia-based aluminium companies RusAl and SUAL
have said they were interested in buying into the smelter. Agreements were
signed in Dushanbe in October 2004 stating that RusAl would invest 150 million
Euro modernising two potlines at TadAZ.