Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 302 - (27/02/06)
Teheran forges closer ties with Dushanbe
The Iranian regime is under threat. Washington seems to have taken it as its
next prime target. Yet with Russia's apparent blessing, Iran is pressing ahead
with efforts to forge stronger ties with Tajikistan. There may be wheels within
Tajikistan could, in the future, provide Iran with an abundance of
hydro-electricity should it want it. But the leaders in Tehran appear adamant to
take the nuclear option anyway, putting their country at great risk, given the
ballistic propensities of the Americans.
Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov, paved the way for an expansion of bilateral
ties with a January 16-17 visit to Tehran. During the trip, Tajik and Iranian
leaders issued a Joint Declaration on Broader Relations, as well as signed
agreements providing for Iranian assistance for several Tajik infrastructure
projects, including construction of the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station
and the Shahristan Tunnel.
"Iran and Tajikistan are one spirit in two bodies," Iran's official
IRNA news agency quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying after he
welcomed Rahmonov. "Broad and deep grounds have been established for
bilateral relations and there are no limits to the expansion of relations."
The visit showed that the deep-rooted cultural ties between Iranians and Tajiks
are capable of overcoming political-religious differences between the
governments. Rahmonov is a Soviet-style secularist who has acted steadily to
curb the influence of Islam in Tajikistan's politics in recent years.
Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, is the product of an Islamic puritan movement that wants
to restore the guiding principles of Iran's 1979 revolution. Following
Ahmadinejad's victory in Iran's 2005 presidential election, some Tajik political
analysts predicted a downturn in Tajik-Iranian relations, citing the two
governments' apparent ideological incompatibility. Ahmadinejad has proven such
predictions wrong, however. Some observers speculate that US and European Union
pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme prompted conservative Islamic
leaders in Tehran to set aside long-standing political and religious
considerations in their search for international allies.
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist tragedy, Tajikistan developed
into a forum for US-Russian geopolitical competition and the US has an important
base there. The Rakhmonov administration initially embraced closer ties with the
United States only to later pull back somewhat from Washington and move a little
closer to Russia. Last October, Moscow and Dushanbe signed a far-reaching
strategic cooperation pact that sanctioned the establishment of permanent
Russian military bases on Tajik territory, but of course, Russian troops never
left this former Soviet satellite after the collapse of the USSR.
Given Russia's strong geopolitical position in Tajikistan, local observers say
it is unlikely that Rakhmonov would have made the trip to Iran had he not had
Russia's approval. Moscow has emerged in recent weeks as one of Iran's main
apologists in Tehran's ongoing nuclear dispute with the United States and EU.
In an interview published by IRNA on January 24, Russia's ambassador to
Tajikistan, Ramazan Abdullatipov, offered a vigorous defence of Iran's peaceful
intentions concerning its nuclear programme. US and EU leaders believe Iranian
research is geared toward developing nuclear weapons.
A few observers in Tajikistan express rather alarmist reservations about the
benefits of stronger Tajik-Iranian ties. They harbour concerns that Iranian
hardliners, acting in the spirit of 1979, could possibly seek to use
Farsi-speaking Tajikistan as a vehicle for promoting an Iranian-style Islamic
revolutionary movement in Central Asia.
Kabul gingerly rejects overture
Iran had extended an invitation to Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, to
visit Tehran at the same time Rahmonov was in the Iranian capital. But Karzai
declined the invitation, blaming "bad weather," "technical
problems" and his need to prepare for the donors' conference scheduled to
be held in late January in London.
Political analysts suggest Karzai stayed away from Tehran so as not to
jeopardize Afghanistan's ability to attract economic aid from Western donors.
Kabul-Dushanbe relations are anyway close and cooperative. The ethnic Tajiks are
the backbone of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. When the Lion of the
North, Sheik Massoud, was mortally wounded two days before 9:11 in 2001, he was
taken to an Indian military hospital in Tajikistan, where he duly died.
World Bank to cancel Tajikistan's debt
The World Bank plans to write off Tajikistan's debt, World Bank Senior
vice-president, Francois Bourguignon, said after a meeting with Tajik President,
Emomali Rahmonov, New Europe reported.
The debt of Tajikistan to the World Bank amounted to 307.17 million Euro on
January 1st 2006. Bourguignon said that the decision would be made at a meeting
of the World Bank board in early February after consultations with G8 members,
who had pushed for a write-off of the debts of the nine poorest countries,
including Tajikistan. In addition, the World Bank will increase the funds made
available to Tajikistan this year.
Bourguignon said that Tajikistan has the best economic reforms among the nine
poorest countries. In late 2005, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced
its intention to write off 99 million Euro owed by Tajikistan in early 2006. The
foreign debt of Tajikistan grew 9.3 per cent, to 894.94 million Euro in 2005.
Its main creditors are international financial institutions; among them the
World Bank, the Islamic and Asian Development Banks and the IMF.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Rahmonov, Ahmadinejad to boost Tajik-Iranian ties
Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on January 17th extended an official
welcome for Tajik President, Emomali Rahmonov, who arrived in Iran for a two-day
visit. Rahmonov was invited by Ahmadinejad to attend a conference on
Iran-Tajikistan economic cooperation and held talks with Iranian officials,
Interfax News Agency reported.
Rahmonov was also welcomed by Iranian Commerce Minister, Massoud Mir-Kazemi,
upon arrival at Mehrabad International Airport. During his stay, Rahmonov met
with Majlis Speaker, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Expediency Council Chairman, Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. During these
meetings, the two sides discussed bilateral, regional and international
developments. Iran and Tajikistan currently enjoy a high-level of political and
economic cooperation. The restructuring of Tajikistan's debt to Iran was also
discussed. "The question of restructuring Tajikistan's debt to Iran will be
mulled, and we hope for a decision that would be positive for Tajikistan,"
Rahmonov said at the conference of energy experts from Iran, Russia and
Tajikistan. "An impressive package of documents has been compiled. The
construction of the Anzob tunnel will be discussed. We also intend to propose
the construction of the Shahristan tunnel to Iran," Rahmonov said.
Tajikistan owes Iran nine million Euro. Iran has expressed its readiness to
invest up to 170 million Euro in the Sangtuda-2 hydro power station, with a
capacity of 220 megawatts in Tajikistan. Russia's UES is completing the
construction of the 670 megawatt Sangtuda-1 station, and RusAl, the 3,600
megawatt Rogun power station. The volume of Iran-Tajikistan trade exchanges
stood at 130 million Euro in 2005.
Iran exports mainly foodstuff and construction materials to Tajikistan and
imports aluminium and cotton. Iran has generously participated in Tajikistan's
development through investment in the country, particularly in the construction
of the Anzab tunnel and Sangtuda 2 power plant. Iran's Ambassador to Dushanbe,
Nasser Sarmadi Parsa, said that Rahmonov's visit to Tehran would open a new
chapter in expansion of economic and cultural ties between the two countries.
Sarmadi said that during Rahmonov's stay in Tehran, implementation of various
economic projects was discussed. A draft agreement has been prepared by Iran,
Tajikistan and Afghanistan on trilateral cooperation in the electricity sector,
Iran's minister of Energy, Parviz Fattah, said on January 17th. He referred to
the dam construction as one of the focal issues in the talks currently held
between Iranian and Tajik officials. Besides the drafts of a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) on the transfer of electricity from Tajikistan has already
been prepared. He added that after their approval, the agreements would be
disclosed in further detail. Iran and Tajikistan plan to expand their bilateral
cooperation in the field of dam construction in the near future. Tajikistan is
also interested in the expertise of Iranian experts and engineers in the sector.
MINERALS & METALS
Aluminium production up 10% in 2005
Tajikistan's aluminium production was up nearly 10 per cent in 2005 to more than
375,000 metric tonnes, Muboraksho Mashkhulov, a high-ranking official from the
ministry of economics and trade, said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
The aluminium industry is the Tajikistan's main source of income. According to
Mashkhulov, production increased by 32,700 tonnes year-on-year and gathered 563
million Euro. Tajik President, Emomali Rahmonov, has said the production of this
metal accounts for 50 per cent of the Central Asian republic's budget.