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: 279 - (23/03/04)
There is nothing like there being competition between several suitors for a maiden's hand to improve her confidence and sense of self worth. Tajikistan is making its maiden appearance on the world stage and attracting newcomers for its cooperation and compliance.
Previously it was about the most remote and ignored country on Earth, courted only by Russia for its proximity to Afghanistan and Soviet- style elite, loyal to Moscow as its protector against Islamicists there. Since 9:11 it has had the US paying it attentions, but also India and Pakistan and from further afield France.
The US in town
The new suitor that matters is of course the US. Firstly it is taking a military form. The US is extending military aid in return for use of Dushanbe airport, a great help in the war against the Taleban. There is nothing like a common enemy to bring people together.
The US is playing a constructive role in improving links between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which were divided by a Soviet border fifteen years ago. The US is putting up $30-40m to build a bridge across the Panj River. US engineers and seismologists have already selected a site for the bridge, which is intended to promote the economic integration of the region. It is to commence in the spring.
The US has been helping with the computerisation of the registration of taxpayers, which was previously done manually. It was introduced in February last year. The budget went into surplus in 2003, as it so happens, of $15m. A small sum for a country with a GDP of $8bn, but a start.
Tajik leaders, recognizing the potential economic and political benefits of cooperation with Washington, have taken steps designed to facilitate the growth of US assistance. Russia -- which is keen to restore its regional influence to the dominating level that existed prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks -- has looked up 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] Rahmonov 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 laborers 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 Rahmonov, 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.
Eskhata clinches EBRD credit line for MSEs
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Eskhata Bank of Tajikistan, as a partner bank receiving technical assistance, recently signed a US$1m credit line, New Europe reported recently.
A news release issued by the EBRD Dushanbe office, said the Tajikistan Micro and small Enterprise Finance Facility (TMSEFF) is the fourth project of its kind in Central Asia and it focuses on institution building in selected Tajik banks and the delivery of sustainable and efficient financing for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs). The facility started lending operations to MSEs in October 2003. The technical assistance helps partner banks in establishing MSE lending departments, developing loan products tailored to entrepreneur's requirements, and in training bank personnel in a cash-flow driven credit technology.
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