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: 277 - (01/02/04)
The Tajiks are pleased as punch by recent developments. The events of 9:11 and its aftermath have brought them in from the cold. The US now has a presence in the republic, using Dushanbe airport and extending aid. Tajikistan is increasingly under the wing of the US military, which uses Dushanbe airfield to replenish bases in Afghanistan. France is also present militarily and economically, while India is increasingly involved in a big way. All of which lessens dependence on Big Brother Russia.
The US woos Tajikistan
The US is making a big effort to improve ties with Tajikistan. Since the Soviet collapse, Dushanbe was for long Russia's staunchest ally in Central Asia. But Tajik leaders have lately, much to the chagrin of Moscow, been receptive to Washington's overtures.
Tajik Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov met new US Ambassador Richard Hoagland on December 3 for wide-ranging discussions that sought to promote "the expansion and strengthening of [US] cooperation with Tajikistan," according to a report broadcast on Tajik state television.
In a late November interview, Hoagland stressed that Washington was seeking to boost Tajik economic growth. "Life is still hard for many Tajik citizens, but we support the work of the Tajik government," Hoagland said in the interview published December 1. He added that Washington was ready "to provide assistance in many spheres of life."
Tajikistan's primary attraction for Washington is its strategic location along Afghanistan's northern border. At present that frontier is guarded mainly by Russian border troops. Hoagland sought to reassure Moscow that Washington's growing strategic and economic presence in Tajikistan was not aimed at reducing Russia's role. He added that the United States sought to work with Russia to promote regional security. "People with sound judgment in Moscow understand and are ready for this kind of pragmatic cooperation," Hoagland said.
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 at 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, ITAR-TASS reported.
Given the economic stakes, Tajikistan had little choice but to comply with Washington's desired Article 98 immunity agreement, commented Marat Mamadshoyev, a leading member of the opposition Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan.
"Refusing to sign [the agreement] would mean denying American assistance and political support," Mamadshoyev said. "Tajik authorities cannot afford to do that."
Tajikistan was among the first countries to sign and ratify the Article 98 agreement. It is a controversial auxiliary to the Rome Statute, a 1998 UN agreement that established the ICC as the world's first permanent tribunal for genocide and other war crimes.
India reinforces its base
India has quietly had a base in Tajikistan since before 9:11. Now it is refurbishing another.
To safeguard oil and other interests India recently opened a military base in Aybi, about 10km northeast of the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe. Officials in India's Defence Ministry confirmed to the Indian Express newspaper that India was overhauling the dilapidated Tajik airbase at the cost of about 500m rupees (US$11m).
India's Oil and Natural Gas Commission Videsh Ltd (OVL) has an alliance with the Kazakstan government for oil exploration in the Alibekmola and Kurmangazi fields, near the border between Kazakstan and Russia. OVL has a 15% stake in the former and 10% stake in the latter.
A contingent of the defence ministry's military engineering services is currently building a runway at Ayni that can handle fighter and transport aircraft. They are also constructing hangars and accommodation on the base for troops.
Tajikistan is doing well economically, albeit from the position of being the poorest republic in the FSU. This is by no means just due to foreign aid, but to a series of reforms, which have received handsome endorsement by the IMF.
Tajikistan's 7 per cent economic growth rate, fiscal discipline and anti-poverty measures received high marks on November 13th, from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But IMF Managing Director, Horst Koehler, who met with Tajikistan's President, Emomali Rakhmonov, urged government officials to "intensify their efforts" to wrestle down inflation, now at 12 to 15 per cent. That figure, however, was considerable lower than three years ago.
Koehler said recent restructuring of the National Bank of Tajikistan should help address inflation and "strengthen the implementation of monetary policy." The central Asian country has experienced an "impressive" average 7 per cent growth rate in its gross domestic product (GDP) since 1996, Koehler said.
The government has been disciplined in spending, has strengthened tax collection and was making new commitments to increasing spending on health and education, Koehler said. "The good growth performance is making an important contribution to poverty reduction," Koehler said. Koehler urged Tajikistan to improve transparency, further reduce corruption and seek stronger regional economic ties to boost its business environment. "Like its neighbours, Tajikistan would benefit from stronger regional economic ties that could do much to promote growth, job creation and a rise in living standards," Koehler said. About US$22m of a three-year, US$90m poverty-reduction programme has been disbursed to Tajikistan by the IMF, Keohler said.
Campaign against terrorism and opium forwarded
The events since 9:11 have not brought just a bed of roses of course. The Tajiks are in the front line against terrorism in Central Asia, right next to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) operates in the north. The non-violent Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (HTI) is showing signs of increasing militancy in the whole region, distributing pamphlets with an anti-government message in every republic.
The Islamicists almost came to power in the early1990s. But their chances of a repeat performance are lower today. The West is involved, on the spot and concerned to contain the Islamicists in former Soviet republics at all costs
The main conduit for opium from Afghanistan lies through mountainous Tajikistan, whence it comes westwards. The opium crop this year in Afghanistan was about 3,600 tonnes in an unprecedented 28 out of 32 Afghan provinces. The crop earned the farmers in Afghanistan and the traffickers, often Tajiks, some $3bn in 2003 so far.
The two issues of countering terrorism and the drug trade increasingly intermingle. Says a senior American official in Kabul to the Guardian: "We're seeing that this issue affects our counter-terrorism interests; it's become more and more clear that the principal source of funding for al-Qaida and the Taliban is Afghan drugs." But it funds a lot more in Afghanistan. It is certainly a mainstay for the warlords who were the Northern Alliance who won the war against the
International help to be sought to build power plant in Tajikistan
Tajikistan and Iran have announced a plan to ask international financial bodies and companies to help resume the construction of a hydropower plant in Tajikistan, a project that needs US$360.9 million to be finished, Interfax News Agency has reported.
"We will appeal to international financial institutions and potential investors and make a choice through a round of bidding with the builders with which contracts will be signed, making provision for the terms for financing and implementing the project," Iranian Economic Affairs and Finance Minister, Tahmasb Mazaheri, said after he and Tajik Economy Minister, Hakim Soliyev, signed a memorandum on the construction of the Sangtudin power plant.
Mazaheri said Iran was undertaking the design and outfitting of the plant, whose construction began in 1980 but stalled in 1992, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the start of a civil war in Tajikistan.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Tajikistan supports stronger Eurasian integration
Tajikistan announced recently that it supports plans to intensify the development of the Eurasian Economic Cooperation Organisation (EurAsEc) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, Interfax News Agency has reported.
"This integration is proceeding slowly and we would like to see concrete results," Tajik Foreign Minister, Talbak Nazarov told a news conference.
Nazarov said cooperation with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, primarily the Central Asian republics, rang among Tajikistan's priorities.
EurAsEc comprises Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the same countries plus Armenia. Concerning Tajikistan-Russian relations, Nazarov said: "There are now unsettled problems between the two countries."
The minister added, "We maintain good relations without any contradictions, and I hope we shall remain strategic partners."
Inekon Group to supply cement mill worth CZK 2bn to Tajikistan
The Inekon Group trading company has won a CZK 2bn contract to supply a cement mill to the state-owned Tadzik Cement Dusanbe company in Tajikistan, reports the daily 'Hospodarske noviny' (HN).
The project should significantly improve the Czech Republic's trade balance with the former Soviet republic. In January-November 2003, Tajikistan exported goods worth CZK 416m to the CR, 13 times Czech exports to Tajikistan.
The contract should involve a number of Czech firms, like PSP Engineering, which is to supply special technologies, and the CZMT trading company, representing several North Moravian producers.
The contract is part of an inter-ministerial protocol on mutual collaboration with Tajikistan, which has offered indirect state guarantees to projects.
Our analysts and
editorial staff have many years experience in analysing and reporting
events in these nations. This knowledge is available in the form of
geopolitical and/or economic country reports on any individual or grouping
of countries. Such reports may be bespoke to the specification of clients
or by access to one of our existing specialised reports.
For further information email: