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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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

Update No: 317 - (30/05/07)

UN wants justice improvements
Tajikistan must take active steps to ensure there is wider access to justice and it should also allow local and international monitors to visit places of detention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today after concluding official talks in her visit to the country, the second leg of her four-nation trip to Central Asia.

Ms. Arbour met with senior Tajik Government officials, including President Emomali Rakhmon, Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi and Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Rauf Yousoupov, during several days of talks in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.

She also spoke with Supreme Court Chairperson Nusratullo Abdulloev, Justice Minister Bakhtyor Khudoyorov and Deputy Prosecutor-General Abdusami Dadabaev, according to a statement issued by her office. 

During these meetings Ms. Arbour discussed Tajikistan's ongoing reforms of its justice system, particularly the areas of law enforcement, criminal procedures and the independence of the judiciary.

The High Commissioner described access to justice as "a major challenge that needs to be addressed in a participatory manner and in compliance with international standards," and called on the Government to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, after his visit in 2005.

Ms. Arbour also encouraged the Government to provide greater access for human rights monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to Tajikistan's places of detention, and suggested that the country consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which contains a framework for monitoring places of detention.

Noting that Tajikistan has furnished reports required under six of the key human rights instruments it has ratified, Ms. Arbour called on the Government to take steps to ensure that the recommendations made by the experts who reviewed them are fully implemented.

The High Commissioner also held meetings with Vladimir Sorokov, the Head of the UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding (UNTOP), as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the diplomatic corps, political parties and civil society groups.

Ms. Arbour urged the Government to "engage in a continuous dialogue" with civil society groups and opposition parties and to "ensure democratic space for their activities."

She wraped up her visit to Tajikistan on April 29th and then headed to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as part of her efforts to increase OHCHR's efforts in Central Asia. The first leg of her 11-day trip took her to Kyrgyzstan.

New partnership with Russia
Hamrokhon Zarifi, Tajikistan's foreign minister, recently confirmed that Tajikistan's strategic interests are served mainly through its partnership with Russia. "Russia was, is, and will remain our strategic partner and ally. We have commitments to each other, and, on our part, we will strictly fulfil them," he commented.

Nonetheless, his remarks appeared to be designed to deny Western media reports that he was a "pro-Western foreign minister." He dismissed this, preferring to be regarded instead as simply pro-Tajikistan. "We are pragmatists and adhere to the open doors policy. We are ready to cooperate with all countries, first of all, in the context of attracting investment to the country, but on an equal footing, without any political pressure." Zarifi cited the example of Tajikistan's economic cooperation with China, which has invested around $1 billion in the Tajik economy (Itar-Tass, April 18).

There are conflicting signals from the Tajik government regarding its relationship with Russia. On April 13 the Tajik Foreign Ministry officially reported the change of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's surname to "Rakhmon." The Foreign Ministry press release stated, "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan officially informed the countries, with which Tajikistan has diplomatic relations, of the change in the spelling of the surname of the president of the Republic of Tajikistan from Emomali Rakhmonov to Emomali Rakhmon."

In March, the Tajik leader wanted his surname to be pronounced as "Rakhmon." The Tajik media immediately implemented the altered pronunciation of the president's name. Rakhmon also ordered civilian registry offices to use Persian names, dropping the Slavic endings of -ev and -ov when registering births. The presidential press service indicated there would be a degree of personal choice in this matter, although he clearly wants to promote a more independent and less Russian-influenced view of Tajikistan (Interfax, April 13). President Rakhmon wants strong relations with Russia, but evidently also wants to tap into the Western assistance levels that have benefited his Central Asian neighbours since 9/11.

Tajikistan is also receiving increased attention from EU states, and closer bilateral and economic relations are developing as a result. President Rakhmon and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas met in Dushanbe on April 17, discussing bilateral cooperation. Vaitiekunas described Tajikistan as a strategically important country for the EU, OSCE, and Lithuania. "It is very important for stability in the region and for the fight against terrorism, given that it is a kind of obstacle against drugs," he emphasized. Agreements were signed promoting bilateral trade, as well as exploring the export of Tajik products into the EU through a Lithuanian port (Tajik TV First Channel, April 17).

Dushanbe is therefore positioning itself to appeal to Western countries interested in the security and economic potential of the region, downplaying problems within the Tajik security structures while advancing their case for security assistance efforts. Tajikistan's armed forces face several severe personnel problems. Six Tajik conscript servicemen died in the first quarter of 2007. Two of these committed suicide, according to Tajikistan's Military Prosecutor's office. During the same period in 2006 the deaths of 15 servicemen were recorded. The number of such fatalities within the armed forces is apparently declining, although the authorities remain concerned by such incidents.

One area where the armed forces have made progress is in the reduction of recorded military crimes. The number of crimes committed by officers, for example, has almost halved compared to the first quarter of last year. There were 37 crimes recorded in the armed forces in 2006, which is reportedly equal to the figure for 2005. However, the most common crimes in the Tajik armed forces relate to draft dodging, desertion, and abuse of office (Avesta, April 13).

President Rakhmon is fully aware that Tajikistan needs foreign security assistance, and he is also looking toward Washington. On April 13 Evan Feigenbaum, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, visited Dushanbe and emphasized the fight against terrorism, drugs, crime, and corruption as the key priorities for U.S.-Tajik cooperation.

He pointed to the importance that Washington attaches to border security, especially since the pull out of Russian border guards from Tajikistan in 2005. Promising the continued commitment of U.S. policymakers to the security of Tajikistan's borders, Feigenbaum asserted that around $40 million had been allocated to support the enhancement of border security since 2005. Attempting to allay fears of U.S. involvement in Tajikistan he explained, "Terrorism, drugs, crime, corruption -- everything that constitutes a threat to the stability of Tajikistan equally affects our own security."

Given the political unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the strained U.S.-Uzbek security relationship since the Andijan massacre in May 2005, Washington is clearly more interested in fostering its relations with Tajikistan. Yet Feigenbaum was keen to stress the benevolent role of the United States in Central Asia, "Central Asia is not an arena of competition for influence by external powers, and Tajikistan, in turn, is not a target of the USA's geopolitical struggle with anyone," he suggested (Itar-Tass, April 13). President Rakhmon, traditionally cast as a reliable friend of Russia, may utilize his newfound appetite for "pro-Tajik" posturing in order to pursue a more genuinely "multi-vectored" approach to foreign policy. 

Tajikistan will break a US$1 billion (€735 million) contract with Russian aluminium giant OAO Rusal for a hydroelectric plant, after continuing problems with the project, a top Tajik energy official said Thursday.

The Rogun dam, crucial for the impoverished Central Asian nation, has been stalled from the outset by disputes between the government and Rusal. In January, the Tajik government accused the company of failing to fulfil the contract signed in 2004.

Sharifkhon Samiyev, head of the Tajik national energy company, said the government now intends to create an international consortium to complete the project. Russian companies, except Rusal, would be welcome to join, he added.

"There is a (government) decision to bar Rusal from working in the country," Samiyev said.

But, Rusal's office in Tajikistan said the company remained committed to the dam. 

"We don't know of any changes from the Russian side in relation to our participation in this project," a company statement said.

Tajikistan has long sought an investor to complete the dam on the Vakhsh River, 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital, Dushanbe. Construction was interrupted by the 1992-97 civil war.

The country's fast-flowing mountain rivers have a potential hydropower capacity of 527 billion kilowatt hours a year, among the largest in the world, according to international experts. Energy sales would bring a substantial boon to the former Soviet republic, racked by rampant unemployment and problems caused by increasing amounts of drugs being smuggled from neighbouring Afghanistan.

The plant's completion would substantially increase sales of electricity to neighbouring China, as well as to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Russia's RAO Unified Energy Systems is involved in a US$480 million (363 million Euro) project to complete another major hydroelectric plant in the country.

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Consortium to build Rogun hydroelectric dam

Tajikistan plans to form an international consortium to finish building the Rogun hydroelectric dam, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said on April 30th, Interfax News Agency reported.
Rakhmon said the government would give all applications to participate in the consortium equal consideration.
"Hydropower plants, including Rogun, will be built by forming international consortia," Rakhmon said in his annual address to the parliament. "Interested companies will have to make applications to build and we will look at them all," Interfax quoted him as saying.
Russian aluminium giant RusAl signed an agreement with Tajikistan to build the 3,600 MW Rogun plant, capable of generating 13 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, back in 2004. The official ceremony to mark the resumption of work at the Rogun plant took place in September 2005, but Tajikistan and RusAl differ over the height and type of the dam and the extent of incomplete construction and the work has yet to begin. It will cost an estimated US$1.3 billion to finish building the plant.
RusAl also planned to build an aluminium smelter with the capacity of 200,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, as well as to acquire shares in Tajikistan's existing state-owned smelter, which produces some 410,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, when this is privatised. However, the company was denied the opportunity to take part in the privatisation.
"Any private companies, including the state-owned and private companies and the Tajik banks that I've already asked to calculate how much they will be able to invest in the (hydropower) projects need to assess how much they can put into these projects. They'll get ten-fold returns in five years," Rakhmon said.
"We expect investment of 4.5 billion somoni (US$1.3 billion) in this sector in the next three years," he said.
Unified Energy System is building the Sangtuda hydropower plant in Tajikistan, capacity 670 megawatts and annual output of 2.7 billion kilowatt hours at a cost of US$534 million. It is ready to take part in the construction of the Rogun dam, but is waiting for the leaders of the two countries to reach a political decision.
United Company RusAl, formed in March this year through a merger between RusAl and No. 2 Russian aluminium producer SUAL and the alumina-related assets of Switzerland's Glencore International, said it was prepared to finish building the Rogun plant without state funds.
"The Russian side is a full partner in the Rogun project with a 50 per cent interest. In October 2004, when it signed the agreement with Tajikistan on the implementation of this project, Russia decided who would participate on Russia's behalf, and RusAl became that participant," RusAl spokeswoman Vera Kurochkina told Interfax on May 2nd.
"We know nothing of any changes with respect to our participation in this project on Russia's behalf as an equal partner in the project," Kurochkina said. "All of RusAl's activity as a partner representing Russia in this project has, for three years, been performed in full compliance with the understandings set down by the agreement and with the Russian government's support," Kurochkina said.
"We've devoted three years to this project and have performed a feasibility study. Entry into the project by anybody else would effectively mean going back to square one and losing those three years. RusAl is prepared to build the Rogun plant and intends to do this without any state budgeted funding," she said.

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US to provide 50 million in aid to Tajikistan

The United States will provide 50 million Euro in aid to Tajikistan this year as a token of appreciation of the country's assistance to the anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Evan Feigenbaum, said on April 14th, New Europe reported.
Speaking at the conference "The Present and Future of US-Tajik Relations" held to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Feigenbaum told Interfax. US financing for Tajikistan will be no longer be classified as humanitarian aid, but as money for development assistance, he said.

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Russia still a key strategic partner

Stressing that Russia and Tajikistan have serious obligations to each other, Tajik Foreign Minister, Khamrokhon Zaripov, recently said at a conference that Russia will always remain a strategic partner, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Tajikistan intends to stick to the previous agreements between the two countries, Zaripov told Interfax. "Tajikistan has been pursuing an open-doors policy, and I fulfil presidential orders, with whom we have no divergence of opinion. We have no changes in foreign policy: Russia was and is Tajikistan's key strategic partner," he was quoted as saying. Russia is Tajikistan's strategic ally as Tajikistan hosts Russia's biggest military base abroad as well as the Okno space monitoring centre, transferred by Tajikistan to Russia in lieu of debt payment.

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