Tajik Leader Sets Out Domestic and Foreign Policy Priorities


Tajik Television first channel, Dushanbe
30 Apr 04

In a wide-ranging speech to a joint parliament session, Tajik
President Emomali Rahmonov has set out domestic and foreign policy
priorities. Central Asia has a geostrategic advantage, he said, but
needs cooperation to triumph over rivalry. He said action rather than
words was needed to forge real cooperation within Central Asia. In
foreign policy, CIS relations remain a priority, he said, but
Tajikistan will also be looking towards the EU. The phasing out of
Russian guards on the Tajik-Afghan border will go ahead, Rahmonov told
the session. He called for new approaches to fighting terrorism,
extremism and drugs, and condemned neo-fascism and the tainting of
Islam in political discourse. Rahmonov called for fair, transparent
elections and invited all political parties to participate in drafting
a new election law. The following is an excerpt from the speech on 30
April broadcast by Tajik television the same day; subheadings inserted

Esteemed members of the National Assembly and deputies of the Assembly
of Representatives: Before presenting my speech to the supreme
legislative body, the Supreme Assembly, I would like to mention that
the government’s internal and foreign policies are not usually
implemented within a year, because the purposes outlined in the
president’s address, as a matter of fact, are programmes and prospects
for decades.

Tajikistan, as a sovereign country, is at the beginning of a big main
road and its people’s aim is to build a democratic, secular and
law-based state, as well as to set up a free civil society, and ensure
peaceful life and integration within the civilized world.

(Passage omitted: achievements in 2003)

The main purpose of today’s speech is to consider in detail the
country’s internal and foreign policies in ensuring sustainable
regular economic and social development, and the strengthening of
achievements in the spheres of legislation, the development of the
foundations of civil society, and the expansion of Tajikistan’s
international relations.

The continuation of the economic reforms is a necessary condition for
strengthening the country’s economic potential. The key aims of our
country’s economic and social policies are the implementation of
economic reform programmes, the development of a market economy, the
improvement of economic management and, on this basis, the maintenance
of sustainable economic development, a reduction in the poverty level
and the improvement of people’s living standards.

(Passage omitted: in 2003, the government’s work was mainly aimed at
implementing the poverty reduction programme)

Reforms failed to have “noticeable impact” on living standards

Although there have been some achievements in our country’s economy
they have failed to make a noticeable impact on increasing people’s
living standards. The current situation shows that some ministers and
heads of departments, regions, towns, districts, enterprises and
organizations have not yet paid serious attention to the
implementation of the poverty reduction programme. They have also made
mistakes in choosing projects and ignored advantages which would
directly assist economic growth and increase people’s living

Therefore, it is necessary to make effective the implementation of the
programme when choosing investment projects, and special attention
should be paid to advantages that can directly assist economic
growth. This process should be under the government’s constant control
because the Tajik government has received loans from international
financial organizations for the purpose of improving people’s living
standards, and is implementing many joint projects. The money that is
spent on their implementation is loans, and the government of
Tajikistan will repay them.

(Passage omitted: it should be explained to people that projects in
regions are being carried out with the help of credits; credits and
projects should be accepted under preferential terms; extra measures
are being taken; legislation should be improved in these fields; the
structural reform programme is under way)

Bureaucracy – “breeding ground” for corruption

Given that the living standards of the majority of our country’s
people are still low and some able-bodied people are unemployed, the
Tajik government’s primary tasks are to reorganize life, ensure the
observance of the rights of citizens, create new jobs, develop small
and medium-sized businesses and create favourable conditions for
setting up new enterprises which use modern technology.

The sphere of entrepreneurship, especially its small and medium-sized
forms, is developing in various sectors of the country’s economy, but
has not yet found its place, because there are many bureaucratic
barriers in its development.

Individual businessmen, farms and small and medium-sized enterprises
are facing many problems linked with receiving credits, customs
checks, export and import operations, taxation, getting licences,
certification, standardization, registration, banking services,
numerous inspection from various bodies, and unfair distribution of
land plots by the local authorities.

On the other hand, these bureaucratic barriers are a breeding ground
for the further spread of bribery and corruption in the
country. Therefore, the government is entrusted to strengthen the
fight against this undesirable phenomenon in all directions and
branches of the government and take necessary steps to reduce
obstacles in the development of entrepreneurship and introduce a
simple order in this field.

Moves to tackle corruption

At the same time, the fight against corruption will be improved by the
revelation of office abuse cases, the misappropriation of state funds
and the results of inspections by the state committee for state
financial control, and this will contribute to strengthening
discipline and order in all government structures.

The introduction of discipline and order, the elimination of
artificial obstacles and the maintaining of transparency in this
process will result in improving the entrepreneurship atmosphere,
increasing investments, strengthening the domestic market, creating
new jobs and conditions for the development of the small and
medium-sized businesses, which is an effective sector of the economy,
as well as in reducing bribery and corruption.

In this area, the law on licensing should be adopted and put into
practice. During the adoption of the law, issues relating to
simplifying the order of control and restricting the interference of
the staff of state control agencies in business activities should be
taken into account in order to clarify the authority of inspection

At the same time, transparency in the rights of businessmen and the
authority of state inspection agencies should be ensured. Moreover, we
should create conditions by giving priority to the development of
entrepreneurship in the country.

The Tajik government should consider the issue of giving equal
privileges to foreign investors and to national investors who import
modern technology, create new jobs and start producing competitive

Good banking system – path to economic stability

The development of entrepreneurship depends on the effective activity
of banks. Therefore, the National Bank should seriously study the
process of banking reforms and the policy of loans and coordinate them
in order to develop the manufacture and export of goods.

At the same time, in line with the law of Tajikistan “On investment in
small enterprises” it (the National Bank) must start giving small
credits to rural entrepreneurs through setting up credit networks and
help to develop the manufacturing sector of the economy.

The banking system of the country now needs to be reformed since one
of the ma in problems of this system which has a direct negative
effect on budget revenue is the wider cash circulation in comparison
to non-cash circulation. This problem requires serious investigation
and taking economic, organizational and legislative measures.

In the first instance, the increase in the number of banking services,
the improvement of their quality, the protection of banking secrets,
and the banks’ financial stability, which will add to the people’s
confidence in them, must be ensured.

The introduction of modern communications technologies is one of the
factors to improve services being provided in a timely manner, the
ability to conduct operations immediately, the state of non-cash
circulation of banks as well as bank loans. It helps to strengthen the
state budget revenues.

At the same time, the establishing of non-cash relations, the use of
computer technologies and bank cards are amongst the demands of the

The National Bank should set up credit establishments and bank
organizations taking into consideration, first of all, the financial
potential of these establishments and the benefits to the country.

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov hails government’s economic policy)

Reforms in government system

The improvement of the government system is still continuing in our
country. A number of measures have already been taken in this
sphere. However, a single strategy of reforms should be worked out for
further improvement of the government system.

The improvement of the country’s government system by way of choosing
the important tasks of the management of relations at various levels
of executive bodies should be carried out from budget funds.

Tasks which can be carried out successfully without the intervention
of the state should be given to the private sector.

It is worth mentioning that reforms in government administration are
impossible without changing the system of wages. All existing
resources within the limits of the budget should be used for the full
implementation of the law “On state service.”

The raising of the efficiency of state management requires an
improvement in the administrative system and in this process the trend
of putting private interests above national interests, which has
become a habit for officials at various levels, should be decisively

Esteemed participants, agriculture is one of the most important
branches of our economy. We are doing a lot in the way of reforms in
this sphere. It is very important that people are supporting these
reforms. However, unfair distribution of land and the existence of a
great number of shortcomings in structural reforms are causing serious
anxiety among farmers.

(Passage omitted: the president criticizes the situation in the
agricultural sector)

GDP to quadruple by 2015

The government has worked out a programme in the economic sphere up to
2015. It foresees the country’s GDP quadrupling over this period. The
main aims of this programme are ensuring the speeding up of the pace
of economic development; Tajikistan’s early integration into the world
economy and an increase in net profit per capita.


At the time of current development, the progress of every state is
bound to the sphere of energy. We have taken decisive steps to ensure
the independence of power engineering in our country. In particular,
the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Pamirs, on
which 40m dollars has been spent, will finish next year. A new boost
will be given to the construction of the Sangtuda hydroelectric power

We will also finish the construction of the Konibodom-Batken (northern
Tajikistan to southern Kyrgyzstan) power transmission line at the
state’s expense by the end of 2004.

By using grants and no-strings aid from international economic
organizations we are currently implementing the project for
reconstruction of the power-engineering system; modernization of the
Boyghozi (southern Tajikistan) hydroelectric power station; the
reconstruction of power transmission lines in the city of Dushanbe. In
addition to this, there the project of reconstruction of the Central
Asian states’ power (transmission) lines. Moreover, the Tajik
government is currently working out a project of construction of a
power transmission line linking the north and the south of the
country. Talks on continuing the construction of the Roghun
hydroelectric power station are under way.

Since Tajikistan is a mountainous country, it is necessary in
particular to increase the number of small hydroelectric power
stations. There are 25 small hydroelectric power station in our
country to date.

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov lists the places where small hydroelectric
power stations are planned to be built)

It is planned to construct 10 more small hydroelectric power stations.
Tajikistan has recently signed an agreement with the Islamic
Development Bank worth 10m dollars to finance the construction of
hydroelectric power stations.

(Passage omitted: more significant facilities and roads are under


The construction of the Anzob tunnel is under way and preparations are
being made to implement the project for the construction of the
Shar-Shar tunnel (central Tajikistan).

It is worth mentioning that one of the most topical issues of
Tajikistan is roads – or, to be more precise, lack of roads. We have
deeply felt this difficulty during the years of our independence.

It is difficult to imagine economic independence without the
construction of main roads, in particular main roads and bridges which
link Tajikistan to other countries. Therefore, we are currently making
efforts to build roads and bridges in three different directions in
order to bring Tajikistan out of its communication impasse and link it
with other states by opening roads and building bridges which would
have international importance. That is to say, the roads which will
link (eastern Tajik) Murghob District with China; (eastern Tajik)
Jirgatol with Kyrgyzstan and (southern Tajik) Panj with Afghanistan.

(Passage omitted: more about the importance of the roads in developing
Tajikistan’s economy)

Civil society

We value and protect the culture of peace and reconciliation which we
have attained. Because peace and national reconciliation is a great
achievement of our society, and moreover it is a basis for all
democratic processes. Nowadays in Tajikistan there is a legal
environment for a civil society, which means that the basis of civil
society has been established that takes into account the interests of
the whole of society and each person’s patriotic feelings.

It is known that the solid foundation of democracy is indeed civil
society. In our country there is scope for the creation of such a
society, which is represented in the most essential rights of the
citizens, who can set up public organizations that are truly
independent. Non-governmental institutions are successfully developing
in our country. They are most of all contributing to the resolution of
specific problems of vital importance to the people. Therefore, we
indeed positively assess the tendency for cooperation between NGOs and
the Tajik government, and we believe that this tendency should be
speeded up thoroughly. Because the main purpose of cooperation between
the government and public institutions is the human being and the
resolution of his problems. In its turn, the state will support this
trend and will provide scope for such cooperation.

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov repeats that the state and NGOs must
cooperate in order to improve the people’s well-being)

Human trafficking

Another illegal and immoral phenomenon called human trafficking has
emerged of late. Understanding the threat of this phenomenon and its
incompatibility with the exemplary behaviour of the Tajik nation, the
Tajik government has drafted a law on combating the buying and selling
of people and it has been submitted to the Assembly of Representatives
(the lower chamber of the Tajik parliament) for consideration. This
law will promote the tackling of this dreadful phenomenon, which
stains the dignity, morality and purity of the Persian and Muslim
peoples’ behaviour. All these undertakings that we have mentioned have
taken place within the framework of legal reforms. At the same time, a
series of other legal issues are yet to be resolved. The adoption of
other codes of the Republic of Tajikistan is one of these issues.

It is worth saying that over the past four years of its work, the
Tajik parliament has adopted over 90 new laws in order to advocate
legal reforms, and has amended 228 current laws and ratified 110
international agreements. Nevertheless, the development of society
demands the speeding up of legal reforms. The drafting and adoption of
laws is a very crucial activity but at the same time their
implementation and introduction is of a greater significance. These
responsibility lies with the executive structures, the law-enforcement
agencies and in particular with the courts.

One of the main factors for the provision of a human being’s rights
and freedom is the judicial authority, the legal position of which has
strengthened after the introduction of changes and amendments to the

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov urges greater transparency in the country’s
judicial system)

Progress was observed in the activities of the law-enforcement
agencies last year. Thanks to the results of their efforts the number
of crimes committed in 2003 decreased by 12.6 per cent overall, and in
particular the use of arms fell by 40 per cent. (Break in reception)
Along with progress in the activities of the law-enforcement agencies
there are also many shortcomings. Sometimes criminal cases are being
launched or closed without any grounds.

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov calls on the law-enforcement law to be just
in handling criminal cases)

Boosting border control

The current situation demands the further strengthening of the units
and sub-divisions of the State Border Protection Committee. The
committee is needs to increase its staff. This issue must be resolved
by reducing the number of staff of the ministries of defence, internal
affairs and security, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the
National Guard (the Presidential Guard).

The Finance Ministry, while drafting the 2005 state budget along with
the aforementioned ministries and departments, should consider the
need to increase the necessary funding of the committee’s
requirements. The main purpose is that a decisive fight should be
carried out against drug traffickers, arms smugglers and border
violators, particularly against those forces that pose a threat to our
country’s security. Therefore, I think these are the priorities: to
enlist healthy young men into the border force ranks; to further
improve the service conditions of border guards; to provide them with
the necessary supplies, military equipment, ammunition, the means of
transport and professional military cadres.

(Passage omitted: the president calls on officials to observe the law)

Call for fair, transparent elections

The people of Tajikistan have set a major goal before themselves to
create a democratic, law-based, secular and social state. Perceiving
this goal, we must take decisive steps towards this path and create
conditions in order to introduce modern democratic elements widely
into society.

In this direction, the role and position of elections, as an element
guaranteeing the people’s direct participation in state management and
defining their present and future destiny in this way, is very

Although the current law “On elections to the parliament of
Tajikistan” was drafted by the National Reconciliation Commission and
with the direct participation of representatives from influential
international organizations, including the UN, the OSCE, the guarantor
states to Tajik peace and the political parities, the five years the
law “On elections” have been in place and the political changes that
have taken place in society have created a need to improve it. In
fact, the law “On elections” must embody generally-recognized modern
values of a democratic society. The two alternative draft laws on
making amendments and addenda to the constitutional law “On elections
to the Supreme Assembly of Tajikistan” proposed by various
parliamentary factions are aimed at this. I am confident that the
Supreme Assembly of Tajikistan will comprehensively consider the
aforementioned issue and will pass a law meeting the requirements of
modern democracy and ensure fair and transparent elections. I would
also propose that the leaders of the registered (political) parties be
invited to participate in the discussion of this issue in the
committee of the Supreme Assembly. Neither you nor us will lose
anything from this. On the contrary (changes tack). Listen to their

Favourable international situation in Central Asia

Esteemed members of the National Assembly and representatives of the
Assembly of Representatives, the main goal of our foreign policy is
the establishment of mutually-beneficial cooperation for the sake of
defending Tajikistan’s national and state interests.

Trends in the development of the world and analyses of mutual
relations between international legal bodies indicate that the
geopolitical and international situation have become inconsistent,
very difficult and complicated.

The activation of great states has been aimed at increasing their
influence on the development of international relations and at the
introduction of a new world order.

Despite the fact that the Central Asian states have become a
crossroads of global interests, they have become parties to
advantageous strategic cooperation. We hope that cooperation will
prevail over rivalry here. At this phase, the great powers’ increasing
interest in Central Asia, from the geopolitical and geo-strategic
point view, is caused by the desire to be in control of the central
space of Eurasia and the region’s natural resources and communications
networks. That is why we must always take into account the influence
of advanced states’ policy on the regional states’ policies.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that events which will take
place in Central Asia at the beginning of the 21st century will define
the essence of international relations. There has never been such a
favourable international situation in world history when all the great
states on the planet gave united in the fight against new threats and
dangers. This process is also important for the Central Asian
states. If this positive force of the world community strengthens, it
will undoubtedly be of great significance to both Central Asia and the
whole world.

Terrorism, extremism, drugs

On the other hand the world is now facing new threats and dangers like
terrorism, extremism, drug production and trafficking and arms
smuggling – the disastrous consequences of which are known to all. Not
a single state in the world, even powerful states, will be able to
resist this appalling phenomenon alone. In this sense, the
development of a new world order will be a historically lengthy and
inconsistent process. This is because as universal problems become
globalized, some aspects of the development of principles of
international relations cause concern.

First, the fight against terrorism in its current form and scale still
cannot meet the international community’s demands. That is why we
expect that influential international organizations, in the first
instance the UN and the OSCE, will formulate a clear definition of
terrorism and its signs and announce it to the international
community. This is because we think that the lack of an exact
definition of this and different views on this issue have brought
about a policy of double standards. We also call on the aforementioned
organizations to step up assistance in drawing up a single strategy
for the fight against terrorism. This is because Tajikistan, which has
felt the blow of the century’s new phenomenon on itself, has become an
active member of the antiterrorist coalition and will remain firm in
this position.

Second, taking account of the fact that drug trafficking is a
financial source of terrorism, we have repeatedly called from high
international podiums for the setting up of a union or a coalition to
fight drugs. The fact that this proposal from Tajikistan, along with
20 of the most important proposals from around the world, was accepted
by the UN indicates that the modern world has felt the necessity of
its implementation.

Islam, neo-fascism

Third, nowadays the notions of Islamic terrorism, Islamic
fundamentalism and Islamists are being widely used in the political
terminology of the international community and by political scientists
in some Western countries. This tendency will lead to the emergence of
hatred in the consciousness of the global population towards the holy
religion of Islam and the Muslim people. As you know, there are cases
of Muslims being subjected to pressure and violence or violation of
their rights and freedoms in various states. This is a very dangerous
policy. This is because sowing religious discord and the restriction
of Muslims’ rights on this basis may lead the world to religious
confrontation and even to the confrontation of civilizations. That is
why politicians must think about this issue.

Fourth, neo-fascist and nationalist movements have been strengthening
in some states in recent years. We are particularly concerned over the
spread of this dangerous political aspect in the CIS states. The world
has not yet forgotten the horrors and tragedy of racist and fascist
policy. Dividing people according to their racial or national origin,
playing with this political phenomenon or ignoring their threat can
lead us to a whirlwind of new disasters.

Foreign policy

In these conditions the foreign policy of Tajikistan, along with the
consideration of the country’s national interests, must be ready to
respond to the political changes of the world and the region. The new
qualitative phase of the development of international relations
determines the speed of tactical actions and initiatives that
Tajikistan is undertaking in its foreign policy. Therefore, important
tasks in our foreign policy are: the creation of favourable external
conditions in order to press forward with economic reforms, ensuring
the country’s sustainable growth, the strengthening and development of
a civil society, the protection of territorial integrity and the
country’s security, and also bolstering Tajikistan’s deserving
position on the international arena.

This policy will be conducted by fighting new modern challenges and
expanding relations with different countries in the world and
international organizations, and this should be done by promoting
pragmatic and multifaceted approaches. Last year we continued the
open-door policy in our foreign policy, which has contributed to the
further expansion and bolstering of our country’s relations with other
countries in the world. Our aim in conducting such a policy is to
respond to each friendship and assistance initiative, impartial and
unprejudiced cooperation, based on the very same principle. We will
have friendly and sincere relations with every country that
communicates on the basis of equal rights.

(Passage omitted: Rahmonov’s initiative on the Decade of Fresh Water
was backed by the UN)

The expansion and strengthening of our ties with developed and
developing regions in the world has a particular
significance. Relations with the CIS member states, with whom we
traditionally have historical relations, will remain one of the
priorities in Tajikistan’s foreign policy. In this direction, the last
year saw a series of specific initiatives to step up cooperation with
Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and the countries in the Central Asian

We have continued to make efforts to further bolster and expand the
range of cooperation with the European countries. During the year the
Tajik president paid official visits to Germany, Poland and Belgium,
which resulted in very promising outcomes. We must say that in this
direction we have more and more expanding relations not only with
separate countries on that continent but with the EU, which is an
authoritative and influential organization at the beginning of the
21st century. The advanced experience of integration of the union’s
member states is a very bright example for every one of us.

In line with this, it is planned that the signing of an agreement on
friendship and cooperation with the EU will take place in a few months
time, which will raise the level of our relations to a higher
decree. Last year our relations with the developed countries in the
world, such as the USA, France, Japan and Switzerland further
strengthened. Currently, we have established beneficial cooperation
with these countries in various sectors, which is aimed at the
provision of a basis for the country’s sustainable economic
development and the state’s security. Political, economic and cultural
cooperation with these countries will be continued in the future as
well. The goal is to expand as far as possible the range of this


And now I think it is appropriate to touch upon our ties with the
Russian Federation in a clear and frank way, because the global media
has been dispatching numerous false and biased reports on this issue
of late. Once more I am officially stating that in the past 10 years
our foreign policy towards Russia has not changed essentially. The
people of Tajikistan will never forget Russia’s role in the
restoration of peace in the country. As before, we have
mutually-advantageous ties with Russia, who is one of our closest
strategic partners, in the political and military spheres. We have
close cooperation in such issues as the fight against terrorism, the
drug trade and extremism, as well as in the activities of regional and
international organizations, and we have similar views on the majority
of issues and problems. Our positions are similar.

As I have been repeatedly mentioning, despite our continuous efforts
over the past 13 years the level of economic cooperation between
Tajikistan and Russia has not yet reached the existing requirements to
meet both country’s interests. Nevertheless, the Tajik government will
be constantly making efforts to boost relations, first of all, in
attracting investment and bolstering economic cooperation with Russia.

About the Russian border forces in Tajikistan: these forces are in our
country in accordance with a 10-year agreement signed in 1993. They
have played a significant role in the protection of our borders and
ensuring the country’s and the region’s security over this period. But
the Article 9 of the agreement stipulates that with the formation and
strengthening of the Tajik border troops, the protection and securing
of the border areas will be transferred to Tajik border guards. In
accordance with this, the border forces of Tajikistan, as a sign of
the country’s independence, will gradually take over the protection of
all the sections of the Tajik border.

We must recall that of 4,183 km of the total length of Tajikistan’s
border – with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Afghanistan – 2,912 km
is currently being controlled by the Tajik border forces. Last year a
500-km section of the border with China and a 73-km section with
Afghanistan were taken over by the Tajik border forces at the
initiative of the Russian side. In accordance with this agreement and
on the results of meetings between joint working groups, the remaining
part of Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan will step by step be
transferred to Tajik border guards in the future.