Tajikistan in search of new partners

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 11 / Trend /

Trend commentator Viktoriya Zhavoronkova

Tajikistan has recently become more frequently featured in the international media. There is a logical explanation for this - on the one hand, significant 2014 is coming when the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan is scheduled. Tajikistan in this question is important because of its border with Afghanistan considered to be the least protected which poses a threat to the region. This attracts the attention to Dushanbe, both from regional players and the West.

On the other hand, Tajikistan cannot resolve the question of the duration of the stay of a Russian military base on its territory. Moscow has suspended funding to its base in Tajikistan and if the parties fail to agree, Dushanbe risks losing one of its key strategic partners. Tajikistan had an awkward relationship with its neighbours such as Uzbekistan, where there has been a water issue dispute for many years.

Dushanbe, which without the problems of foreign relations has serious problems with the economy and is often regarded by international experts as "one of the poorest countries in the region", is now looking for a way out of this situation.

Dushanbe has already made the first steps in this direction, establishing and stepping up contacts with Tehran. Tajikistan and Iran agreed to build a major regional railway, to allocate to funds and the financing of other projects, but it was not enough.

The Tajik president's upcoming visit to Azerbaijan demonstrates the fact that if Iran is a long time potential partner of Tajikistan, taking into account the common language and culture, Baku for Dushanbe is a new, but perhaps no less important partner.

How did Azerbaijan attract the Tajik president? Maybe the Tajik leader counts on reaching agreements such as those that have been achieved between Baku and Bishkek during the visit of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev to Azerbaijan.

Among the documents to be signed there is not a single one to date which could bring great benefits to both parties except the general intensification of cooperation. However, perhaps in the course of negotiations the subjects will expand.

At present the main points of contact between the two republics is the cooperation within regional organisations such as the UN, OIC, ECO and the CIS. Both parties pay great importance to humanitarian cooperation. Tajik Aluminium Company Talco transports its goods through the territory of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, on its part, provides the Tajik side with the crude petroleum and calcined coke produced by the Heydar Aliyev Baku Oil Refinery.

According to State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, at the end of 2011, trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan amounted to $15.99 million, of which exports amounted to $13.2 million.

Azerbaijan today is indeed a nation capable of investing in the economies of other countries. This is advantageous, especially to Baku, as, turning into an investment exporter, Azerbaijan increases its economic power, expands its activities, as well as finds new reliable partners.

Tajikistan today can find this in the face of Azerbaijan political and economic support, which this Central Asian republic so needs.

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