Russia and Tajikistan - new stage in relations

Tajikistan Materials 3 October 2012 20:05 (UTC +04:00)

Trend commentator Viktoriya Zhavoronkova

Russia is more clearly determining its influence in Central Asia. After a fairly fruitful visit to Kyrgyzstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to visit Tajikistan. As a result, Moscow and Bishkek reached a number of important agreements.

Central Asia has always been an important geographic region attracting the attention of such strong world powers as China, Russia and the US. Turning Central Asia, on the one hand into a promising open market capable of bringing large income and on the other, the presence of the countries in the region having a need for external support, opened up great opportunities for major geopolitical players to go there. Their interests cause mutual rivalry.

Today, much depends on the country which will monitor the situation in Central Asia after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014, because the security of the region depends on the well-being of the neighbouring countries, as well as the opportunity to develop business and to implement economic projects at an almost empty Central Asian market.

Moscow has clearly determined the goals for itself to strengthen its influence in the region. Tajikistan, like Kyrgyzstan, are the only countries in Central Asia, which on the one hand need external support and guarantees a strong partner and on the other has not determined the final vector of its foreign policy yet.

At present, Moscow agreed with Bishkek. The same must be reached with Dushanbe to gain an advantage in the competition for influence in the region.

Tajikistan is as interested in Russia as much as the latter is interested in Tajikistan. During Putin's visit, Russia is likely to put an end to the still open issue of the Russian military base's staying in the country, by obtaining a second important military facility in the region. This will allow keeping the situation under control. Instead Dushanbe hopes to enlist Moscow's support on a range of issues. The problems of hydro-power engineering and migrant workers must be addressed.

At present, around one million migrant workers from Tajikistan are employed in Russia. The country today is definitely interested in ensuring they enjoy a stress free stay in Russia.

Moscow has promised to support the Kyrgyz hydroelectric projects. The support for Tajik projects gives some hope for the certain guarantees of security in the case of construction of hydroelectric power stations.

Hydro-power engineering is also one of the most important issues for Tajikistan, currently having serious problems with electricity. For many years, the republic was unable to complete the construction of a number of hydropower projects, the most important of which was the Rogun hydroelectric power station in the face the fierce resistance from neighbours, particularly Uzbekistan. The Uzbek president has recently spoken about the possibility of a military conflict on the basis of the water problem in the region.

This means that Putin's visit to Tajikistan must demonstrate Moscow's attitude to Dushanbe and promises to bring the republic closer to solving the energy problem, save jobs of migrant workers bringing Russia closer to being the champion having a regional impact and ensuring it as a reliable military facility for the future.