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Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are strategic partners?
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 25-08-2018
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is now strategic partners. The corresponding agreement was signed following the talks, presidents Emomali Rahmon and Shavkat Mirzieev on 17 August in Tashkent. This is the first in the last 17 years the state visit of the Tajik leader to Uzbekistan. The parties also agreed on joint construction of two hydropower plants in the Tajik part of Zarafshan river. Meanwhile, the main issue on the Rogun hydropower plant - remains unresolved.

This is a return visit of President Emomali Rahmon in Uzbekistan. We will remind, in March of this year, the Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoev visited Dushanbe. "I have warm memories of your state visit to Tajikistan in March this year. He restored relations between our countries, gave a powerful impetus to development of cooperation in various fields. Thanks to your effective foreign policy increasingly growing authority of Uzbekistan in the international community. In your country people's lives are also undergoing big changes. I think my state visit is very important for our peoples", – said Rahmon at the talks in residence "kuksaroy" in Tashkent.

In Uzbekistan, as noted by Shavkat Mirziyoev, consider the visit of the head of the neighboring state as "an important political event in the history of new Uzbek-Tajik relations." According to him, "today, the countries with tremendous potential for the full realization of trade-economic and transport-communication potential of our countries".

"The main problem for Uzbekistan and it seems that President Mirziyoyev is a dynamically developing on the basis of good-neighbourliness and close mutually beneficial cooperation in the region, able to give adequate answers to modern threats and challenges. And ensure its security and its development not as a Junior partner of any non-regional powers or military-political bloc, but as an equal partner, able to defend their vision of the regional problems", – told "Vestnik Kavkaza" doctor of political Sciences, member of scientific Board, research Institute of Central Asia and Afghanistan, "Iran–East" (Iran), Deputy Director of the Center for strategic estimates and forecasts (Russia) Igor Pankratenko.

Changes that have occurred over the past year between the two countries, indeed, essential. Was solved extremely painful bilateral visa issue, the demarcation and delimitation of borders, the launch of new rail and bus routes, the opening of more checkpoints. Between the two countries established the regime of free trade. Increasing the volume of mutual trade turnover. In the first half of the current year the volume of bilateral trade has grown by 35.1%. Uzbekistan is expected to increase trade by 2020 to $ 500 billion.
Fundamentally important was the decision on the issue of Farkhad hydropower plant on the border of the two countries, create conditions for the settlement of the question of the Rogun HPP, the construction of which in Tajikistan is now actively underway. However, judging by the fact that the question was not raised in the course of this visit, the parties were unable to find him a mutually acceptable solution.
However, several leading experts in the field of hydropower and use of water and energy resources believe that the policy has already come into conflict with the economy and cooperation between the two countries to a drain of the Vakhsh, would be beneficial to all. "The Rogun project was developed in the Soviet period in Tashkent, the Central Asian branch of the Institute "Hydroproject". In addition to supplying water to turbines for power generation, reservoir HPP with a capacity of 13 cubic km provided for the storage of water for irrigation of tens of thousands of hectares of new lands in Uzbekistan, in the lower reaches of the Amu-Darya," he said, "Vestnik Kavkaza" expert on Tajikistan Andrew Grabs. In his opinion, this issue could be discussed during the talks in Tashkent. As a result of discussions the parties will be able to remove the fears of Uzbekistan that the filling of the reservoir will be deprived of "downstream" irrigation water by creating a small joint monitoring group of hydrologists, controlling the flow of water in the reservoir and discharges it. Tajikistan has repeatedly officially declared that will not leave neighbors without water. It is also possible that, after weighing all the "pros" and "cons" of Uzbekistan not only agree on the project of Rogun, but will also offer its participation in financing the completion of the Rogun hydropower plant.

"It is obvious that the unsolved problems in this field to anything good will not. The fact that the population of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has already exceeded 40 million people and continues to grow by about 800 thousand people per year, and the area of irrigated arable land per person is already on precritical level. The social upheavals associated with population growth, do not need anyone to the leadership of both countries understands. The world practice knows examples of agreements on section of water resources – on the European shores of the Danube river, there are 10 countries that have been able to negotiate. So expect progress by the parties to reach agreement on this topic – not science fiction," said Gripper.

Did the leaders of the two countries to remove trade and economic barriers, is not yet known. While in Dushanbe, Mirziyoev said that "the current trade turnover does not correspond to the potential of the two countries, there are significant untapped opportunities to bring it to $ 1 billion" . Tashkent in the framework of pre-export financing allocated Dushanbe 100 million dollars. in order to Tajik Uzbek importers purchased products. However, the entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan stood Tajik customs, limiting the import of food products. The Ministry of foreign trade of Uzbekistan called the restriction of the Uzbek import a violation by Tajikistan of the free trade agreement between the countries. The parties undertook not to apply customs duties, taxes and charges and to introduce quantitative restrictions on export/import of goods, passing the customs territory of one of the Contracting countries. Therefore, optimistic expectations of the Uzbek authorities to increase turnover in the current year did not materialize. According to the forecast of experts, the turnover for the year will be at the optimistic scenario is about $ 140 million. In average is 120-125 million dollars.

"Tashkent has repeatedly expressed interest in a more active presence in the markets of Tajikistan, including the establishment of joint enterprises and expansion of the commodity nomenclature of its imports. However, Dushanbe artificially slows down this process, preventing the penetration of Uzbek businesses in the country. Government officials openly given to understand that economic relations with Tashkent are ready to promoted only in the agricultural sector and tourism", – said to "Vestnik Kavkaza" Pankratenko. In particular, Uzbekistan has 39 enterprises with participation of the Tajik capital, but Tajikistan's eight companies, created by the Uzbek investors. Perhaps the situation will change after the Tashkent business forum, the results of which were signed export contracts for 103 million dollars.

Experts believe that Dushanbe continues to maintain a very cautious attitude to Tashkent and policy Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the region, expressed readiness to expand bilateral ties. So signed during this visit, Rahmon, the Treaty on strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is rather declarative. The more optimistic assessment was expressed by the head of the analytical group of the Center for the study of Central Asia and Caucasus Institute of Oriental studies of the RAS , Stanislav Pritchin. He called the visit of President Emomali Rakhmon in Tashkent "historic" and "merit Shavkat Mirziyoyev".

"Everything from the meeting of the Tajik President at the airport in Tashkent and constructive talks in a friendly atmosphere and ending with the signing of the documents was possible thanks to the new policy of Uzbekistan. Shavkat Mirziyoev he headed for constructive cooperation with its neighbors, even despite the fact that the two countries had a lot of difficulties. However, a number of unresolved issues remain. For example, the construction in Tajikistan of the Rogun hydropower plant. But overall, the atmosphere that exists between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which are important for regional cooperation", – said to "Vestnik Kavkaza" Stanislav Pritchin.


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