This year the Tajik authorities have done all they could to confirm their reputation of the most repressive post-Soviet regime: they have smashed the opposition, have ruined the economy, as a result, their people continue to emigrate. Can the Tajiks hope for a better future? This was one of the questions EADaily asked in an interview with Doctor in Law Shokir Khakimov.
This year Tajikistan marked the 20th year of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord, a document that put an end of the civil war of 1992-1997. But the Tajik authorities still continue suppressing the opposition and have even adopted a law prohibiting people to form religious parties.
This law is contrary to the spirit of the general agreement, a document guaranteed by Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Security Council and aimed to establish peace and national accord in Tajikistan. According to Tajikistan’s Constitution, the principles of the agreement should be superior to any of the national laws. Until recently, Tajikistan has been a role model for other conflicting states. But at one point, the Tajik authorities decided to break the agreement for the sake of their narrow corporate interests. And now Tajikistan has nothing to recommend to other conflicting nations.
After the decision to ban the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the Tajik authorities spoiled their relations with the OSCE. Was that cruelty worth of such consequences?
They showed cruelty towards the OSCE when they closed the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The core of the OSCE’s mission is the Helsinki Act, a document proclaiming values like democracy, human rights, economic freedom and security, while the Tajik authorities seek to limit it to combat with terrorism and extremism.
Have you registered any events you can be proud of?
I can’t say that we have achieved any serious results this year. The goals of our government should be to improve our lives, to reduce the number of emigrants, to create new jobs, to fight corruption and patronage, to protect human rights and freedoms. Almost nothing has been done towards this end this year. Our authorities have declared lots of reforms, but we see no results.
They have announced a plan to attract more investments, but our laws are not attractive for investors. We have lots of problems in the banking sector: some banks have gone bankrupt, the others are unable to pay back to their customers. As a result, people are getting more and more suspicious of the banking sector.
In the foreign policy, things are no better. Our economy is stagnant and not attractive to global players. We are involved mostly in global programs to fight drug trafficking, terrorism and extremism, while our own problems remain unheeded. Recently, at the UN, our President Emomali Rahmon spoke about the problem of water resources in Tajikistan but his speech has received no serious feedback.
Recently, Uzbekistan announced a strategy to improve its relations with its neighbors, but Tajikistan is not involved in this process. Why?
Uzbekistan’s former ruler, Islam Karimov, had some disagreements with Rahmon. As a result, our nations were at odds. The new Uzbek leaders are taking steps to improve our relations. We organized days of Uzbek culture in Tajikistan. They followed suit. We have opened business centers and have resumed our air communication. Today, it is much easier for a Tajik to get a visa to Uzbekistan. But we still have some serious problems: we still have to demarcate our border, especially near the Farkhad Dam in the north of Tajikistan: the reservoir is located in Tajikistan while the control unit is in Uzbekistan, but the power produced by the plant is used by Uzbekistan only. Uzbeks are predominant on both sides of the border, but the Tajiks believe that the dam should belong to Tajikistan.
Now the sides are considering easing visa restrictions. If they come to terms, we will get a chance to develop our cooperation and this will certainly improve our welfare. It is time for us to solve our borderline problems. For this purpose, we need an efficient regulatory framework.
EADaily’s Central Asian Bureau