New era of defense cooperation starts between Tajikistan and Iran

An article by Michael Scollon posted on Radio Liberty’s website says visit of Iranian top military commander Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, to Tajikistan heralded the beginning of a new era of defense cooperation between the two countries as they seek to tackle fresh challenges in the region.

“Iran Drone Deal Aims for Afghan Security, Complicates Tajik-Kyrgyz Arms Race”, in particular, notes that these challenges include the Afghan Taliban's return to power in August and the transnational terrorist threat posed by Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) militants in Afghanistan.

As it had been reported earlier, Iran’s Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Major-General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri and Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Mirzo on Nay 17 launched the first production line for Iranian unmanned military aerial vehicle Ababil-2.

Highlighting Iran’s progress in drone technologies in recent years, Major-General Bagheri said in the event, “Today, we have reached a position that apart from fulfilling the domestic needs, we can export military equipment to the allies and friendly countries in order to strengthen security and sustainable peace.”

The article cited Jeremy Binney, Middle East defense specialist at the global intelligence company Janes, as telling Radio Liberty in written comments that "there certainly seems to be a sudden push to strength Iranian-Tajikistan relations and the Taliban takeover is clearly a factor in that."

Tajikistan is the lone Central Asia’s nation to publicly oppose the Taliban's return to power in Kabul, saying it is a threat to regional stability and has sidelined Afghanistan’s large ethnic-Tajik population.

The Taliban, meanwhile, has rejected claims by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon that Afghanistan is home to terrorist camps and thousands of militants, and is seen to be wary of reports that Dushanbe has had contact with the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front, which Tajikistan denies.

Tajikistan has also been involved in border clashes with Kyrgyzstan, which purchased advanced Bayraktar drones from Turkey as well as UAVs from Russia last year.

According to the article, Iran, meanwhile, has played a balancing act. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has described foreign terrorist groups as the root cause of instability in Afghanistan and has called on the Taliban to do more to counter the threat.

The inauguration of the drone-manufacturing facility in Dushanbe reportedly appears to have key benefits for Iran, which has long sought to establish factories abroad to buttress its "resistance economy" designed to counter severe economic sanctions relating to its controversial nuclear program.

The United States issued new sanctions in October intended to punish Tehran for its exports of UAVs, which Washington said the IRGC was supplying to Iran-backed groups in Lebanon and Ethiopia and threatened "international peace and stability."

Iran has also been accused of unofficially helping Huthi rebels manufacture a variant of the Ababil-2 drone for use in Yemen.

But with the decade-long UN arms embargo against Iran having expired in 2020, the production of drones in Tajikistan potentially gives Iran an avenue to both legitimize its drone exports and show it is a player to be reckoned with in the market, observers were cited as saying by the article.

Source: Asia-Plus

A group of entrepreneurs from St Petersburg arrives in Dushanbe to seek opportunities for cooperation

A delegation of entrepreneurs from St Petersburg arrived in Dushanbe yesterday on a three-day visit to discuss with Tajik officials and entrepreneurs opportunities for cooperation.

On the same day, the delegation led by Arbi Abubakarov, the Deputy Head of the St Petersburg Government for Foreign Economic Ties, met with Dilshod Sharifi, the head of the Directorate for Foreign Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan (MoEDT).

The parties discussed priorities of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, the MoEDT press center says.

They, in particular, discussed issues related to launching joint ventures and setting up technology parks in territories of free economic zones in Tajikistan.

They reportedly also touched upon the issue of supplying vegetables and fruits to St Petersburg with use of green corridors as well as setting up wholesale distribution centers in Tajikistan.

It was noted during the meeting that over the first four months of this year, the bilateral trade between Tajikistan and Russia has valued at 476.5 million U.S. dollars, which is 49 percent more than in the same period last year.

Yesterday, the cultural-business mission of St Petersburg also held talks with representatives of a number of other ministries and agencies of Tajikistan.

Thus, administrations of Dushanbe and St Petersburg signed a roadmap of joint events for 2022-2026. The document was inked by Frist Deputy Mayor of Dushanbe, Jamshed Tabarzoda, and Vice-Governor of St Petersburg, Oleg Ergashev.

Source: Asia-Plus

Russia decides to refuse to pay pensions to guest workers due to lack of money in the budget

The State Duma (Russia’s lower chamber of parliament) denounced the agreement on pension guarantees for citizens of the CIS countries, which has been in force since 1992. The decision was formalized as a federal law, The Moscow News reports.

Russia will withdraw from the agreement on January 1, 2023. The explanatory note says that this will save the budget of the Pension Fund of Russia (PFR). According to the forecast, in 2023 alone, the savings will amount to about 2.7 billion rubles. In 2024, it will reach 5.6 billion rubles, in 2025 – 9.7 billion rubles.

Instead, Russia will switch to bilateral agreements with the CIS countries. New documents were reportedly already signed with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Payments on them will be carried out after the denunciation, that is, from next year. In addition to these countries, the CIS includes Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine was also one of the parties to the de-announced agreement.

Deputy Minister of Labor of the Russian Federation Andrey Pudov said that such a decision would only benefit people. According to him, now there will be no situations when entire periods since 2002 fall out of their experience.

The denounced agreement is outdated. Its participants moved from the state pension system to the formation of pensions based on paid insurance premiums. Besides, due to the growth of migration to Russia, the costs of implementing the agreement increased, since it applied to citizens without work experience or with a minimum work experience in the USSR, and such people did not contribute to the country’s economy.

Under the new agreements, the length of service received in the territory of the CIS member states will be summed up, and each of the countries will pay only its part, in accordance with pensions in its territory.

The cancellation of the previous agreement will not affect the current pensioners in any way; the PFR will continue to pay them pensions in full.

Source: Asia-Plus

Germany provides additional 17.4 million euros for construction of a hydropower plant in GBAO

The Government of Germany has provided additional financing of 17.4 million euros for construction of a small HPP Sebzor in Roshtqala district of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

The Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan, Mr. Zavqi Zavqizoda, Regional Director of KfW for Central Asia, Dr. Andreas Schneider, and Director General of Pamir Energy, Mr. Amrikhon Raimov, have signed a supplemental financing agreement in amount of 17.4 million Euro for construction of the 11MW Sebzor hydropower plant (HPP).

The additional financing allocated in the frame of bilateral Financial Cooperation between Germany and Tajikistan, brings the total amount of financing for this project to almost 53 million euros.

Previously the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MoEDT), Pamir Energy and KfW signed project financing and implementation agreements for 17 million euros provided by the German Government, in July 2021 and for 18.59 million euros provided by the European Union, in July 2020.

The 11MW Sebzor HPP construction project is a development project of Tajikistan implemented by Pamir Energy Company with financial support from the German Government and European Union. The hydropower plant will have an installed capacity to generate 77.6 GWh of electricity per year and improve access of the rural population in the GBAO to sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity.

KfW Development Bank implements the German Financial Cooperation with Tajikistan programs under assignment of German Ministry of Economic cooperation and Development (BMZ) since 2002. Previous programs in energy sector implemented jointly with MEDT include Reconstruction of 220- / 550 kV automatic switchgears at Nurek hydropower station and construction of 1.5 MW small HPP “Tojikiston” in GBAO’s Murgab district. The total amount of funds committed since 2002 under the Financial Cooperation of Germany and Tajikistan for implementation of projects in Healthcare, Sustainable Economic Development, Climate Change adaptation, education and municipal infrastructure and energy sector comprises of more than 310 million euros.

Source: Asia-Plus

SCO Secretary General Visits Tajik Academy of Public Administration

Yesterday, the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Zhang Ming visited the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Tajikistan in order to get acquainted with the activities of the SCO Friendship. and Cooperation Center.

Director of the Center Abdukhalil Gafurzoda noted that Tajikistan has made great achievements in various areas of international politics. In particular, it took the initiative to create one of the most influential regional organizations -the SCO, its Friendship and Cooperation Center in Tajikistan, which was established last year with the direct consent and support of President Emomali Rahmon at the Academy of Public Administration.

Ming met with the participants and winners of the intellectual games Model SCO — active students of the Academy.

Following the meeting, the winners of the ninth intellectual game SCO Model, which was held in Khujand with the participation of representatives of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, were awarded with memorable gifts by the Director General.

Ming also got acquainted with the structure of the Academy of Public Administration.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan

Tajikistan Prepares to Attend Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Yesterday, the Chairman of the Committee for Environmental Protection Bahodur Sheralizoda met with the Senior Climate Change Specialist of the Asian Development Bank Kate Hughes.

The meeting focused on the issue of the implementation of current joint projects.

The parties outlined the main priorities for cooperation and the range of national measures taken to mitigate climate change, including in terms of the implementation by Tajikistan. A number of capacity building activities are planned for each of the five main sectors of the Nationally Determined Contribution.

The work is underway in other areas of cooperation, including the preparation of Tajikistan for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held later this November in Egypt.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan

Volume of Foreign Trade Turnover Between Tajikistan and Russia Increases by 49%

Yesterday, the head of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade Dilshod Sharifi and a delegation from St. Petersburg discussed the priority projects for the development of trade and economic cooperation.

Sharifi noted that Russia is the main trade and economic partner of Tajikistan.

He noted that for the first four months of 2022, the volume of mutual foreign trade turnover between Tajikistan and Russia amounted to $476.5 million, which is an increase of 49% compared to the same period in 2021.

The meeting also focused on the creation of joint industrial enterprises and technological parks in the territory of the free economic zones of Tajikistan, export of fruits and vegetables using green corridors, as well as the creation of wholesale distribution centers in Tajikistan.

The parties also expressed their readiness to further expand mutually beneficial cooperation.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan

Special Report: 2021 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) to the Republic of Tajikistan

HIGHLIGHTS

• Total grain production in 2021 (first and second season crops) was estimated at 1.4 million tonnes, about 10 percent above the 2020 level, due to a slight increase in plantings and better weather conditions which boosted yields, and 4 percent above the five-year average.

Wheat production, the country’s main staple, was estimated at a near average level of 852 000 tonnes, while the output of potatoes, another main staple, was estimated at slightly below-average level of 919 000 tonnes.

• In the 2021/22 marketing year (November/October), total cereal import requirements are forecast at about 1.35 million tonnes, including 1.19 million tonnes of wheat, 148 400 tonnes of maize and small quantities of rice and barley. Import requirements for potatoes are forecast at 265 300 tonnes.

• Although wheat import requirements are always fully covered by commercial purchases, after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022, the country’s import capacity could be significantly constrained by high international prices of wheat and the introduction of export bans and quotas in several countries in the region.

• Despite insufficient grazing resources and fodder supplies, livestock body conditions were generally good due to an adequate availability of alternative livestock feed (from food crops waste).

• Domestic prices of wheat flour were generally stable or declined between January and July 2021 and showed an increasing trend between August and December 2021, reflecting the sharp rise of Kazakh wheat export quotations. With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, international price increases could result in higher domestic prices until the 2022 main harvest reaches the markets in August 2022.

• Prices of potatoes increased seasonally between January and April 2021, followed by a decline in May and June 2021. From July, prices increased seasonally until November and declined slightly in December 2021, although remaining about 12 percent higher than a year before.

• Overall, about 20 percent of the households were classified as moderately and severely food insecure in August 2021 taking into account their food consumption, income sources and coping strategies adopted. The prevalence of food insecure households was higher in rural areas, particularly among the female-headed households.

• The mission found that about 32 percent of the total interviewed households spent more than 65 percent of their entire expenditures on food, which limited their capacity to make improved livelihood choices as a significant portion of their spending goes to fulfil their food needs.

• Overall, the amount of remittance inflows in the country decreased compared with the pre-COVID-19 period and the majority of the households who received remittances in 2021 reported that these were used to cover their food needs. The situation could aggravate further due to the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

Source: World Food Programme

Meeting of the Ambassador with the Minister of Water Resources of India

On May 24, 2022 the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Republic of India Lukman Bobokalonzoda met with the Minister of Water Resources of India Gajendra Singh Shehavat.

During the meeting the issues and ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the field of water, including the exchange of experience and knowledge in the implementation of programs related to water management, protection of glaciers and participation in the Second Dushanbe Conference were discussed.

During the meeting, brief information was provided on the Second International High-Level Conference on the International Decade for Action "Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028" (June 6-9, 2022, Dushanbe).

Source: Ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan