Dushanbe and Tashkent could claim the role of drivers of regional cooperation in Central Asia, says expert

11 months ago Web Desk 0

An expert on international relations Rustami Suhrob notes that after the change of power in Uzbekistan in 2016, the international community could observe a gradual process of thaw in relations between Tashkent and Dushanbe. The main success on the way of rapprochement and strengthening of cooperation between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was the signing of an agreement “on mutual trips of citizens of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan” back in 2018, which made life easier for millions of citizens on both sides.


In 2018, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon was on a working visit to Tashkent, following which 26 new documents were signed. Among these documents, there were several significant and “life-changing” agreements that radically changed the relationship between the two countries.


The expert considers that despite the fact that it is difficult to compare the level of economic development of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the countries can build mutually beneficial cooperation. According to him, Dushanbe can get great opportunities for the development of its economy, using more developed infrastructure (railway, automobile, and air communications) of Tashkent for exporting its goods to Russia and the EU countries, and for transporting goods from China to Uzbekistan.


In addition to the intensification of economic cooperation, there are also other areas of common interest for both states, which reportedly could serve as a decent support for regional cooperation.


Rustami Suhrob says resolving the issues of delimitation and demarcation of state borders between countries, in our opinion, is one of the most important factors on the path to mutually beneficial cooperation.


Throughout the entire period of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the closure of state borders and the individual struggle of each country with this virus, Dushanbe and Tashkent agreed to jointly fight the spread of “COVID-19”.


Meanwhile, despite the thawing of relations, there are still many unresolved “problems” and “issues” between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.


Rasoul Zhumaly, a Kazakh expert on Central Asia, notes that the thawing of relations between Dushanbe and Tashkent “is a temporary phenomenon”. He believes that there are still many unresolved issues between the countries, in particular, issues of state borders, illegal transportation of goods, security, and most importantly, this is the problem of water regulation. According to Zhumaly, when the dams for hydroelectric power plants in Tajikistan begin to be closed, then problems will begin for Uzbekistan, which is located downstream and is completely dependent on rivers in Tajikistan.


Both countries try to avoid touching on unresolved or “unsolvable” issues as much as possible, focusing and developing those areas that bring the points of contact closer.


Rustami Suhrob notes that Tashkent and Dushanbe have enough areas of common interest in order to claim the role of drivers of regional cooperation in the future while maintaining and further developing active political and economic interaction. He believes that despite the fact that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are de facto authoritarian republics, in the case of their active economic cooperation, the lives of millions of citizens on both sides of the border will become much easier, if not better. According to him, economic cooperation between the countries of the region will make it possible to solve many difficulties that the citizens of the countries of the region are facing. It is important to understand that any changes that occur, be they economic or political, directly affect other countries.


Strengthening cooperation between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in fact, can play a crucial and a key role for regional cooperation in Central Asia. Uzbekistan has already made the first move (improved relations with all countries of the region and signed many mutually beneficial and strategic partnership agreements) in order to claim the central link in regional political and economic processes. The changes in the political climate in Central Asia completely transformed the course of events in the region and directly influenced the entire spectrum of Central Asian relations both between the countries of the region and among international and regional actors (Russia, the USA, the EU and China).


As the recent events associated with the Uzbek thaw, the holding of two consultative meetings, and Kazakhstan’s discontent with the EAEU show, the stakes on intraregional cooperation are growing, Suhrob says.


In addition, in the context of a new global crisis (due to COVID-19) and a sharp drop in all economies of the region’s countries, the need to consolidate the region is growing.


Source: Asia Plus