In the second half of January, the visit of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran ended. Regarding the political part of this visit, I would like to note the fact that it took place in an international situation that is not simple for Iran. The world community intends to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in the UN Security Council and adopt economic sanctions against this country. It should be noted that an invitation from the Iranian authorities to visit Tehran, Emomali Rakhmonov received to attend the summit of three Persian-speaking countries - Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
But, just a few hours before the summit, Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, postponed his visit to Tehran. Regional and world media about the reasons for such a decision Karzai put forward different versions - from bad weather, to US pressure on the president of Afghanistan so that the latter refused to fly to Tehran. One way or another, according to Tajik political analysts, Emomali Rakhmonov was in this situation in the win. Firstly, he provided even a small, but definite political support to his Iranian counterpart, and, secondly, this visit will indeed assist in expanding economic ties between the two countries.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will do its utmost to promote the development and progress of Tajikistan," said the spiritual leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, during a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, according to Iranian news agency IRNA. Ayatollah Khamenei called the people and the leadership of Iran "sincere friends of the people of Tajikistan." IRNA also reports that during the visit, eight documents on cooperation in various fields were signed between the two countries. Iran and Tajikistan signed the Agreement on the Simplification of Bank Lending, as well as Memorandums of Understanding in the field of standards, transport, freight, energy and foreign policy. In addition, an agreement was signed on a project to build the Sangtuda-2 HPP in southern Tajikistan, for which Iran allocated a preferential loan in the amount of $ 180 million. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Emomali Rakhmonov also signed a joint Declaration on the development of relations and cooperation between Iran and Tajikistan.
According to Tajik economists, the signing of the General Agreement on the start of construction of the Sangtuda HPP-2 is the most significant achievement of Rakhmonov’s visit to Tehran. But do not forget that the Iranian side also finances the construction of the Anzob tunnel, which will provide year-round ground communication between the northern and central parts of Tajikistan. Iran has allocated about $ 26 million for the construction of this object, of which $ 5 million - as a grant. But Tajikistan hopes that over time these debts will be written off by Iran. Emomali Rakhmonov, on the eve of his visit to Tehran, told reporters that he intended to discuss with Tehran official issues of restructuring Tajik debt to this country. By the way, according to the Ministry of Finance of Tajikistan, the volume of Tajik debt to Iran is $ 25 million.
On the other hand, according to the Ministry of Economy and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan, in 2005 the volume of trade between Iran and Tajikistan was $ 67 million. This figure is $ 11 million. more than in 2004. But, at the same time, a few years earlier, this figure was $ 90 million. According to the Iranian embassy in Tajikistan, at present, about 50 Iranian entrepreneurs in this country have their own business. According to Professor Hodzhimuhammad Umarov, a Tajik economist, this figure is very low for the development of economic relations between the two countries. According to him, in Tajikistan, compared to other countries in the region, the presence of Iranian capital is insignificant. The main reason, according to Umarov, is the unstable political situation of the 90s in Tajikistan, when the pioneers of the private sector of the Iranian economy were disappointed in the conditions of doing business in Tajikistan. According to him, in those years, Iranian businessmen were frightened by total corruption in Tajikistan. But, Saifullo Safarov, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the country, believes that after gaining independence in Tajikistan in 1991, Iran paid more attention to the development of cultural ties. According to him, “in those years, the ideological component prevailed in Iran’s policy toward Tajikistan.” Now, according to Safarov, Iran has begun to pay more attention to Tajikistan and other countries in the region due to the intensified struggle of the superpowers for geopolitical interests in Central Asia. In turn, Umarov believes that “Iran has not yet decided on its geopolitical interests. Probably, the Iranian leadership is dominated by more religious beliefs than language and cultural communities. ” In his opinion, “the integration processes between the countries of Central Asia through the fault of individual countries in the region have stalled and now is the time for Tajikistan to move towards integration with other Persian-speaking countries.” He invites the authorities to consider the creation of a single economic space between Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. According to Umarov, Iran as one and regional powers should bear a great responsibility for the development of relations with Persian-speaking countries. But, Safarov is convinced that, despite the great potential of the Iranian economy, there are enough unresolved social and other problems in this country. Therefore, Iran is not able, by postponing the solution of its problems, to tackle the problems of its “blood” neighbors.
According to Tajik experts, Iran could invest in the construction of the largest Dashtidjum hydropower station on the Pyanj River, which separates Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The implementation of this project, which is estimated at about $ 3.5 billion, could indeed become an essential link for the integration of the economies of the three Persian-speaking countries. But, judging by the results of Rakhmonov’s talks in Tehran, this issue was not considered. At the same time, according to the Ministry of Energy of Tajikistan, American companies are strongly interested in this project. But the Americans are not the only rivals of Iran in the Central Asian region. Turkey also intends to participate in the struggle for influence. Moreover, Iran is a historical rival of Turkey. For example, in recent years, Turkish businessmen have shown more and more interest in the Tajik economy. At the end of 2005, Mehmet Oydin, the State Minister of Turkey, signed in Dushanbe with the Tajik side a Memorandum of Intent to build three hydropower stations on the Pyanj with a total value of $ 3.5 billion.