During the September visit of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Tajikistan, a joint statement was signed by the presidents of the two countries and five more documents defining further cooperation between the two states. Among them are a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the field of investment and trade, intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in the field of air traffic and cooperation in the field of culture and the arts, as well as agreements between the Ministries of Education and the agricultural departments of the two countries.
But, according to experts, one of the main goals of Nazarbayev’s visit to Tajikistan was to discuss the initiative of the Kazakh leader to establish the Central Asian Economic Union (CAEC). Earlier, Tajik officials stressed that they did not see the need for such an organization. Moreover, such an experience has already been. This is evidenced by the Organization of Central Asian Cooperation, which was successfully absorbed by EurAsE. Even before the start of Nazarbayev’s visit to Dushanbe, well-known political scientist Saymuddin Dustov, in an interview with BBC Radio, stressed that the main reason for the visit of the Kazakh leader was to discuss the creation of CAPS. He also warned that Kazakhstan would be ready to invest in the Tajik economy only if the position of the leadership of Tajikistan on this issue is softened. So, did the presidents agree or not?
At a press conference following the meeting, Emomali Rahmon, answering a question from journalists about the attitude towards the creation of the Central Asian Economic Union, said: “We are for integration. According to the World Bank, only the removal of artificial barriers will double the GDP. ” However, according to the Tajik leader, several conditions must be met to create such a union. “Firstly, the countries of the region should become members of this union on the basis of absolute equality, secondly, that there should be a single legal field, thirdly, to ensure the free movement of goods and, finally, members of the union should pursue the main goal - to rationally use water energy and mineral resources ", - said E. Rahmon.
According to Nursultan Nazarbayev, “the population of our region is about 55 million people and we all share a common history and culture. We should think about such interaction, which will not interfere with our historical ties, and will contribute to our trade and economic relations. ” He also made it clear that the new structure will not have a dominant country, and that all countries will have equal rights and lead it in turn. Nazarbayev stressed that in this matter it would not be superfluous to use the experience of the European Union.
But, one of the problems is that in Tajikistan not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of creating a Central Asian economic union. Given the fact that four countries in the region belong to the Turkic-speaking group of languages, and Tajikistan to the Persian language, experts point out the undesirability of Tajikistan joining this organization. They believe that the seven millionth population of Tajikistan will simply dissolve among the 48 million Turkish-speaking neighbors. Therefore, the leadership of Tajikistan is invited to strengthen the southern vector of its foreign policy aimed at greater integration with Afghanistan and Iran.
However, Tajikistan needs investments, and Kazakhstan is one of the few countries that can make serious investments in the Tajik economy. Probably, therefore, Rakhmon outlined certain conditions for the possible entry of Tajikistan into the union. And the answer to the question of whether the presidents finally agreed at the Dushanbe meeting on its creation also remains open.
Still, the presidents ’answers at the joint press conference were not as categorical as it was at the beginning of the year at the meeting of Nazarbayev with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who unequivocally supported the idea of creating such a Central Asian economic union. And the agreements reached during the meetings in Dushanbe, also can not be called particularly important. Of course, the signed agreement on the creation of a Kazakh-Tajik investment fund with an authorized capital of $ 100 million to finance investment projects in Tajikistan is a solid decision. But, even before Nazarbayev’s arrival in Tajikistan, it was announced that during the visit the two countries would sign an agreement to finance the construction of the Nurabad hydroelectric station in eastern Tajikistan. The agreement was not signed. The Kazakh side claims that the Tajiks could not prepare all the necessary documents on time. Or maybe the parties simply have not fully agreed on the creation of a Central Asian economic union?