President Ahmadinejad Visit to Tajikistan
New Delhi: President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran arrived here Monday morning on the first leg of his Central Asian tour. The president was welcomed at the airport by Tajik Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov as well as the country’s Foreign Minister, Hamrokhon Zarifi, and a number of Tajik officials. He was later officially welcomed by his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon. Immediately after the welcoming ceremony, the two presidents started their private talks. Later in the day, they are to sign a joint statement. A number of agreements are expected to be signed during the talks of the Iranian and Tajik officials for bilateral cooperation in the fields of judicial, consular, mining, tourism and dam construction activities. President Ahmadinejad is due to hold separate talks with Tajikistan’s Supreme Assembly Speaker Mahmadsaid Ubaydulloyev and the mayor of the Tajik capital. Later on Monday, he would also attend a press conference with Tajik and Iranian journalists before leaving Dushanbe for Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, which is the second destination of President Ahmadinejad’s two-nation tour to the Central Asia.
Tajikistan-Iran Foreign Relations
Following the June 2009 Iranian presidential elections, Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his re-election, saying “your landslide victory in free and transparent elections is evidence that Iranian people supports your policy.” During a July 2009 press conference, Tajik First Deputy Foreign Minister Abdullo Yuldashev reaffirmed Tajikistan’s approval of Ahamadinejad’s re-election, stating that Tajikistan had welcomed the electoral outcome and will “try to develop cooperation based on the [previous diplomatic and trade] agreements inked between the two countries."
Tajikistan’s first deputy secretary-general of the People's Democratic Party, Ali Dolatzadeh, has stated that the international community must respect Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In August 2008, Dolatzadeh said that "the claims that Iran is after developing atomic weapons should be proved at the first hand" before the international community can take measures against Iran. The first deputy foreign minister of Tajikistan, Saymumin Yatimov, has stated that Tajikistan supports the peaceful resolution of the issue and that Tajikistan upholds the "international agreements, contracts and conventions [that] stipulate Iran's right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
In 2006, Iran’s Sabir Company contributed $39 million worth of goods and services to help Tajikistan construct the Anzab tunnel, through which runs a road that connects Dushanbe and Khujand, Tajikistan’s first and second largest cities, respectively. Iran has also helped Tajikistan with the construction of the Sangtudeh 2 power plant project, contributing $180 million for the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2011. The two countries have also cooperated in a number of development and industry projects; bilateral trade between the two has risen from $40 million in 2000 to $140 million in 2007, making Iran one of Tajikistan’s top five trade partners. In February 2009, Iran and Tajikistan agreed on the construction of a rail line that would link the two via Afghanistan. In March 2009, Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan discussed the establishment of joint bank that they claim will lessen the effects of global economic instability in the region. In November 2009, the State Committee on Statistics of the Republic of Tajikistan announced that Iran and Tajikistan has $102.3 million worth of trade and service exchanges over the first ten months of 2009.
Tajikistan and Iran have agreed to boost cultural and media relations between the two countries. The Tajik minister of culture at the time, Rajabmad Amirov, in a visit to Iran in 2005, said that his country shares cultural and historical roots with Iran which "create[s] favorable grounds for developing bilateral relations." In March, 2009, Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan held the third meeting of Farsi-speaking nations in which they agreed on a 24-point joint declaration. The declaration focused on strengthening development, energy and cultural ties. In order to expand these bonds, Tajikistan and Iran stated in June 2009 that they are working to create a joint Academy of Sciences, Arts and Literature. In April 2009, the Iranian state-run Fars News Agency opened an office in Dushanbe. The move was welcomed by the Tajik cultural minister, Mirzoshohrukh Asrori, and was followed by a statement by the agency’s managing director, Hamid Reza Moghaddam, encouraging greater media cooperation to “foil the soft threats posed by the western media against” Iran and Tajikistan. During their March 2009 meeting in Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan affirmed their commitment to working together to restore peace and security to that country. In June, Ali Asqar Sherdoust, Iran’s ambassador to Tajikistan, outlined the regional importance of Tajik-Iranian relations, saying that “Iran, as the most important power in the Middle-East, and Tajikistan, as the main axis of the Central Asia could have a significant stake in expansion of relations between South, West and Central Asia." According to Akbar Hasanov, a colonel in the Tajik armed forces, "there is a need for military and technical cooperation between Tajikistan and Iran.” Though Iran and Tajikistan have held discussions on increasing their military cooperation military agreements with Russia currently bind Tajikistan, preventing Tajikistan from pursuing greater cooperation with Iran. The two countries leaders’ met shortly after the Iranian presidential election at the June 2009 summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Russia, an intergovernmental trade and security organization in which Iran is an observer and Tajikistan is a full member.
In December 2009, members of the Tajikistan parliament expressed eagerness to expand relations with Iran “in all arenas.” Member of the Iran-Tajikistan Parliamentary Group Osman Jan Qaffarov pointed to common interests between the two nations saying, “cooperation between Tajikistan’s parliament and the parliament of the brotherly and friendly country of Iran will develop within the framework of the friendship group more than before.”