President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Ladies and gentlemen,
Our work today was constructive and fruitful, and we signed a number of bilateral cooperation agreements. It is symbolic that Mr Putin’s visit takes place as we mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. I am sure that this visit will give a new boost to dynamic and harmonious development of our relations in all different areas.
Russia was and is Tajikistan’s key strategic partner in all areas. As guarantor of the peace agreement, Russia played an important part in restoring peace and harmony to Tajikistan, and made a big contribution to Tajikistan’s socioeconomic development, and strengthening its national independence.
Over the years since independence, cooperation with Russia has developed dynamically in all important areas of life. The legal base for our relations now counts around 260 documents that cover practically all areas of cooperation, from military-technical cooperation to big socioeconomic projects.
The summit meeting today confirmed once again the high level of political trust, which we value very highly. Both countries give a high assessment of our level of relations and agree that there is much potential that could be put to use to develop them further.
We expressed our mutual desire to continue our on-going political dialogue, which helps us to optimise our cooperation in all areas. We looked in detail at the situation with and prospects for cooperation on our bilateral relations and within international organisations such as the UN, SCO, CIS, and CSTO.
Expanding interregional cooperation is very important for adding new substance and content to our economic ties and deepening our existing ties in this area. We reaffirmed our readiness to continue working together in important economic sectors such as agriculture, textiles, mining, and energy, including the oil and gas sector.
We affirmed our readiness to increase supplies of environmentally healthy fruit and vegetables on the Russian market. We agree that the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation plays a key part in resolving the tasks before us today.
We have discussed labour migration issues. We hope that the Tajikistani side’s initiatives in this regard will be supported by the Russian Government.
We decided to take a number of efficient measures in the cultural and humanitarian, including educational, fields. In this context, we noted the importance of creating favourable conditions to meet the growing interest of Tajikistan citizens in receiving education in Russian.
Today, there are branches of three Russian universities in Tajikistan, and over 20,000 Tajikistani citizens study at Russian universities, including under quotas annually allocated by Russia.
We are grateful to the Russian Government for the decision to increase the number of quotas for students from Tajikistan in the academic year. Other priorities are the construction of new secondary schools in Tajikistan with Russian-language lessons and providing our educational institutions with teachers of Russian, textbooks and manuals.
During the discussion of international issues, special attention was paid to cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organised crime. We noted the efficient and fruitful cooperation of law enforcement agencies and agreed to further coordinate our efforts in this regard.
As we all know, Tajikistan accounts for about 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s external borders with Afghanistan. Our country is an outpost on this line, and this imposes on us a great responsibility to respond adequately and prevent any emerging threats and challenges. In this regard, we paid particular attention to the situation in Afghanistan and expressed our shared view of the extreme importance of establishing peace and stability in this neighbouring country.
Mutual desire to develop military and military-technical cooperation was expressed, primarily through upgrading the Armed Forces of Tajikistan in order to strengthen our country’s defence capability and ensure regional security.
In conclusion, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the President of Russia, Mr Putin, for awarding the high state decoration of the Russian Federation – the Order of Alexander Nevsky. I take this decoration as a symbol of great appreciation for the Tajikistani people’s contribution to the development and strengthening of friendly relations with brotherly Russia.
I am pleased to give the floor to Mr Putin.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rahmon, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
My talks with the President of Tajikistan took place, as always, in a friendly and warm atmosphere. Meeting first in narrow format, we discussed in detail practically all areas of our cooperation, and then continued these discussions with the heads of our ministries and agencies.
I want to emphasise that Tajikistan is Russia’s reliable ally and strategic partner. Our countries share friendly ties that have stood the test of time. In April this year, as has been noted several times during this visit, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.
The President of Tajikistan has made a big personal contribution to strengthening our bilateral cooperation. In recognition of these particular services, it was with great pleasure that I presented to Mr Rahmon today a high Russian Federation state decoration, the Order of Alexander Nevsky. As you know, Tajikistan’s foreign minister was awarded the Order of Friendship.
We gave priority attention to expanding our trade and economic partnership during the talks today. Russia is Tajikistan’s biggest foreign trade partner. Our country covers close to Tajikistan’s entire demand for petroleum products.
Unfortunately, the unstable global economic situation in recent years, price fluctuations for raw materials, and volatile exchange rates, have meant that trade turnover has dropped somewhat in value terms, though it remains practically unchanged in terms of actual volume.
We have been working on putting in place new conditions for developing our trade and economic ties, because we cannot be satisfied with the current situation, of course.
The intergovernmental commission, which is working energetically and quite effectively, plays a key part in resolving our economic development tasks and promoting trade and economic ties. Russia is a leading investor in Tajikistan’s economy. Our companies have invested more than $1.6 billion in Tajikistan.
We have big projects in the energy sector. The Sangtuda hydroelectric power plant, which was built with Russian help, generates 12 percent of Tajikistan’s electricity today and can supply electricity to other countries.
The intergovernmental agreement on cooperation on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, signed today, opens up new opportunities for work together in this important area. Let me say right away that this will make it possible to resolve environmental problems, above all.
There are good prospects for expanding our mutually advantageous cooperation in agriculture. Russia seeks to increase imports of agricultural produce from Tajikistan. Russian Railways last year set a preferential tariff for transport of agricultural produce, in order to help Tajikistan’s producers send their produce to Russia, and is ready to continue this practice.
We had a constructive discussion of our interregional ties, an area we consider very important. Practically all of Russia’s regions work with partners in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan’s economy receives substantial support in the form of the remittances sent home by Tajikistani citizens working in Russia. An estimated 876,000 Tajikistani citizens work in Russia, and last year alone, they sent home more than $1.9 billion, which is close to a third of Tajikistan’s GDP.
Let me stress that Tajikistani citizens in Russia benefit from maximum preferential conditions. They can spend 15 days in Russia without needing to register, and can obtain a work patent for a three-year period. We do all we can to ensure that they have decent living and working conditions and guaranteed social protection and medical care.
The bilateral agreement on cooperation on labour and employment matters builds on our ties in this area. The President of Tajikistan raised other issues in this area, including the question of people, who for whatever reason, have been prohibited from entering the Russian Federation. We discussed this situation. Overall, we have found a solution and will work with the President of Tajikistan in line with the agreement reached.
Our contacts in education, science and culture are all at a good level. More than 21,000 students from Tajikistan are studying at Russian universities, half of them at Russian government expense. This year, we decided to increase the number of Russian state scholarships accorded to students from Tajikistan.
I want to note how much effort Mr Rahmon puts into maintaining and developing the Russian language. We place great importance on this and value it very much. We agreed today to take further steps to pursue joint work in this area, including by developing a network of schools where teaching is conducted in Russian.
The Russian-Tajikistani (Slavic) University is working with success in Dushanbe and has more than 6,000 students. The branches that Moscow State University, the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, and the Moscow Power Engineering Institute have opened in Tajikistan are also working well.
We had a useful exchange of views on the biggest issues on the international and regional agendas. It is pleasing to see that our positions coincide on most issues. In particular, we discussed the problematic situation in Afghanistan, and both countries support raid efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan, and stated their readiness to provide Kabul with all possible assistance in advancing the negotiation process.
Russia and Tajikistan share concern over terrorist groups such as Islamic State spreading their influence in Afghanistan. We are concerned by the rapid increase in drug trafficking and cross-border crime. In this respect, we agreed to step up our joint efforts to protect the Tajik-Afghan border, including by making use of the possibilities offered by the Russian military base in Tajikistan.
We agreed to continue the priority attention we give to cooperation within important organisations such as the CSTO, the CIS, and the SCO, and to continue our work together in this area.
In conclusion, let me thank Mr Rahmon for the warm and very hospitable welcome, and for the substantive and productive talks. I am sure that the agreements we reached during this visit will help to develop our economic cooperation in the interests of both countries’ peoples.
Thank you for your attention.