President Putin: Dear ladies and gentlemen. Dear Emomali Sharipovich.
First of all, I want to sincerely thank the President of Tajikistan and all our friends in Tajikistan for the cordial, warm welcome accorded to the entire Russian delegation.
The President of Tajikistan and I held a rich dialogue and fruitful talks. We discussed the full range of bilateral ties, which are of interest to both Tajikistan and the Russian Federation. Our assessments coincide too. The relations of strategic partnership between Russia and Tajikistan are progressively developing, and they have good prospects.
In the course of the talks we substantively analyzed the possibilities for expanding economic cooperation. Here there remain many untapped reserves so far. I totally agree with Emomali Sharipovich — this applies to production and interregional cooperation, to mutual trade and to the investment sphere. It is now our common task to realize the possibilities most efficiently. For this purpose we will have to perfect not only the existing mechanisms of cooperation, but also to create new ones. So we agreed to step up the work of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation and intend to develop the juridical base of business partnership as well.
An important theme of the meeting was our countries' cooperative effort in the field of security and in military technological cooperation. In particular, the theme of giving legal shape to the status and the terms of stationing of the Russian military base on the territory of Tajikistan was touched upon. We have a common point of view: the Russian military presence in Tajikistan is an important factor of security on the southern borders of the CIS, and Russian-Tajik border cooperation is an indispensable element of the common struggle against international terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and trans-frontier crime on the expanses of Eurasia.
Our meeting is being held on the eve of the summits of the Eurasian Economic Community and the Collective Security Treaty. So it is only natural that we discussed the questions which are to be considered at these two important forums for us. We hope that the decisions adopted in Dushanbe will seriously bolster our integration associations and will help optimize their work substantially. We are pleased with the results of our talks.
And once again I want to thank the President of Tajikistan for the facilities which have been provided for our joint work. Thanks very much indeed.
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Question: What hinders the development of economic cooperation between the two countries?
President Putin (adding to what President Rakhmonov said): Our juridical base is sufficiently large and extensive — 150 treaties and agreements — but still, it is not sufficiently well elaborated as yet for us to be certain that the economic departments of our countries and the business communities feel comfortable, in Russia and Tajikistan respectively.
Today the President of Tajikistan raised in the course of the talks, both in the narrow composition, and in the extended one, questions concerning specific projects in the field of energy, and joint work in the extraction of natural resources, and spoke of the necessity to expand our cooperation in the humanitarian field and in the areas of education and culture. I must say that practical work in all these areas must go in parallel with the strengthening of the legal basis. Today we attended the signing of the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. This is one of the specific steps in this direction.
I repeat we shall act and move in parallel, working on documents. On a practical plane, we will act more energetically. By and large our trends are not bad. So far the volume is rather small, but the trends are not bad. Last year the trade turnover grew by 7 percent; in the first months of this year by 7.4 percent. I repeat these are but trends. In order to achieve more significant, noticeable, tangible results, a great deal has yet to be done.
We pin great hopes on the intergovernmental commission in this connection. From our side this commission is headed by Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu. Over the recent period it has acquired certain dynamics. I hope such will be the case in the future as well.
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Question: Why are Tajiks being subjected in Russia to humiliations, arbitrariness on the part of the Russian militia and to deportations? Why is the manifestation of a spirit of partnership lacking and why do Russia's officials and press permit themselves insulting assessments regarding the Tajik people? Why is this happening?
President Putin: Your question sounds provocative, and I think that you know what you are doing. Doing it, evidently, not badly. In essence, the problem is that Tajikistan, regrettably, is a transshipment base for narcotics to Western Europe. And Russia, just as Tajikistan, suffers a lot from this drug trafficking. This is the first thing which evokes special attention to the labor emigrants from Tajikistan. And people, of course, know this. It's the first problem.
A second problem is the unsettled nature of Russian legislation itself.
And the third problem is this. I mentioned that we need, at the bilateral level, to strengthen the juridical base. So now, and here we should by all means make terms, and in the near future, sign an agreement on labor migration. Russia is really interested in an influx, particularly of Russian speakers, to the branches of the Russian economy where there are not enough working hands in Russia itself. We today discussed this theme with the colleagues, and they also understand it. Russia will attract labor resources where the Russian economy needs them. This has to be appropriately handled on a bilateral level. People under no circumstances should be subjected to humiliations.
With regard to the press, it, just as in any other democratic country, varies. There is a serious, analytical one. There is also a yellow press, regrettably. It's the pluses and minuses of the free mass media. We do not control these mass media, do not intend to control them, but the official position of the Russian authorities will consist of settling these labor relations with all the CIS countries, including Tajikistan. In this sense, Tajikistan is in an absolutely equal position with all, except for one problem from which Tajikistan itself suffers — it's the problem of drug trafficking. We discussed that with the President. Just now your Russian colleague put this question. We think that a solution to this highly important question can be found only by joint efforts, together with the special forces of Tajikistan and together with the colleagues who are working on the border. In this direction we shall move on. And we also hope to prepare the labor migration agreement by this May already.
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Question: What do Russia and Tajikistan intend to undertake to enhance the effectiveness of the CIS?
President Putin: You know in what conditions the CIS was created. And the result of its work is also known. I will not give an overall assessment right now, but at the same time I want to stress that, in my deep conviction, despite the low effectiveness of the CIS, particularly in the economic sphere, the organization is extremely needed. At least, for the coordination of positions. Extremely needed.
But, of course, this work must be filled with deep content, above all, in the economic domain. You know that CIS Chairman Leonid Danilovich Kuchma has made a number of proposals in this direction. We intend to discuss them at a Petersburg meeting at the end of this May. We will move along all the tracks: with regard to bilateral contacts, as we do with Belarus; with respect to multilateral, as, for example, in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community. We will work in the CIS as a whole. We will advance where the advance is possible. I am confident that there will be results.