President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, media representatives,
The President of Tajikistan and I have had substantive talks during his state visit. I have already indicated just how significant and meaningful such visits are. The fact that this is a state visit makes it the high point of our interactions, the culmination of the development of our relations in all their various aspects.
As befits a relationship between strategic partners, our conversations and the exchange of views that began yesterday during informal talks in Moscow were both informative and trust-based. We discussed all the issues that we consider relevant. And as a result we came to a simple conclusion: there are no unresolved problems between us and the prospects for future cooperation are good in every area where we have mutual interests.
One of our main subjects was economic cooperation. Naturally we paid a lot of attention to this. Even in the face of global crisis and the decline that has occurred in our economies, we continue to work together in areas critical for our countries, areas such as hydroelectric power, oil and gas, mining, metallurgy, food production and agriculture.
Some of our major domestic companies are active in Tajikistan including INTER RAO UES, Gazprom, VimpelCom, MegaFon and many others. And what we're talking about here are not just vague plans for eventual cooperation but significant results that have already been achieved. In any case, this year features a very important, much anticipated event: in July the Sangtuda-1 Hydroelectric Power Station was inaugurated. We consider this to be a very significant event in the history of our relations in recent years. We intend to continue our work in other areas, including the work we started last year to prepare and subsequently construct a series of low power hydroelectric plants on various rivers in Tajikistan. We believe that all of these projects are bound up together like links in a chain.
Russia's business activities in Tajikistan's market for petroleum products, mobile communications, construction and other industries are expanding. Opportunities in the gas sector have been quite actively pursued, with all the relevant decision already prepared and made. We need to pick up the pace of this work. We were briefed on the current situation: a significant part of the groundwork has already been laid. We intend to pursue this matter further in view of the fact that the President of Tajikistan is giving it so much of his attention. This will take the form of special documents prepared at our request in order to facilitate work in this area.
Our countries traditionally enjoy strong ties in the cultural sphere. In September this year the Dushanbe branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University admitted its first students who will pursue a degree in applied mathematics and computer technology, and international relations. Of course we are keen to expand these educational ties. We have agreed to open two more branches of Russian universities next year: Moscow Power Engineering Institute and Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. This is what we plan to do in the short term.
Russia is ready to provide educational institutions in Tajikistan with study materials on Russian language and other subjects, and with literature. We are helping train Tajikistan's Russian language teachers and we will continue to do everything to strengthen our close ties in the cultural and educational spheres.
Incidentally, I should point out that Tajikistan is increasingly involved in multilateral cultural projects within the Commonwealth [of Independent States]. A month ago we participated in the 4th Annual Forum of CIS Intelligentsia in Chisinau [in Moldova]. Next year the Forum will be held in Moscow.
In addition to these specific cultural and educational issues, we discussed a range of other very important matters. In particular, we considered the issue of improving migration rules. This area is very important given the fact that there are a large number of citizens of Tajikistan working in Russia. And our task is to create a hospitable environment for these people, while at the same time ensuring transparent and effective registration rules and the necessary coordination in this area. We believe that on the Russian side we have made a number of important steps that will improve cooperation in this area and promote clearer, more transparent and thus more effective rules in order to attract citizens of Tajikistan who want to work in Russia.
We paid serious attention to international issues. We are expanding our multilateral cooperation and we discussed priorities for the year to come. We will continue to engage in other integration activities.
In November the EurAsEC [Eurasian Economic Community] summit will take place in Minsk [Belarus] and there we must take a number of key decisions concerning customs cooperation. We agreed to intensify cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We regard this mechanism as an effective one for ensuring stability and security in Central Asia. This is actually one of our effective working arrangements. Yet the Organisation is, of course, aimed at developing trade, economic, cultural and educational cooperation between our countries.
Mr Rahmon and I paid a great deal of attention to prospects of normalising the situation in Afghanistan. We have a similar view of the processes underway there and the difficulties that Afghanistan is facing. The situation remains difficult. Even recent political developments such as the election in Afghanistan have shown how difficult the process of attaining political normalcy is and how difficult it is to create a new state in Afghanistan.
We understand that we need to continue to coordinate our efforts and perhaps create new forms of interaction in coordinating international support efforts for Afghanistan. Incidentally, yesterday President Rahmon formulated a number of ideas on this subject. It seems to me that we should return to some ideas that were put forward and think about creating new forums for our work.
As you know, at the SCO summit that was held in June in Yekaterinburg I met with the President of Afghanistan and the President of Pakistan in a trilateral format. And at the suggestion of Mr Rahmon we met with President Karzai and President Zardari in July in a four-party format. We believe that these types of meetings are necessary, effective, and allow us to solve very complex problems.
Of course, the intensification of economic cooperation in the region is very important because without Afghanistan's full-fledged economic recovery, none of us will be able to relax, problems will continue, drug smuggling will as well and this, incidentally, is another area of cooperation in which we agreed to work more actively and do so jointly and coherently.
As I said previously, the process of countering regional threats and challenges, including those just mentioned, occupies an important place in our cooperation agenda. But of course the biggest difficulty is fighting terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking.
In this regard our contacts within the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] are very important. Just recently, together with the President of Tajikistan and other colleagues, we witnessed some very important events in Kazakhstan, which hosted the final stage of the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force military exercises. These forces were established this year with the active participation of our colleagues. And I believe that the exercises went very smoothly and very well – I have already talked about this. Ultimately, they will be a factor in stabilising the region.
Another important stabilising factor is the presence of our troops in Tajikistan at the 201st Russian military base. We have discussed these issues and believe that we will continue to provide our partners in Tajikistan with allied assistance in accordance with existing arrangements.
I would like to conclude by once again thanking President Rahmon for his business-like, constructive, very kind and friendly approach to the issues discussed. The President of Tajikistan's visit is not limited to this official portion: today and tomorrow our guest will have other contacts and meetings. This is very good because, I repeat once again, a state visit represents a good opportunity to get acquainted with our country – although of course Mr Rahmon already knows Russia very well. Nevertheless, it is still necessary. Each country develops and every time you visit you find something new there. When I was in Tajikistan this year I visited Nurek [in southern Tajikistan] with great pleasure and saw how the facilities [of a space object tracking station] look today and how beautiful it is there.
Incidentally, I just said to the President of Tajikistan that we need to think about strengthening the tourism component of our relationship because there are places our citizens can go to not only for work but also to relax. This is also a component of cultural and educational cooperation.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon:
Mr President, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen,
Of course the first state visit in the history of Tajikistani-Russian relations is an important event that should give our multifaceted cooperation a new impetus. During the visit we held extensive discussions both in private and with our delegations, where we reviewed key issues of bilateral cooperation and current international matters of mutual interest.
In general we positively assessed the development of cooperation between our countries in important fields and noted the high level of our political relations. We intend to continue to participate in an ongoing dialogue at various levels.
It is worth noting that this is our sixth summit meeting this year, something which bears witness to the intensity of our relations. In addition, the current year was marked by a number of events that I would say are of historical importance. You are well aware that in late July Mr Medvedev and I took part in Sangtuda-1 [Hydroelectric Power Station] commissioning ceremony.
This ambitious project is a vivid testimony to the enormous potential of Tajikistani-Russian relations. It is noteworthy that the implementation of this project involved no third party instruments, resources, technology or equipment. It is a 100 percent the fruit of the labour of dozens of Russian and Tajikistani companies and hundreds of our experts.
We have plans to draw on this valuable experience and to implement other hydropower projects in Tajikistan; in the face of global climate change this is a topical and timely task.
We traditionally have close military and political contacts that have facilitated the successful development of our military technical cooperation. Russia's 201st military base, its largest military division outside of its borders, operates in Tajikistan.
There is close and trusting cooperation between our countries’ law enforcement agencies which permits a rapid response to all challenges we might face, and the appropriate joint mechanisms have been created.
Cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres is expanding. At the beginning of the new academic year the branch of Moscow State University in Dushanbe accepted its first students. Next year, as agreed with Mr Medvedev, we will work to open two more branches of Moscow universities – those Mr President just mentioned.
Our trade is developing at a good pace. Last year for the first time it reached the billion mark. Tajikistan has no such trade scope with any other country. Dozens of leading Russian companies successfully do business in our nation, implementing projects in communications, construction, infrastructure and agriculture. Last year Russia became Tajikistan’s top investor and its share was more than half of all direct investments in our economy.
Virtually all regional centres of Tajikistan have air and rail links to dozens of Russian cities. Connections with Russian regions are expanding every year. Today the number exceeds 70. Russian centres have opened in all the major cities of Tajikistan. We have actively discussed the establishment of cultural centres in our capitals.
These achievements are the fruit of concerted action by both sides and we have right to be proud of them. We have big plans to improve cooperation in all sorts of crucial areas, and both sides have agreed to do everything necessary to make these plans a reality.
During talks between Tajikistan and Russia, we also touched on other issues, and discussed the problems of and prospects for our cooperation in international and regional organisations. We also discussed the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan. Tajikistan and Russia are united in their view that the international community should stay focussed on the needs and problems of this country. We support the development of joint plans to facilitate our participation in the economic revival of Afghanistan.
Dear friends, I would like to speak to a specific issue. The media has raised an unintelligible clamour concerning Tajikistan's new law on its official language. The name itself suggests that this law concerns only Tajik language and Russian language continues to enjoy its constitutionally protected status as the language of interethnic communication. Nobody is proposing to revise that question.
We occasionally see reports in the Russian media that suggest that the Russian language is an endangered species in Tajikistan. This is absolutely untrue. Tajikistan’s official policy is to increase and improve learning and teaching of Russian language. This policy is based on the Presidential Executive Order of 2003 and being developed as part of the medium-term government programme scheduled to last until 2014, a programme that is now in the process of being implemented.
To date Russian language is studied in all our schools without exception. That means more than four thousand schools – I mean for general education. Every Tuesday is a Russian-language day in our schools. In the country's universities there are more than four thousand students studying to become Russian language and literature teachers, and there are more than three thousand groups totalling 31,000 students where studies are conducted in Russian.
At one time we asked the Russian leadership to send three thousand Russian language and literature teachers to Tajikistan to teach in schools and other educational institutions, along with helping to publish textbooks and to train and retrain Russian language teachers. Official communications by the President and the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan are issued in Tajik and Russian. There are dozens of newspapers and magazines published in our country in Russian.
In my opinion, all this speaks volumes about the actual state of things. We are clearly aware that for decades the Russian language has been and will continue to be a window into science and a means of communication with the outside world. Many generations of Tajikistanis have been brought up on the Russian classics, and depriving them of this rich heritage would hurt everyone.
The language of Pushkin and Tolstoy, Lomonosov and Mendeleyev, Shukshin and Levitan is one of the world's pre-eminent languages and an official language of the United Nations. It does not have to go out and sell itself; it has always occupied and will continue to occupy its proper place in the world.
In conclusion, we are satisfied with this exchange, in which Tajikistan and Russia have reaffirmed their determination to build on current potential to take our strategic partnership to a qualitatively new level. I am very optimistic about this dialogue that has taken place in the customary atmosphere of mutual trust, and I am confident that it will give our multifaceted cooperation a new impetus.
I have invited President Medvedev to come to the Republic of Tajikistan on a state visit so that we continue this dialogue on Tajikistani soil.
Thank you very much. Thank you for your attention.