President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, friends,
We are pleased to have President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon here in Russia on an official visit.
Relations between Russia and Tajikistan are built on strategic partnership and alliance, which are progressively developing on the basis of the traditions of friendship and mutual respect. I would like to note that our current talks with President Rahmon were businesslike and constructive. We discussed the entire range of Russian-Tajikistani relations and reviewed important regional and international matters.
The Joint Statement adopted following the talks reflects our commitment to promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and expanding our interaction in a variety of areas.
We focused particularly on trade and economic relations. Russia accounts for a quarter of Tajikistan’s trade and about one-third of total foreign investment in the republic, specifically, $1.6 billion. Trade is steadily growing adding nearly 25 percent last year to reach $900 million. Important decisions were made to improve mutual trade and investment and to support and implement joint business and infrastructure projects during the Russian-Tajikistani Intergovernmental Commission meeting held in Dushanbe in March.
Russian-Tajikistani energy cooperation is going well. Russia almost fully covers the needs of Tajikistan’s economy in petroleum products. Moreover, energy product deliveries are exempt of export customs duties.
The Sangtuda hydroelectric power plant that Russia helped build covers over 10 percent of Tajikistan’s energy needs. Currently, the possibility of the plant supplying electricity to other countries is being explored.
Tajikistan is increasing its supply of agricultural produce to the Russian market. Last year, the country increased exports of food and farm produce to Russia by 40 percent, and in January-February 2019, by another 35 percent. The increase was largely due to the benefits and preferences provided by Russia, such as, for example, a 50 percent discount on railway transportation of fruit and vegetables from Tajikistan.
The agreements reached on a simplified customs corridor and on the creation of a Russian wholesale distribution centre are to further improve access to the Russian market for Tajikistan’s agricultural products.
Good prospects are opening up for cooperation in the aluminium industry, which is part of the backbone of Tajikistan’s economy. Under an agreement that has been signed, VTB Bank will assist the Tajik Aluminium Company in funding the purchase of raw materials, and in the future, the Russian bank may also be involved in modernising production and improving product quality at the company.
I would like to note that in our country a lot is being done to ensure that Tajikistanis arriving in Russia and their families have decent conditions for living, studying and working, and that they feel safe and comfortable. This is important because about 1.2 million citizens of Tajikistan live and work in Russia, and the money they send home is a major source of support for the country's economy as well as for their families.
I will also note that the Russian side is providing Tajikistan with significant donor assistance, including through the Russian Federation-UNDP Trust Fund for Development. Last year, $7 million were allocated, and this year – $4 million to help stimulate youth entrepreneurship, expand opportunities for less secure segments of the population, as well as assist in many other spheres of society in Tajikistan.
Mr Rahmon and I, of course, thoroughly discussed the state and prospects of bilateral people-to-people cooperation. We agreed to further develop contacts in the cultural, research, and information areas. The activities of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Dushanbe, its branch in Khujand and the four centres of the Russky Mir Foundation are already contributing to these spheres.
Our plans include opening an official office of the Russia Today agency in the Republic of Tajikistan. It is encouraging to see the high demand for Russian higher education in Tajikistan. There are a total of over 20,000 students from Tajikistan attending Russian universities, with another 8,000 studying at branches of Russian universities, including the Russia-Tajikistan Slavonic University. A total of 618 government scholarships were allocated to the republic for the 2018–2019 school year.
Russia is also promoting the study of the Russian language in Tajikistan. Today, we signed an agreement to build five Russian-language schools in Tajikistan that meet the Russian Federation’s educational standards. There will be five schools open in five cities of the republic.
The pilot project for sending Russian teachers to Tajikistan schools proved to be a success as well; we talked about this during today’s meeting. We are very grateful to our friends in Tajikistan for paying a great deal of attention to this. Today, everyone who have come to work in Tajikistan feels very comfortable, most of them say they would like to stay to continue working there.
In our discussion of international issues, we noted that our two countries’ positions on key aspects of the regional and global agenda are close or identical. Russia and Tajikistan strive to coordinate actions in the integration processes that our countries are actively involved in. First and foremost, this regards the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
We welcome Tajikistan’s desire to establish closer contacts with the Eurasian Economic Union not only in terms of the economy, trade and investment but also other areas of mutual interest.
Russia supports Tajikistan’s chairmanship of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). We will gladly participate in the CICA summit that will be held in Dushanbe soon, this June.
Of course, during our talks Emomali Rahmon and I also discussed the security situation in Central Asia, including in the context of the challenges and threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan. We agreed to continue strengthening our defence, military-technical, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation on both a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Both of us noted the importance of the Russian 201st military base in maintaining peace and stability in Central Asia.
Lastly, I would like to thank the President and our Tajikistani colleagues for the productive joint work and to express satisfaction with the good results achieved in the course of today’s visit as well as in the course of our ongoing work in general.
On this note, I would like to thank our colleagues from both sides for their efforts in promoting bilateral relations.
Thank you for your attention.
President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to once again express my sincere gratitude to the Russian side for the invitation to come to friendly Russia on an official visit. Regular dialogue at the highest level allows us to not only substantively discuss the current issues and prospects of our strategic partnership, but also to thoroughly exchange views on regional and international matters.
Following today's talks, an important package of bilateral documents was signed. Economic cooperation is the core of our partnership, so special attention was paid to trade and economic issues and investment cooperation.
Russia remains one of Tajikistan’s main trade and economic partners today. Last year, trade between our countries grew by 9 percent exceeding $1 billion. In this context, the further effective implementation of decisions made by the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation is especially important.
The Tajik side has reaffirmed the importance of implementing promising investment projects in the real sector of Tajikistan’s economy. We are focusing on establishing joint ventures in the consumer goods, food and mining industries, as well as in transport and tourism.
We have presented a package of 50 investment projects to Russia, which cover a wide range, including the areas I mentioned.
There are also great opportunities for cooperation in the fuel and energy and agriculture sectors in Tajikistan. Today we have signed documents on simplifying customs procedures for goods and vehicles moving between our countries and on the procedure and standards for phytosanitary control. These documents build the legal framework for a “green corridor,” thereby creating favourable conditions for the mutual supply of goods, including environmentally friendly Tajik vegetables and fruit, to the vast Russian market. We also noted the need for the early completion of the preparatory work for establishing a wholesale distribution centre for agricultural products in Tajikistan.
Interregional ties, which are constantly expanding in geographical scope, are another important element of the two countries’ economic cooperation. As of today, about 80 Russian regions have direct trade, economic, cultural and other ties with Tajikistan. We believe it necessary to further expand and promote cooperation in this sphere.
Today the economy in Tajikistan is developing steadily, and annual GDP growth has remained at seven percent for the last 10 years, which is a good macroeconomic indicator. We have set ourselves the goal to move our economy to an industrial and agricultural development model in the next 10 years. This will create new opportunities to develop mutually beneficial cooperation between regions, in various industrial sectors.
Both sides have focused on cooperation in labour migration, with the primary goal of regulating migration between our countries and improving the living and working conditions of Tajikistani labour migrants and their families in Russia.
Thanks to our joint efforts we have made marked progressed in addressing pressing issues in this sphere. It is noteworthy that in recent years, the number of labour migrants entering Russia from Tajikistan has been decreasing.
For example, last year about 480,000 citizens of Tajikistan came to Russia for work, which is 50 percent less than the peak in the first years of this decade, when up to one million labour migrants moved to Russia. However, there are still unresolved issues in this area that demand our attention.
We have discussed further ways to promote bilateral cooperation in culture, science, education and tourism. I would like to note that the Russian information space covers all regions of Tajikistan, which means it is part of our information space, too.
Russian education and the Russian language are in an increasingly strong position in our country. Today, there are over 20,000 young people from Tajikistan studying at Russian universities. The Russia-Tajikistan Slavonic University and branches of leading Moscow universities such as the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the National University of Science and Technology MISiS (NUST MISiS) and the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, are successfully operating in Tajikistan as well.
In accordance with relevant Presidential executive orders and Government resolutions, compulsory Russian language classes were introduced in general education institutions starting from second grade. Many pre-school institutions offer education in Russian. Ten universities have Russian philology or Russian language and literature departments. The country has dozens of general education schools as well as hundreds of classes that offer education in Russian. Therefore, we are grateful that Russia is prepared to accelerate the process of building five new Russian-language schools in Tajikistan.
We commend the results of our countries’ cooperation in the sphere of countering global threats. In the field of security, we closely cooperate to combat terrorism, extremism, transnational organised crime and drug trafficking. Tajikistan and Russia are natural allies on this front, and we support further coordination of our competent departments’ actions in this area.
Military-technical cooperation between Tajikistan and Russia is developing successfully. We are thankful for Russia’s continuous assistance in training personnel for our armed forces and in strengthening Tajikistan’s defense capabilities from the military-technical standpoint.
Tajikistan is taking measures necessary for Russia's largest foreign military facility, the 201st military base, to operate effectively. The unique Okno [Window] optical electronic complex is successfully carrying out its mission, too.
We view the presence of the 201st military base in Tajikistan as a key factor in collective efforts to ensure regional security. Afghanistan related issues are the focus of discussions on regional security. Events in Afghanistan directly affect the security level in our country and in the whole region. It should be noted that Tajikistan accounts for about 60 percent of the former USSR’s border with Afghanistan, this is 1,400 kilometres of the Tajik-Afghan border in difficult to control mountainous areas.
The Tajik-Afghan section of the border is strategically significant in terms of ensuring security in the southern border area of the commonwealth. Tajikistan, which buffers security threats from that direction, makes a strong contribution to effectively countering them.
Experience has shown that the problems in this neighbouring country have no military solution. Tajikistan is interested in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan and calls for peaceful solutions to its problems.
In this respect, we talked about further joint efforts to assist in the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan through political and diplomatic means. We had a substantive exchange of views on regional and international issues. President Putin and I called for stepping up our collaboration within the UN, OSCE, SCO, CIS, CSTO and other multilateral cooperation organisations.
Tajikistan is satisfied with the results of today’s talks. I was very happy to use this opportunity to invite Mr President to visit Tajikistan at his convenience.
Once again, thank you very much, Mr President, and the people of Russia as represented by you, for the warm reception and traditional hospitality.
Thank you very much.
Question: Mr President, sorry for such a snap question. Mr Poroshenko announced that a Normandy format meeting would be held in June and that you would be attending it. Will you attend such a meeting?
Vladimir Putin: I do not know anything about it; nobody has discussed it with us. I do not have it on my schedule.