Throughout its 18 years of independence, Tajikistan has made progress in restoring peace, stability and lasting national unity in determining the political course of the country, ensuring socio-economic development and the strengthening of patriotism among all segments of Tajik society.
Since gaining independence, Tajikistan has established itself as a reliable and active member of the international community, and Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, has been the venue of major political events of strategic importance on an international scale. Recent important political events have been the meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summits. Trilateral and quadrilateral meetings of the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan, held at the end of July in Dushanbe, have become a shining example of the fact that Tajikistan is really becoming one of the political centers of the Central Asian region.
It should be noted that Tajikistan, having achieved much success during its independence, has new challenges to face for the future. At this stage, the most important strategic objectives of the Republic of Tajikistan are to achieve energy independence, to overcome its communications isolation, to protect its food security and to increase its people's quality of life.
One of the main natural resources that Tajikistan has is its hydropower. Currently, through the involvement of government funds and foreign investments, a number of investment projects have been implemented. In the next few years, there are projects for the construction of several small- and medium-sized power plants, and the upgrading of existing electricity and heating plants is planned. Along with these, the accelerated construction of the hydroelectric power station Sangtuda-2 and Rogun dam will be carried out.
One of Tajikistan's achievements in the energy sector has been the commissioning of the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power station, which was officially opened this year in July and is of great importance to the Tajik people. Bringing this new facility into operation was a momentous event not only for Tajiks, but also for the inhabitants of the region as a whole, because it will help to improve the region's supply and management of water resources.
Another of Tajikistan's natural resources lies in its subsoil. According to estimates, the country has more than 3 trillion cubic meters of gas and more than 4 billion tons of coal. Tajikistan has one of the largest coal reserves among the member countries of the CIS, and the Konimansuri Kalon silver deposit is one of the largest in the world.
Relations with over 110 countries
During its 18 years of independence, Tajikistan has established diplomatic relations with more than 110 countries. Tajik-Turkish diplomatic relations were established on Jan. 29, 1992. Bilateral political and economic relations between Tajikistan and Turkey grow annually, the development of which have greatly contributed to numerous meetings and official visits which have taken place at the head-of-state level. This year, the most important events in the history of Tajik-Turkish relations were the visits of the president of the Republic of Tajikistan, E. Rahmon, to Turkey in March and that of the president of the Republic of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, to the Republic of Tajikistan in May. The views of Tajikistan and Turkey on bilateral, international and regional relations largely converge as the outcomes of official meetings between the presidents have shown. Both presidents have identified the priorities in bilateral Tajik-Turkish cooperation, namely: the establishment of joint stock companies, the construction of small- and medium-sized hydropower stations in Tajikistan, cooperation in mining and light industry and tourism. Increased cooperation between the two countries is also reflected in the establishment and building of bilateral ties between their parliaments, governments and ministries.
In recent years economic relations between Tajikistan and Turkey have developed significantly and have the capacity for further expansion. In 2008 the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $505.5 million; exports from Tajikistan to Turkey amounted to $382 million and imports of Turkish goods into Tajikistan to $118 million. Despite the global economic crisis, which affected trade and economic relations between the two countries, the turnover of trade still has the potential for growth.
In August, a group of Turkish businessmen visited Tajikistan and had several meetings with the government of the republic and the ministries and departments concerned with the implementation of investment projects in energy, the construction of small- and medium-sized hydroelectric power stations, solar energy and other fields. The group included representatives of major Turkish companies (Çalik Holding, BMD Solar, TEMSAN, DSİ, EÜAŞ) who planned to participate in investment projects for the construction of hydroelectric power stations, carrying high-voltage electric cables and use of solar energy.
An important event in the history of Tajik-Turkish diplomatic relations was the opening of the new embassy building for the Republic of Tajikistan in Ankara on March 15 of this year; President Rahmon attended the opening ceremony.
An eye on the younger generation
Tajikistan attaches great importance to the education of the younger generation. It's no secret that the future development of the independence and autonomy of the state depends largely on the younger generation. The cooperation between Tajikistan and Turkey in the field of education has a momentum of continuous development and growth. In Tajikistan, Tajik-Turkish high schools were established, and these students go on to continue their studies in the best and most prestigious universities in Tajikistan, Turkey and around the world. There are now more than 150 Tajik students studying in Turkey, and it has become an annual tradition to hold festivals for Tajik students studying in Turkish universities. On April 17-19 in Ankara, the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan held the third such festival. During the festival, more than 100 Tajik students from 20 universities in İstanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Bursa and Bolu had the opportunity to become better acquainted with each other, discuss issues of study and further work and to challenge each other in sports and music contests.
Much depends on reforming the Tajik domestic industry and implementing new technologies. The students, as future professionals, will have the task of exploring new technologies as much as possible and gaining experience abroad in order to return to their homeland and make a concrete contribution to the economy of Tajikistan.
In Tajikistan, 2009 has been declared the year to commemorate the founder of the Hanafi religious sect in Islam, an illustrious son of the Tajik people, Abu Hanifa an-Numon ibn Sobit, known as the Great Imam. Teaching about Abu Hanifa historically and practically is an important factor for universal unity and maintaining stability and security in society. One of the highlights of the events dedicated to the memory of the Great Imam will be an international symposium that will be held in the capital of Tajikistan in early October and is planned to host eminent scientists and religious leaders, including those from the Republic of Turkey.
*This article was prepared by the press group of the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Republic of Turkey.