One of the main issues of paramount importance discussed during the visit, was the question of regional security in Central Asia following the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan this year. Tajikistan universally supports active political dialogue to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan and calls on the international community to provide Afghanistan with all necessary assistanceduring this difficult period to ensure stability, peace and prosperity for all its people. In turn, Tajikistan is making every effort to support and participate in the development of the fraternal country.
Indeed, the Fifth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-V) was conducted in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in 2012, which was dedicated to advance Afghan stabilisation and regionaleconomicintegration in SouthandCentralAsia. As part of the conference, a business forum and exhibition entitled ‘Afghanistan – the potential for regional economic cooperation’ was held in Dushanbe. In September this year, Tajikistan will host the Summit of the Heads of States of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in its capital; at the summit Tajikistan will offer a series of measures to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan based on active cooperation with the UN and other partners of the SCO.
Achieving sustainable regional security in Central Asia will be impossible without a combined effort to promote regional economic cooperation and ensure the implementation of vital regional projects. One of these projects discussed in the course of the Minister’s talks with his British colleagues was the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000). Implementation of the project will provide an integrated power grid between the Central Asian countries, namely Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as energy exporters and Afghanistan and Pakistan as its consumers. The expected power of the transmitted energy will be 1,300 MW and will provide Afghanistan and Pakistan with low-cost electricity.
The project’s implementation is an important issue within Tajikistan and UK bilateral relations. The UK government is providing technical support and we are very grateful for its active participation in the course of its implementation. The World Bank has confirmed that it will fund a significant portion of the costs of implementation and construction of the CASA-1000.I would like to highlight CASA-1000 to British companies with extensive experience in implementing similar projects,as there are opportunities for their involvement here.
Inter-parliamentary relations between Tajikistan and the UK are of particular importance in the overall spectrum of bilateral relations between our countries. I would like to mention the successful work of the British-Tajikistan All-Party Parliamentary Group in the UK and to express my personal gratitude to the Chairwoman Baroness Vivien Stern for its extensive activity aimed at developing and strengthening relations between the parliaments of our countries, and the support to prison reform and measures the Tajikistan Government has taken to protect human rights. The issue of friendly inter-parliamentary relations between our countries was noted in Mr Aslov’s address to British Parliament. It was the first time in the history of inter-parliamentary relations between our countries that a high-ranking Tajikistan representative provided information on the goals and objectives of the external and internal policy of Tajikistan’s government, and on the prospects for future cooperation between the two countries.The readiness of Tajikistan to cooperate in the conservation and protection of the ecological balance in the region and the world at large, as well as the protection of water resources was also noted.
The economic agenda of the Minister’s visit was quite ambitious, and a bilateral agreement between Tajikistan and the UK toavoiddouble taxation and preventingfiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income was signed. The meeting with representatives of the business community was attended by leading business institutions in the UK, and companies focusing on Central Asia such as CATBIG, British Expertise and UKTI. Participants listened to a presentation on Tajikistan’s investment climate and there was a lively discussion on improving the state of the bilateral trade and economic cooperation. The Minister highlighted Tajikistan’s latest developments to improve the investment climate and environment in the private sector, namely Tajikistan’s ratification of The New-York Arbitration Convention of 1958 in 2012, and the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisationin 2013. Thus, our country has clearly confirmed the course to comply with international trade standards, liberalisation of economy and encouraging foreign investments.
I would like to note with great satisfaction that the Minister’s visit took place in a good and friendly atmosphere, with practical results that met our expectations. I would like to assure you that we will put every effort into effectively taking advantage of new opportunities that emerged after the visit in order to further expand and strengthen the potential for further bilateral cooperation.