Date: July 25, 2017
Time: 16:30 to 19:00 (GMT +3:30)
Venue: IRAS Conference Center, Tehran, Iran
, Former Iran’s Ambassador to Tajikistan; Senior Fellow, IRAS
Ali Ashraf Shabestari
, Former Iran’s Ambassador to Tajikistan
, Senior Fellow, IRAS
, Senior Fellow, IRAS
In this event, the speakers highlighted:
"Currently, Tajikistan’s economic situation is far from good. This is the reason why President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, is inclined toward the Arab countries, and he is trying to get some money from them. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab countries are willing to cooperate with and support Tajikistan. It should be considered that the Americans are also cooperating with Tajikistan, and they have given the green light on some cases to Mr. Rahmon."
"Europe is concerned over the issue that the return of the ISIS and what is happening in Syria and Iraq can potentially pose a threat to Central Asia. Those dissidents who joined the ISIS from Tajikistan were not necessarily the Islamic people, but either radicals or dissidents who became Islamized."
"The money returning from Russia to Tajikistan (from Tajikistan’s labor force working in Russia), unfortunately, has now dropped by 30%. This adds to the increasing dissatisfaction, and can itself affect the economic situation. As you know, without the revenues from Tajikistan’s labor force, which are largely from Russia, Tajikistan’s economy will become vulnerable, and it may be said that the larger share of the country’s budget is provided by these revenues as well."
"On Saudi Arabia, it should be said that this country has been long active in Tajikistan, so it can now clearly spend money there for promoting Salafism. Once, Saudi Arabia took covert action in Tajikistan, and even at the early days, the term ‘Wahhabi’ was considered as the worst curse in the Tajik society. But now, Saudi Arabia has been so active that it builds mosques not only in Tajikistan, but also in Central Asia, and is openly active in this country and the region."
"Perhaps the economic weakness of Tajikistan is one of the reasons that made Iran pay less attention to this country. On cultural issues, Iran should focus on issues that are less sensitive, and on the economics, Iran should have a clear economic approach - not an approach like the one taken under Mr. Ahmadinejad in which Iran was present in Tajikistan, but only because it needed to be there, and the Tajik side also understood this issue that if Babak Zanjani was there, it was because of circumventing sanctions, and the reason for Iran’s presence in this country was because it had not much alternative."
"The Central Asian region has not been considered as the top foreign policy priority for various Iranian governments. Although this was a priority during the presidency of the late Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, this measure was not institutionalized in the foreign policy. That is, it was affiliated with an institution, and the dissolution of that institution led to a change in the top foreign policy priority."
"Basically, since economy is not considered as a priority for Iran’s administration, the pragmatism that is said to be related to the region does not solve any problem. The region needs economy, investment, technology transfer and trade, but Iran has not been able to participate in any of these seriously."
"In the north of Iran, there are five Central Asian countries, two of which are Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with a very poor economy, and 30% -50% of the GDP of these countries comes from the labor and workers who go to other countries. The total revenue does not amount to 25- 30 billion dollars, and the other three countries, like Iran, are energy exporters. They export energy to Europe, to the West and East. That is, they have relations with the North, East and West. At a time when the Soviet Union collapsed, Iran could transit 20 million tons of goods from this landlocked area, but last year the Iranian transit was only 6.5 million tons, because these countries have nothing to exchange with Iran. They have the same market as that of Iran, and export energy to China and Turkey."
"It is very important that the relationship between the two nations of Iran and Tajikistan continue and expand, and we should do our best to have our relations established in the framework of Iran - Tajikistan Friendship Association."