A New Chapter in Iran-Tajikistan Relations
Date of publication : December 15, 2017 22:13 pm
The recent visit of Mr. Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran, to Tajikistan indicates that Iran is determined to strengthen its relations with far and near neighbors and create mutual trust among the old friends in the region. Emphasizing the common historical and cultural background, Iran's policy in Central Asia and the Caucasus is to develop relations with the governments and nations in these regions, especially in economic areas. Iran is one of the first countries that recognized the independence of these countries, especially Tajikistan, and, in cooperation with Russia, played a decisive role in the realization of national reconciliation in Tajikistan and consolidation of Emomali Rahmon’s position during the critical period of civil war in this country. After that, strengthening economic relations with Tajikistan and participating in infrastructure projects, including in the areas of dam and road construction, were on the agenda of Iran’s foreign policy. The opening of Sangtuda-2 Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant in the southwest of Tajikistan in September 2011 was a milestone in the economic cooperation between Tehran and Dushanbe.
However, Minister Zarif's visit to Tajikistan took place at a time when relations between Iran and Tajikistan had reached rock bottom because of the efforts of some countries in the region to disrupt the relations between the two countries and existence of some unwarranted misunderstandings. Dushanbe’s obstructionism in the case of full membership of Iran in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the broadcast of some anti-Iranian remarks in the national media of Tajikistan played an undeniable role in the increased coldness of relations between the two countries. Accordingly, the recent visit of Minister Zarif to Tajikistan and his constructive talks with the Tajik President, Emomali Rahmon, was a starting point for removing misunderstandings and rebuilding friendly relations. This also suggested that disputes can be settled through negotiation.
Following the visit of Minister Zarif to Tajikistan, the Eleventh Meeting of the Joint Commission on Commercial, Economic, Technical, and Cultural Cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Tajikistan in Tehran also showed that obstacles to the expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries have been resolved and this is an indication of the sincerity and goodwill of the two countries.
Considering these developments, it would be hoped that the necessary prerequisites for more consultations would be provided to strengthen trust and improve relations, especially in economic fields. Especially at the current time that Takfiri terrorist groups, especially the ISIL, are seeking new destinations in Central Asia and the Caucasus after their defeat in Iraq and Syria, Tehran and Dushanbe will be able to play a major role in countering terrorism and establishing peace and security in the region through political consultations and continuity of cooperation. The important point is that some issues such as regional security, fight against terrorism and extremism, and cooperation within the framework of regional and international organizations were addressed at the meeting between the President of Tajikistan and the Iranian Foreign Minister.
Minister Zarif’s visit to Dushanbe and the subsequent meeting of the Joint Commission on Commercial, Economic, Technical, and Cultural Cooperation mark the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Iran and Tajikistan and promise a better and more hopeful future for the two close and friendly countries.
Mohsen Pakaeen, Former Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the senior fellow at IRAS.
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