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Discussion Starter #2
Brunei, Tajikistan To Further Strengthen Bilateral Relations

Bandar Seri Begawan - His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has accepted an invitation extended by President Emomali Rahmon to visit the Republic of Tajikistan, while the visit dates are to be settled through diplomatic channels, according to a joint statement issued yesterday.

Mr Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, is currently in the sultanate on a two-day visit on the invitation of His Majesty.

According to the joint statement, His Majesty and President Emomali Rahmon exchanged views on ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries as well as on regional and international matters.

The cordial and friendly meeting saw both leaders acknowledging that it is important to foster closer ties as well as bilateral cooperation and stressing the importance of cooperation based on the principles of equality, respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity as well as mutual interest.

A significant element of bilateral relations, as understood by both leaders, is the development of economic and technical cooperation.

They stated their mutual intention to provide favourable conditions for investment and trade activities and to ensure the protection of legal interests of their citizens as well as properties in accordance to the legislations of both countries.

Furthermore, with the vision to advance the scope of bilateral cooperation, it was agreed that both countries' government and private sectors would hold regular consultations.

All countries, as maintained by Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Tajikistan, have the right to determine their own political, social and economic systems and ensure the protection of human rights based on the historical, social and cultural context of both countries.

Another important point that was brought up in the joint statement was the acknowledgement of maintaining peace, security as well as stability in the respective regions.

They agreed to cooperate and take all necessary measures in efforts to address terrorism; organised crime, illegal drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and other criminal activities.

It was also agreed that cooperation be established in various areas such as education, culture, science and technology, mass media, tourism, sports, youth, health as well as security.

Both leaders also noted their common positions on a number of important regional and international matters, and underlined commitment to further strengthen their cooperation within the framework of international organisations, particularly the United Nations.

They underlined the leading role of the United Nations and reaffirmed support for the objectives and principles of its Charter together with the standard norms of International Law.

Both leaders also underlined the importance of the peaceful settlement of international disputes based on trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.

Brunei Darussalam welcomed' the Republic of Tajikistan's decision to host the 37th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both sides expressed the hope that the result of the conference will contribute towards the strengthening of the bonds, solidarity as well as cooperation among the Muslim Ummah.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang DiPertuan of Brunei Darussalam and President Emomali Rahmon expressed satisfaction with the outcome of their meeting, which was held in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust.

During the visit, an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect - to Taxes on Income and on Capital and a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic, Trade, Investment, Technical, Education, Cultural, Youth and Sports Cooperation were signed.

The exchange of notes on the Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirement for Holders of Diplomatic, Official and Service Passports and Bilateral Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign. Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan also took place.

Mr Emomali Rahmon expressed his deep gratitude to His Majesty for the kind reception and warm hospitality extended to himself as well as his delegation.

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Discussion Starter #3
Tajikistan's economy weathers bleak 2009, better times ahead, says ADB
DUSHANBE -- A sharp reduction in workers' remittances mainly due to economic difficulties in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation and weak demand for Tajikistan's main export commodities of aluminum and cotton were the main factors in slowing Tajikistan's GDP growth by more than half in 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says in a major new report.

"Remittance inflows in 2009 were $1.8 billion, which is about 37% of GDP, a nearly one-third drop from those in 2008. This hit private consumption, import demand, and house construction, especially in rural areas, where many households depend on remittances," says Makoto Ojiro, ADB's Country Director for Tajikistan.

ADB's flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2010 (ADO 2010), released today, says that prospects for Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation will improve in the next two years, and aluminum and cotton prices are also likely to rise. It is also expected that noncotton agriculture will experience healthy growth. In view of these projections, Tajikistan's economic growth is expected to rise to 4.0% in 2010 and 5.0% in 2011.

"In 2009, inflation in Tajikistan came down to average 6.5% from 20.4% in 2008, and it is projected to be 10.8% and 9.5% in the next 2 years," says Qahhor Aminov, Economics Officer of the ADB's office in Tajikistan.

Weak capacity of public institutions, governance, and accountability is the first item on the Tajikistan's development agenda, followed by successful implementation of the current reform initiatives. Though the government has started to improve the business and investment environment, infrastructure bottlenecks, including chronic wintertime electricity shortages, remain a major challenge.

ADO 2010 includes comprehensive economic analysis of more than 40 economies in developing Asia and the Pacific, and examines aggregate trends and medium-term prospects by subregion— East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central and West Asia, and the Pacific —in the context of global economic movements.

Tajikistan joined ADB in 1998, and to date has received total assistance of about $560 million in concessional loans, grants and technical assistance from this institution.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. In 2009, it approved $13.2 billion of loans, $1.1 billion of grant projects, and technical assistance amounting to $267 million.

Tajik government intends to stop official advertising campaign on Roghun’s construction
DUSHANBE -- We have been greatly encouraged by Tajik government’s commitments to stop an official advertising campaign on Roghun’s construction, Mr. Axel Schimmelpfennig, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, remarked at a news conference in Dushanbe today.

According to him, they welcome the government's commitments to strong governance in the context of the Roghun project, including having external audits of the Roghun OJSC and providing regular reports to the public on the use of funds. The IMF welcomes the government's cooperation with the World Bank on the Roghun project, and in particular the ongoing techno-economic, social and environmental impact assessments, he added.

Mr. Schimmelpfennig noted that the Roghun fundraising campaign had a negative impact on macroeconomic and social indicators of the country. According to him, funds collected for the construction of the Roghun in recent months amounted to 3 percent of Tajikistan’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to him, the mission concurs with the governments' projections that equity sales for Roghun will be low over the remainder of the year.

He added that Tajikistan ought to attract more funds for Roghun’s construction in foreign currencies. According to the IMF estimates, Tajikistan needs US$600 million to US$800 million to complete the first stage of the construction of the Roghun HPP, Mr. Schimmelpfennig said.

The economic outlook for Tajikistan is cautiously optimistic, and we project a real GDP growth of 4 percent in 2010, he noted. Remittances have shown signs of strength in January/February, increasing by 14 percent over the same period in 2009. Likewise, exports showed strong growth of 45 percent year-on-year in January/February. Encouragingly, electricity supply was much improved in the first months of 2010, and industry has shown positive growth for the first time in over a year. However, there is uncertainty over the strength and sustainability of the rebound in remittances and exports.

For 2010, the government targets a modest widening of the overall fiscal deficit excluding externally financed investment to 1 percent of GDP in 2010, from 0.5 percent of GDP in 2009. This will allow further increases in social expenditures, including on health and education, while also moving forward with the government's public investment program. The government should seize opportunities to further increase social spending while adhering to its deficit target.

According to press release issued by the IMF Dushanbe Office, the IMF team, led by Mr. Axel Schimmelpfennig, visited Dushanbe April 7-13, 2010 to continue discussions for the combined first and second reviews under a three-year, SDR 78.3 million (about US$116 million) Extended Credit Facility arrangement with Tajikistan. The IMF mission reached a staff-level agreement with the Tajik authorities on their 2010 program. This agreement requires approval by the IMF's Executive Board which is expected to consider Tajikistan's request for the completion of the first and second review at end-May 2010. Upon approval, SDR 26.12 (about US$42 million) would be made available to Tajikistan. This would bring the total disbursement under the arrangement so far to SDR 52.2 million (about US$82 million).

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Discussion Starter #4
Project to support sustainable transport management in Tajik capital signed Tuesday
DUSHANBE -- To enhance the access to and quality of the public transportation in Dushanbe, and to reduce GHG emissions into the atmosphere, a medium-sized project, Support to Sustainable Transport Management in Dushanbe, was developed within the framework of cooperation between the United Nations Development Programme and Global Environment Facility, according to the UNDP CO in Tajikistan.

The project with total planned budget (in-cash and in-kind) of over 6 million U.S. dollars was signed by the UNDP Country Director, Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky, and the Deputy Dushanbe Mayor, Mr. Abdulhomid Sheraliyev, on April 13.

“The project aims at improving access and quality of public transport services for all residents, while reducing urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” Mr. Vrbensky said.

Since early 2000, Tajikistan capital city, Dushanbe, has been experiencing rapid expansion in the use of private motor vehicles, alongside deterioration in public transport caused by rising personal incomes, growing migrant population, and a largely neglected public transport system. This has led to the significant increase in urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that 87 percent of the total air emissions in Dushanbe are associated with mobile sources.

The project will support development of and help Dushanbe City Government implement an integrated policy framework that includes: improving the service quality of public transport, in particular trolleybuses; developing integrated land-use/transport plans to reduce demand for travel ; enhancing municipal institutional transformation and governance structure to embrace sustainable transport; and increasing opportunities for non-motorized modes such as walking and biking.

UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.

В Душанбе подписан проект по поддержке устойчивого управления транспортом в городе
Душанбе. 14 апреля. «Азия-Плюс» - C целью улучшения доступа и качества услуг общественного транспорта для жителей города Душанбе, а также сокращения количества выбросов загрязняющих веществ в атмосферу, в рамках сотрудничества Программы Развития ООН и Глобального Экологического Фонда было разработано среднемасштабное проектное предложение «Поддержка устойчивого управления транспортом в г. Душанбе», сообщает представительство ПРООН в РТ.

«Проект ставит целью улучшить доступ и качество услуг общественного транспорта для всех жителей города, а также сократить количество выбросов загрязняющих веществ и парниковых газов в атмосферу», - сказал Растислав Врбенский, страновой директор ПРООН в Таджикистане.

ПРООН сообщает, что с начала 2000-х гг. в Душанбе, столице Таджикистана, быстрыми темпами растет количество используемых частных автомобилей, вместе с тем, качество услуг общественного транспорта ухудшается в связи с недостатком в финансировании системы. Эти факторы приводят к значительному загрязнению воздуха в городе и увеличению количества выбросов загрязняющих веществ в атмосферу. Эксперты подсчитали, что около 87% выбросов загрязняющих веществ в Душанбе происходит из мобильных источников, в частности транспорта.

Проект «Поддержка устойчивого управления транспортом в г. Душанбе» будет содействовать разработке интегрированной политики в отношении общественного транспорта, которая будет включать в себя: улучшение качества услуг общественного транспорта, в особенности – троллейбусов; разработка планов интегрированного землепользования и планирования городского транспорта для уменьшения спроса на транспорт; институциональное усовершенствование структур для управления экологически устойчивыми видами транспорта, повышение возможностей для использования немоторизованных средств передвижения, включая велосипеды и ходьбу пешком.

Проект с общим планируемым бюджетом более $6 млн. подписали Растислав Врбенский и Абдухомид Шералиев, заместитель председателя города Душанбе.

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Discussion Starter #5
RTSU, Liaoning University of Petroleum and Chemical Technology sign cooperation agreement
DUSHANBE, April 17, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Russian-Tajik Slavic University (RTSU) in Dushanbe and Liaoning University of Petroleum and Chemical Technology (China) have signed an agreement on cooperation in the fields of science and education as well as training of specialists.

The document was inked by RTSU Chancellor Muhammadyusuf Imomov and Vice-Chancellor of Liaoning University of Oil and Chemical Technology Yunchuan Bay (phonetically spelled) here on April 16, the source at RTSU said.

Under the agreement, leavers from the school at RTSU may be sent to the Liaoning University of Petroleum and Chemical Technology to study such disciplines as oil ad chemical technologies, geology and some others, the source said.

Founded in Dalian, Liaoning Province in 1950, Liaoning Shihua University was the first petroleum school in China. In 1953, the university moved to the city of Fushun, Liaoning Province. In March, 2002, under the ratification of the Ministry of Education, the name of the university was changed from Fushun Petroleum Institute into Liaoning University of Petroleum & Chemical Technology. It is a state-owned, non-profit making institution of higher education and the first of its kind in China.

The university has developed a good relationship with 12 foreign universities, including Edinburgh University, U.K. and Ufa University of Petroleum Technology, Russia. Liaoning University of Petroleum and Chemical University has developed into a multi-disciplinary university with petrochemistry as its distinctive feature, and Engineering, Science, Economics, Management, Literature, Law and Education as major subjects.

World Bank awards Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project in Tajikistan
DUSHANBE, April 17, 2010, Asia-Plus -- The Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project in Tajikistan was named one of the 12 winners in the World Bank’s third annual ‘Improving the Lives of People in Europe and Central Asia’ 2010 competition, press release issued by the Word Bank Dushanbe Office on April 16 said.

”More than 40,000 households in over 400 rural, upland villages have benefited from the Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project. The project is notable in Tajikistan for its participatory approach in which villagers play key roles in identifying and managing small-scale agricultural, sustainable land management and infrastructure investments,” said Tohir Ostonaev, Director of the Project Management Unit in Dushanbe. “Furthermore, the CAWMP partnership with the World Bank has highlighted the importance of environmental considerations in agricultural production in upland areas, and is helping rural populations respond to global challenges, especially climate change.”

The Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project is helping upland and mountain communities in the Surkhob, Zarafshon, Vanj and Toirsu watersheds raise their agricultural productivity and household assets in ways that support the sustainable management of land resources. This approach is providing replicable models for comparable areas throughout the country. The project has introduced local communities to improved sustainable land management practices. It has increased the productivity of land while reducing erosion problems related to poor land use; built the capacities of rural populations to identify and implement rural investments; and developed the government's role as facilitator and supporter of local initiatives.

“Although many countries in the Europe and Central Asia region enjoyed very strong growth and higher living standards throughout the past decade, the global financial and economic crisis has hit this region the hardest,” said Philippe Le Houérou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “But the winners of the 2010 ‘Improving the Lives of People in Europe and Central Asia’ competition show how innovative projects improve the daily lives of people in the region despite the harmful effects of the recent financial turmoil on country economies.”

Le Houérou also emphasized that “the winners demonstrate real results, including job growth, establishment of small businesses and improved enterprise access to financing, improved health care and health protection and rehabilitated water and irrigation systems that have increased crop yields, just to name a few. These innovative projects and programs also show that a continuous partnership with the World Bank can leverage the effects of economic downturn and demonstrate a real positive impact on the ground.”

The third annual celebration of results to recognize the winners will take place in Washington on June 3, 2010.

Dushanbe marks Capital City Day

DUSHANBE, April 17, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Tajik capital Dushanbe is marking a Capital City Day today.

The Capital City Day is marked on the third Saturday of April and this year, Dushanbe is marking the Capital City Day on April 17.

Today morning, Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloyev attended a ceremony of official opening of a three-story public center in the Ravshangaron area. The center has been built due to 1.8 million somoni allocated from the city’s budget. The center places Internet-café, banquet room, beauty salon and a number of other consumer service outlets.

In all, ten social facilities worth 21.4 million somoni are expected to be officially opened in Dushanbe on the occasion of the Capital City Day.

Besides, an international race dedicated to this event is being held this year and representatives of 14 cities across the world, which are Dushanbe’s sister cities, as well as 50 Tajik athletes and representatives from diplomatic missions and international organizations active in Tajikistan are participating in the race, according to the Dushanbe mayor’s office press service.

The winner will receive 15,330 somoni in prize money, 13,140 somoni will be given for the second place, 10,950 somoni for the third place, 8,760 somoni for the fourth place, 7,864 somoni for the fifth place and 6,570 somoni for the sixth place.

The Dushanbe’s sister cities are Lusaka, Zambia (1966); Sana'a, Yemen (June 25, 1967); Monastir, Tunisia (November 24, 1967); Klagenfurt, Austria (1972); Lahore, Pakistan (September 15, 1976); Boulder, USA (May 8, 1987); Mazar-i Sahrif, Afghanistan (July 13, 1991); Reutlingen, Germany (October 5, 1991); St. Petersburg, Russia (October 6, 1991); Shiraz, Iran (February 16, 1992); Minsk, Belarus (July 21, 1998); Urumqi, China (September 10, 1999); Tehran, Iran (March 12, 2001); and Ankara, Turkey (December 11, 2003).

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Discussion Starter #6
Contest for development of social facility construction projects announced in Dushanbe
DUSHANBE, Asia-Plus -- The Dushanbe mayor’s office have announced a contest for development of projects for construction of a number of social and cultural facilities in the city.

Shavkat Saidov, a spokesman for the Dushanbe mayor’s office, says the contest is held from April 14 to April 29 and both physical and legal entities may take part in this contest.

The contest participants are offered to develop the projects for construction of a nine-story hypermarket at the Nusratullo Makhsum Street, Italian entertainment and domestic service center at the Shamsi Street, three nine-story apartment buildings in the Ispechak area and some other facilities, the spokesman said.

To get Tajik tourist visa foreign national has to pay only US$25.00, says Tajik official
DUSHANBE, Asia-Plus -- A single cost for tourist visa has reportedly been set for all foreign nationals traveling to Tajikistan.

The deputy head of the Committee for Youth, Sports and Tourism Affairs under the Government of Tajikistan, Lochin Fayzulloyev, told Asia-Plus Monday afternoon the cost of Tajik tourist visa has been set at 25.00 U.S. dollars.

“The new tourist visa system came into effect on April 1 this year, earlier, the cost of tourist visa for foreign travelers had fluctuated from US$25.00 to US$100.00 that had caused bewilderment of representatives of some countries,” Fayzulloyev said, noting that the move is aimed at promoting further development of tourism industry in the country.

According to him, the cost of the Tajik tourist visa is the lowest among the CIS states; “within the CIS area, the highest cost of tourist visa is now US$100.00.”

In the meantime, 59,000 foreign nationals have traveled to Tajikistan in January-March 2010; 44,000 of them have visited the country on private business; 6,700 other have made business trips, 2,200 foreigners have passed through Tajikistan in transit and 3,000 foreigners have visited the country as tourists.

To-date, 158 tourist operators have been registered in Tajikistan. Over the first three months of this year, four tourist companies have been granted operating license. Meanwhile, seventy-seven tour companies have been suspended in the country lately for serious shortcomings in their activities, Fayzulloyev said.

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Discussion Starter #7
Dushanbe mayor’s office allocates 1 mln somoni to provide extraordinary grants to local war veterans
DUSHANBE, April 26, 2010, Asia-Plus -- On occasion of the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the Dushanbe mayor’s office has allocated some one million somoni to provide extraordinary grants to 1,499 people.

Shavkat Saidov, a spokesman for the Dushanbe mayor’s office, said the veterans and invalids of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and the spouses of the servicemen who died in that war, veterans of the Afghan war of 1979-1989, participants in Chernobyl Cleanup Operation and families of those who died in actions for restoration of the constitutional order in Tajikistan in the 1990s would receive an extraordinary grant of 450 somoni each.

In all, 260 veterans and invalids of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 now live in the Tajik capital. In addition to their pensions, they also receive every month 150 somoni from the city’s budget, the spokesman said.

Majlisi Namoyandagon board considers amendments to the mortgage law
DUSHANBE, April 26, 2010, Asia-Plus -- The board (Shuro) of Tajikistan’s lower chamber (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament (Majlisi Oli) considered a bill requiring amendments to the country’s law on mortgage at an April 26 meeting, presided over by the Majlisi Namoyandagon speaker, Shukurjon Zuhurov.

Muhammadato Sultonov, a spokesman for the Majlisi Namoyandagon, said the board also considered amendments to the country’s laws on the national budget for 2010, education, general census of the population and secret innovations.

The board also endorsed the plan of meetings of MPs with voters for the period from May 1 to May 9 and considered issues related to election of the Majlisi Namoyandagon representatives to the Constitutional Court of Tajikistan and the Shuroi Adliya (Council of Justice).

TB hospital wit 50 beds to be built in Qurghon Teppa due to the World Bank support
QURGHON TEPPA, April 26, 2010, Asia-Plus -- A new regional TB hospital with 50 beds will be constructed in Qurghon Teppa, the capital of Khatlon province.

The Khatlon health directorate head Sherali Buzmakov says the project is being funded by the World Bank and the hospital will be provided with the state-of-the-art equipment and modern lab.

“Representatives from the World Bank visited Qurghon Teppa recently,” said Buzmakov, “They met with the province governor and familiarized themselves with the site for construction of the hospital.”

He added that the existing regional TB hospital located in the Bokhtar district had been renovated due to 300,000 somoni provided from the regional budget.

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Discussion Starter #8
Varzob residents again ask president to eliminate toll for Dushanbe-Chanak highway
DUSHANBE, May 7, 20010, Asia-Plus -- People living in the district of Varzob are continuing to protest against the toll road management mechanism introduced for the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway.

Residents of the village of Duoba in Varzob and a number of settlements subordinate to Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district today sent a petition signed by some 300 people to President Emomali Rahmon with solicitation to eliminate the toll. Copies of the petition were sent to the Prosecutor-General and heads of the Supreme and Constitution courts.

Car owners from Varzob now have to pay 7.20 to 22.40 somoni for going to and returning from Dushanbe, the letter says. According to the petition, residents of the village of Duoba drive along this highway for some 500-600 meters, they, however, have to pay 3.60 somoni on going to Dushanbe and the same amount on retuning from the city (it turns out that they have to pay 7.40 somoni for 1 kilometer), while residents of the villages of Khoja Obi Garm and Gushari have to pay 22.40 somoni.

Petitioners noted that the toll road law violated their constitutional rights. They asked the president to eliminate the toll or at least to introduce not high tolls only for drivers-entrepreneurs drivers who pass though the Anzob Tunnel and earn money.

We will recall that under the mechanism of road toll management for the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway that was introduced on April 1, vehicles are charged per kilometer; cars, trucks with load capacity of up to two tons and buses with no more than 19 seats pay 30 dirams (0.3 somoni) per kilometer, while trucks with load capacity of 2 to 7 tons and buses with 20 to 39 seats pay 60 dirams per kilometer, and trucks with load capacity of 7 to 14 tons and buses with more than 40 seats pay 1.50 somoni per kilometer. Heavy trucks with load capacity of 14 and more tons pay 1.88 somoni per kilometer. To-date, two toll stations have been built on this highway connecting the center and the north of Tajikistan. In all, seven toll service stations will be built on this highway.

Tajik FM asks Russian envoy to assist in lifting ban on delivery of Tajik dried fruits to Russia
DUSHANBE, May 7, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Tajik Foreign Minister hamrokhon Zarifi yesterday received Russian Ambassador to Tajikistan Yuri Popov, according to the Tajik MFA information department.

The sides discussed state and prospects of further expansion of bilateral cooperation between Tajikistan and the Russian Federation.

In the course of the talks, Zarifi drew attention of the Russian envoy to the decision adopted Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare on banning Tajik dried fruit deliveries into Russia.

The Tajik side asked to consider the possibility of lifting the ban on delivery of Tajik dried fruits to Russia, the source said.

During the meeting, Ambassador Popov informed Zarifi of a composition of the Russian delegation that will attend the 37th Council of Foreign Ministers of Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference that will take place in Dushanbe from May 18-20.

We will recall that at the beginning of this week, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare adopted the decision to put a temporal ban on the delivery of Tajik dried fruits to the Russian Federation due to polio outbreak reported in Tajikistan.

Kulma crossing on Tajik-Chinese border opens from traffic
KHOROG, May 7, 2010, Asia-Plus - The Kulma crossing on the Tajik-Chinese border in the Murgab district, Gorno Badakhshan opened for traffic on May 6, the GBAO customs service chief Mehrafzoun Mehrafzounov, said in an interview with Asia-Plus.

“The crossing works every day, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, except weekends and holidays, from May through November,” Mehrafzounov said, noting that the issue of organization of the year-round operation of the crossing has not yet been solved.

We will recall that crossing has worked in this regime sine May 1, 2008.

The Tajik-China trade route, opened in 2004, runs from Khorog, the capital of Gorno Badakhshan in southeastern Tajikistan, over a high-altitude plateau and then down into China, where it ends in the city of Kashgar, 700 kilometers away.

As conditions are so tough at the Kulma border crossing, which is located on a mountain pass 4,400 meters high, until May 1 2008, the gateway had stayed open only 15 days out of every month, while from November through April it had been closed altogether.

In the meantime, Yormamad Faqirov, the deputy chief of the GBAO customs service, noted that compared to January-April 2009 cargo transportation volumes to the region from abroad have decreased over the first four months of this year by more than 660 tons.

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Discussion Starter #9
Expansion of Tajik-Pakistani trade and economic ties discussed in Dushanbe
DUSHANBE, May 14, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Expansion of trade and economic ties between Tajikistan and Pakistan was a major topic of a meeting of Sharif Said, Chairman of Tajikistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), with Hasnain Reza Mirza, Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Halal Products Development Board (PHPDB), which took place in Dushanbe on May 13, according to the CCI press service.

Sharif Said briefed Hasnain Reza Mirza on priorities of Tajikistan’s economy. He noted that trade cooperation between the two countries had good potential and it was necessary to continue developing business relations, expanding investment policy, launching joint ventures, organizing exhibitions, etc.

Hasnain Reza Mirza, for his part, noted that Pakistan entrepreneurs were interested in expansion of trade cooperation with Tajikistan and agreed that holding of exhibitions would play an important role in promoting further expansion of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The sides also discussed possible themes of the future exhibitions, noting that there are some transportation problems, the CCI press service said.

The Pakistan Halal Products Development Board (PHPDB) was set up as an autonomous body under the auspices of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in December 2009. The board is linked to the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) through Islamic Chamber Research and Information (ICRC). The board has 16 members with 11 from the private sector and five from the public sector.

UAIS to be introduced in Tajik customs services until the end of this year

DUSHANBE, May 12, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Separate components and subsystems of the Unified Automated Information System (UAIS) being introduced by the Customs Services of Tajikistan have been demonstrated System (UIAS) were demonstrated in Dushanbe today.

Speaking at the event, Nemat Rahmatov, the first deputy head of the Customs Services, noted that specialists from R.I.S.K. Company, Azerbaijan are installing the system in the country. According to him, new unified form of customs commodity declaration meeting international standards was introduced in the country at the beginning of this year.

Rahmatov noted that work on installation of the unified information automated system was expected to be finished until the end of this year.

We will recall that Tajik Customs Services and R.I.S.K. singed a contract for US$6.16 million for the development of UAIS under the ongoing Regional Customs Modernization and Infrastructure Development Project financed by the Asian-Development Bank (ADB) in July 2009. This is the largest contract ever signed by the Customs Service.

The Project is a continuation of ADB support for customs reform and modernization for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan under the CAREC program. The Project's objectives are to (i) improve the efficiency and transparency of customs services, and reinforce the ongoing customs legal reforms and simplification of customs procedures; and (ii) facilitate trade and promote regional customs cooperation through concerted customs reforms and modernization in the West and Central Asian region.

This component consists of three interrelated subcomponents: (i) developing the core UAIS application systems and associated operation-support systems; (ii) developing communications infrastructure to support UAIS operation (i.e., providing and strengthening the communication links between the Customs Services headquarters, regional customs offices, customs border posts, and inland clearance points); and (iii) providing training and a public awareness campaign to ensure sustainability and broad-based support for customs services.

Strategic planning workshop considers police reform in Tajikistan
A two-week strategic planning workshop for 27 senior police managers, organized by the OSCE Office in Tajikistan to foster police reform, concluded on 7 May.

Participants discussed how law enforcement agencies' capacity can be improved with strategic planning. They also assessed the need for further police training as part of the country's police reform.

In addition, they discussed how to promote the reform inside the police force and how to attract the support of donors and international partners.

"This workshop contributed to enhancing the police mandate, skill development and structures to better equip them to respond to the crime situation," said Klaus Rasmussen, Deputy Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan.

"It also is crucial to strengthen the relationship between citizens and the police as pre-requisite for a successful police reform."

The training course was conducted by two police reform and public relations experts from Germany specializing on organizational change.

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Discussion Starter #10
SEOUL, May 29 (NNN-Yonhap) - South Korea on Saturday announced plans to send food and relief goods for victims of floods following torrential rains in Tajikistan.

The decision to offer the assistance worth US$ 50,000 came after consultation with the government of Tajikistan, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

About 40 people were killed and hundreds were injured by floods after heavy rains hit the southern part of the ex-Soviet state early this month, the ministry reported.

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Discussion Starter #11
Tajikistan to introduce royalty fees for use of natural resources
DUSHANBE. June 2. “Asia-Plus” -- Today, June 2, after long debates deputies of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan have approved introduction of new amendments into the Tax Code of the country proposed by the government.

Presenting the amendments and changes to the Tajik Tax Code, Chairman of the Tajik Tax Committee under the government of Tajikistan Nusratullo Davlatov noted that the amendments will let Tajikistan introduce solid royalty fees for the use of natural resources.

“Currently, we charge royalty fees for the use of natural resources at minimum or maximum rate and this takes us and our taxpayers too much time,” he said. “Furthermore, introduction of solid royalty fees will let the country’s budget receive additional 8-10mln Somoni a year.”

Leader of the Islamic Renaissance party of Tajikistan Muhiddin Kabiri noted that no foreign investments were observed in processing industry in the first quarter this year. “Approval of the amendments into Tax Code may cause barriers in the given direction and, therefore, I suggest to send the draft law for further consideration,” Kabiri has said.

Leader of the Communist party of Tajikistan, deputy Shodi Shabdolov agreed with Kabiri and expressed bewilderment over such low royalty fees for production of metals and precious stones.

Asking questions of deputies top Tajik tax official said that Tajikistan is behind other countries of region and Russia in terms of royalty fees.

“In addition, in the frameworks of EurAsEC we are obliged to charge the same royalty fees for the use of natural resources as other member states are charging,” he said.

Tajikistan to introduce tough control over effective use of budget funds in governmental structures
DUSHANBE. June 2. “Asia-Plus” -- In the course of a regular meeting of the first session of the lower chamber of Tajikistan’s parliament of the fourth convocation deputies of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan have approved the draft law “On financial management and internal control in governmental sector” proposed by the government of the republic.

This is the first-ever law in the history of finance structures of the country which ensures tough control over the target use of budget funds in governmental structures, Deputy Minister of Finance Jamshed Norinov spoke as presenting the draft law.

“The law specifies functions, tasks and responsibilities of heads of governmental structures in the field of target use of budget funds and, we are sure, will play positive role in reduction of corruption in these structures,” he said. “The proposed draft law will not duplicate the functions of the State Financial Control and Counter-Corruption Agency.”

According to Deputy Finance Minister, internal audit departments are set up only in structures with annual budget that exceeds 52mln Somoni and with no less than 800 staff members.

“Such internal audit departments were set up in five pilot ministries. Each department consist of four specialists. These departments have already justified the need in internal audits,” he added.

Speaker of the lower chamber of Tajikistan’s parliament Shukurjon Zuhurov, on his turn, noted that internal audit is included into the list of requirements of many international organizations which can invest funds into the development of Tajikistan’s governmental sector. “For example, I’m aware that European Union is planning to allocate 18mln Euro to support Tajikistan’s budget in 2010 but requires a series of mechanisms to control the distribution and expenditure of funds by means of internal audit,” he said.

The draft law was approved by the majority of voices.

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Discussion Starter #12
Introduction of new export duty by Russia causes 30% raise in fuel prices in Tajikistan
Increase in gasoline prices in Tajikistan in the second decade of June is completely justified and connected with introduction of new export duty for fuel by Russia, Head of the Department of Information, Recordation and International Relations of the Tajik Antimonopoly service Elena Rahimova told the AP.

She said that one liter of AI-92 gasoline should be sold at 4,30 Somoni, while AI-95 gasoline should be sold at 4,40 Somoni.

She said that after introduction of new export duties for fuel by Russia, the price of oil products in Tajikistan should be raised by 30%.

Meanwhile, acting director general of Gazprom Neft – Tajikistan company Farhod Mirzoev said that fuel prices will be regulated in accordance with the regulation of the Russian government and depending on fuel prices at the global market. Gazprom Neft – Tajikistan covers 33% of Tajikistan’s fuel market.

Mirzoev believes that introduction of new export duties does not bear political character. “If Russia was planning to create barriers for fuel supplies to Tajikistan, it would not open its gas stations here and pay taxes. It would be much more easier to block these supplies straight at the border. By the way, 90% of fuel is imported to Tajikistan from Russia,” he said.

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Discussion Starter #13
Tajikistan to receive $1.5 mln grant to develop climate-change mitigation programs
DUSHANBE, July 12, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Tajikistan will receive $1.5 million grant from the multi-donor Climate Investment Funds to strengthen the country’s capacity to analyze and develop climate-change mitigation programs, Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Resident Mission in Tajikistan said on July 12.

The assistance is the Phase I under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) to Tajikistan. The PPCR Phase I is a partnership among the Government of Tajikistan, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and World Bank.

Tajikistan has been selected as one of nine countries and two regions in the world to participate in the PPCR.

Tajikistan will conduct institutional analysis and capacity needs for climate resilience; climate science and impact modeling partnership; awareness-raising campaign on projected climate change impacts; analysis of sustainable land management and river basin approaches for changing climate conditions; and enhancement of climate resilience of the energy sector.

These activities have been identified through extensive consultations with the government, civil society, private sector and donor organizations.

The PPCR Phase I will also help design a larger Strategic Program for Climate Resilience to support climate adaptation investments under Phase II, which is being considered in the amount of $50-60 million.

The Climate Investment Funds are unique financing instruments designed to support low-carbon and climate-resilient development through scaled-up financing channeled through the African Development Bank, ADB, EBRD, Inter-American Development Bank, and World Bank Group.

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Discussion Starter #14
G.Avzalov bans export of grain and flour from Khatlon

KURGAN-TUBE, August 16, 2010, Asia-Plus - Gaibullo Avzalov, Head of the Khatlon province has made the decision on prohibition of export outside of grain crops.

As have informed in the regional administration, G.Avzalov has charged to law enforcement bodies, including Department of Internal Affairs of Khatlon, and the customs office take measures on a non-admission of export of grain from Khatlon region, including wheat and flour.

The head Khatlon has explained the decision that this year there was marked the rise in prices for grain crops and flour. As he said, last months on the railway stations hasn't arrived any wagons with import flour and not to admit rise of prices in home markets, Avzalov has decided to keep own crops and stocks inside the region .

«The president of the country more than once recommended to each family provide themselves with stock of flour and grain», - has underlined Avzalov.

FAO cuts wheat production forecast but considers supplies adequate
DUSHANBE, August 6, 2010, Asia-Plus -- The impact of unfavorable weather events on crops in recent weeks has led FAO to cut its global wheat production forecast for 2010 to 651 million tons, from 676 million tons reported in June, FAO reported on August 4.

But despite production problems in some leading exporting countries, the world wheat market remains far more balanced than at the time of the world food crisis in 2007/08 and fears of a new global food crisis are not justified at this point, FAO said.

A continuing, devastating drought afflicting crops in the Russian Federation, coupled with anticipated lower outputs in Kazakhstan and Ukraine have raised strong fears about the availability of world wheat supply in the 2010/11 marketing season.

The turmoil in global wheat markets, which has intensified in recent weeks, is evidence of the growing dependence on the Black Sea region, an area renowned for erratic yields, as a major supplier of wheat to world markets. In addition, an expected production decline in Canada, another major producer and exporter of wheat, has reinforced market worries.

International wheat prices have jumped by over 50 percent since June. This rapid increase in prices is prompting concerns about a repeat of the crisis of 2007/08.

But after two consecutive years of record crops, world inventories have been replenished sufficiently to cover the current anticipated production shortfall. Even more importantly, stocks held by the traditional wheat exporters, the main buffer against unexpected events, remain ample.

External factors, including the macro economic environment and developments in other food markets, which were major drivers behind the surge in international prices in 2007/08, are not posing a threat so far, FAO said.

The latest downgrading of world wheat production forecast for 2010 points to a tighter supply situation and increases the likelihood of higher wheat prices compared to the previous season. However, fears of a global food crisis are unwarranted at this stage.

On the other hand, should the drought in the Russian Federation continue, it could pose problems for winter plantings in that country with potentially serious implications for world wheat supplies in 2011/12.

We will recall that according to the Antimonopoly Agency, wheat flour prices have risen 20 percent in Tajikistan. Kazakhstan provides the bulk of Tajikistan’s wheat and flour imports. Kazakhstan accounts for 96 percent of the overall volume of Tajikistan’s grain imports and the remaining 4 percent are delivered from Russia and Belarus.

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Discussion Starter #15
International methodology of real estate market analysis introduced in Tajikistan
DUSHANBE, August 25, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Investment company, Somon Capital, has announced successful implementation of real estate market research methodology for the purposes of investment and construction decision making.

According to press release issued by Somon Capital, the company’s work on introducing the methodology began in June 2009 and was completed in mid August 2010. The work included setting up the research methodology in Dushanbe real estate market and establishment of Somon Capital Real Estate unit managed by Ms Bustona Rashidova, Tajikistan’s first and only real estate analyst certified in March 2010 by Russian Guild of Realtors (RGR), Moscow, Russian Federation.

The methodology is developed with assistance of Gennady Sternik, senior analyst of RGR, Professor of Economics and Management of Urban Construction Department of the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, and consists of collection of documented information about objects of the market and maintenance of analytical database, differentiation of objects by various properties (classes, location, size and etc.), identification of statistical properties of the samples, analysis of derived numerical extensive and parametric models with discrete steps, and description of the findings.

The purpose of introducing this methodology is to fill the information gap and to be able to provide relevant information to financial institutions, construction companies, investment companies, realtors and developers for them to use in their daily professional decision making. Somon Capital partnered with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) in introducing the research methodology.

“In Tajikistan there is lack of business information for decision making purposes, especially when making investment decisions and risk analysis where access to accurate unbiased information including trends is very important. Given the importance of development the real estate market and the important of construction sector in economic growth, we decided to introduce the methodology to begin analyzing the real estate market in Dushanbe and provide our research to customers. We hope that this research will be useful” – said Jamshed Rahmonberdiev, CEO Somon Capital investment bank.

“Our experience and research demonstrated that real estate market in Dushanbe is in its early stages of development, including the market infrastructure, information, financing mechanisms and etc. Nevertheless, despite this fact we managed to introduce market research methodology, and we were able to collect and analyze information for the entire 12 months” – said Bustona Rashidova, head of real estate unit Somon Capital.

The methodology developed with participation of G. M. Sternik is widely used among RGR certified real estate analysts in 25 regions of Russia, as well as Ukraine, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Tashkent, Bishkek and now in Dushanbe; the methodology is also used in other economies in transition. It is endorsed by state and international institutions, including as standard methodology for Central and Eastern European countries - members of CEREAN (Central Europe Real Estate Associations Network).

Joint stock-company (JSC) Somon Capital is the first domestic investment bank working in Tajikistan - providing a unique combination of local knowledge and experience with international expertise in Tajikistan. It offers local and international clients wide range of professional investment and advisory services in the fields of investment banking, capital market operations.

Repair-renewal operations at Pamir-1 HPP completed ahead of schedule
KHOROG, August 28, Asia-Plus -- The Pamir-1 hydroelectric power plant (HPP) resumed its operations on August 27, three days ahead of schedule.

We will recall that the Pamir Energy Company (PamirEnergy) that operates the Pamir-1 HPP announced on August 23 that the station suspends operations for a week-long planned repair-and-renewal work.

The repair-and renewal operations resulted in the supply of daily electrical power to the city of Khorog and Shugnan, Rushan, Ishkashim, and Roshtqala districts being reduced to 18 hours.

The repair-and-renewal operations were carried out to ensure regular work of the station during the autumn-winter period. During the repair-and renewal operations, the company’s customers were receiving electricity 18 hours per day from the Khorog hydropower plant on rotation: electricity supplies were being cut off only for three hours in the morning and for three hours in the evening.

“Continuous shift work has allowed completing the repair-and-renewal operations ahead of schedule,” the PamirEnergy spokesman Mirzoaziz Mirzoqandov said, noting that the customers now have electricity regularly.

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Discussion Starter #16
Sourcing training for Tajik textile and clothing companies to be conducted in Dushanbe
DUSHANBE, September 13, 2010, Asia-Plus -- In the framework of the Trade Promotion Project in the Republic of Tajikistan implemented by the International Trade Center (ITC) and funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), ITC international consultant on Sourcing – Ms. Doreen Tan will conduct a two-day training for the representatives of Tajik clothing and textile companies on sourcing skills in Dushanbe form September 21 to September 22, Saidmumin Kamolov, National Project Manager, Trade Promotion Program in Tajikistan International, Trade Center UNCTAD/WTO (ITC), said

Ms. Doreen Tan will arrive in Tajikistan for a week-long visit on September 15. She will conduct the training providing information on the basics of the sourcing and supply chains, and considering methods of finding and evaluating sourcing suppliers and defining quality of their products at Asia Grand Hotel.

The training participants will be introduced to the top ten textile exporting countries and common terms and requirements of foreign trade contract. During practical exercises and video-tours to the testing laboratory companies will learn how they can independently to define quality and characteristics of the fabric.

The training will cover the following subjects: 1) skills on materials sourcing; 2) testing and control of the fabric; 3) basic textiles; 4) pre-trip sourcing self-evaluation; and 5) preparation for Shanghai fair.

One of the practical purposes of the training and individual consultations is preparation of representatives of the local textile and clothing enterprises for participation at the international sourcing fair in Shanghai in October of this year where companies will have an opportunity to find out more about international system of fabric and trim sourcing, personally meet with suppliers, discuss with them possibilities of cooperation and to conclude a purchasing contract.

The overall objective of this project is to contribute to the sustainable expansion and diversification of small and medium size enterprises’ exports in Tajikistan by increasing competitiveness in the textile and clothing (“T&C”) industry and improving the quality management infrastructure of the country.

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Discussion Starter #17
Tajik president awarded Blokhin Gold Medal
DUSHANBE, October 2, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has been awarded the Nikolai Blokhin Gold Medal instituted by Russia’s Academy of Medical Sciences.

The President of Russia’s Academy of Medical Sciences Mikhail Davydov bestowed the medal on Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe on October 1 on sidelines of a meeting of President Rahmon with him and Igor Shchepotin, Director of Ukraine’s National Cancer Oncology Institute, according to presidential press service.

The Tajik head of state was reportedly awarded the medal for significant contribution to development of health care and support for medical sciences.

In the course of the talks, the sides exchanged views on various aspects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Tajikistan, Russia and Ukraine in the public health sphere, in particular expansion of cooperation in oncology.

U.S., Russian ambassadors hold first ever joint discussion at RTSU in Dushanbe
DUSHANBE, October 2, 2010, Asia-Plus -- U.S. Ambassador Ken Gross and Russian Ambassador Yuri Popov participated in an extraordinary joint discussion with more than 50 international relations students at Russian-Tajik Slavonic University (RTSU) in Dushanbe on September 29, according to the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe.

The two ambassadors fielded questions from students on topics such as U.S. and Russian economic assistance, border security, U.S. – Iranian policy, U.S. –Russian cooperation, immigration and education. Rahmon Ulmasov, head of the department of Foreign Languages at Slavonic University, moderated the discussion.

Gross and Popov both remarked about the improved relationship between Russian and the United States under the Obama administration. Ambassador Gross said, “We’ve seen a closening of relationships at the very top, between the Russian president and the American president, and here in Dushanbe I am lucky to have Ambassador Popov as a colleague. We have a very close relationship here as well. There are things that we can do together that benefit both countries and for other countries.”

Ambassador Popov added, “The Russian Federation and the United States have restarted their relationship under the Obama administration, and now we have a spirit of healthy competition that is both transparent and non-confrontational. America and Russia are joining hands trying to make life in Tajikistan better.”

Students asked questions about the investment climate in Tajikistan, the possibility of U.S. – Tajik educational partnerships and how the U.S. and Russian are helping to stop terrorism in Tajikistan.

On the topic of terrorism, Ambassador Gross said, “The United States has many projects that help secure the border with Afghanistan, but at the same time, Tajikistan is doing a great deal by itself to help stop the flow of terrorists into Tajikistan and to other countries. It is a joint effort, whether it is the United States and Russia sharing information we have or working together against terrorist groups that have targeted both of our countries.”

Ambassador Popov said, “Terrorism is one of the most deadly threats to our governments. Tajikistan is geographically close to a center of terrorism, I imply Afghanistan, and due to this fact, both in Moscow and in Washington it is in our interest to share our preparations on this front.”

Students also asked the U.S. Ambassador about U.S – Iranian relations and about the life of Muslims in America, and asked the Russian Ambassador about the tension between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At the end, students thanked the ambassadors and asked them to consider returning to RTSU on September 29 of each year. Both ambassadors expressed willingness to meet again at Slavonic University and at other venues.

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Discussion Starter #18
Minister of education dissatisfied with improper coverage by media of education problems
DUSHANBE, October 11, 2010, Asia-Plus -- Minister of Education Abdurjabbor Rahmonov has expressed dissatisfaction with improper coverage by local media of problems facing the education sector.

“Today, many our journalists are mostly interested in issues related to wearing hijab and beards as if there are no other problems in the education sector,” the minister said.

According to him, journalists could cover achievements of Tajik school and university students, innovation problems, problems facing high schools, etc.

Rahmonov called on journalists to closely cooperate with the ministry in order to avoid tragic events that had taken place in some neighboring countries.

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Discussion Starter #19
Tajikistan to create database on madrassa students abroad
DUSHANBE – The Tajik Committee for Religious Affairs intends to create a database on Tajiks studying in foreign madrassas, reported October 11.

The government does not know exactly how many Tajiks are studying in foreign madrassas, he said, adding it knows of 1,432 such students.

The government is urging parents to bring their children back from foreign madrassas, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported October 12. Dushanbe has expressed concern about the potential for extremist indoctrination in foreign madrassas.

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Discussion Starter #20
ECI officials awarded top Tajik state cultural medals
TEHRAN -- Tajikistan awarded its top cultural medals to ECO Cultural Institute (ECI) director Hojjatollah Ayyubi and his advisor Mostafa Abtahi on Friday.

They received the medals on the sidelines of the first edition of the ECO Calligraphy Festival, which is currently underway in Dushanbe, announced the ECI in a press release on Saturday.

The state medal is awarded to organizations and individuals, who have carried out outstanding artistic and cultural services in Tajikistan.

The ECO Calligraphy Festival opened last week during a ceremony attended by a number Iranian and Tajik artists and officials.

A vast array of Persian calligraphy works are on display at the festival, which runs until October 27.
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