Prospects for Tajikistan - President Ilham Aliyev creates new opportunities for Central Asia

Prospects for Tajikistan - President Ilham Aliyev creates new opportunities for Central Asia

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 5. Improving cooperation with the countries of Central Asia has been one of the pillars of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. Within the current geopolitical landscape, this course has become one of the most important. Last year has been very dynamic for Azerbaijan’s partnership with Central Asian economies. Thanks to the personal efforts of President Ilham Aliyev, it can now be said that the Caspian Sea does not divide the Caucasus and Central Asia, but only binds these two regions together.

Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the development of comprehensive relations with Tajikistan. During the last 30 years, relations between the two countries have been firmly established, creating a favorable environment for resolving mutually beneficial issues and for active interaction in the international arena. Tajikistan and Azerbaijan share centuries-old history and culture, friendly relations, and common values, and traditions.

The legal basis for bilateral cooperation consists of about 62 agreements regulating various spheres of cooperation. The basis of the legal framework has been formed following multiple official visits of the leaders of the two countries. These bilateral instruments cover various fields – from political, economic, commercial, investment, industrial, transport, tourism, scientific and technical, to cultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as law enforcement cooperation.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan just over the first two months of the current year amounted to $824,590, of which $3,270 accounted for Tajikistan’s exports and $821,320 for Azerbaijani exports. In 2022, the bilateral trade turnover totaled $5.8 million. Although the figures are not as high, the parties have made significant progress in increasing cooperation over recent years.

As Azerbaijan has become a regional logistics and transportation hub, all the Central Asian economies are actively benefiting from the country’s transit potential, including Tajikistan. Major communication projects that Azerbaijan is currently implementing, especially, in the liberated lands, will open up new opportunities not only for Central Asia and the Caucasus, but for the wider region, and this is where Tajikistan should not miss.

Meanwhile, the number of Tajik citizens visiting Azerbaijan in 2022 amounted to 2,736 people, which is 3.3 times higher than in 2021 (820 tourists). However, this figure remains below the pre-pandemic number (3,450 citizens of Tajikistan visited Azerbaijan in 2019). Only in January 2023, some 165 people visited Azerbaijan from Tajikistan, and 177 Tajiks traveled to Baku in February. So, the number of mutual visits grows, and Tajikistan even plans to open direct flights with Azerbaijan in May this year.

The Azerbaijan-Tajikistan Investment Forum, which took place in the city of Dushanbe, highlighted the rapid growth of economic relations between the two countries. The purpose of this forum is to find ways and opportunities for investment in various fields, such as trade, industry, energy, tourism, transport, logistics, agriculture, new technologies and export development.

The Investment Forum is attended by business and investment circles of both countries, numbering more than 200 people from both sides, including heads and officials of ministries, departments, entrepreneurs and investors, representatives of companies and enterprises of various sectors of Tajikistan and Azerbaijan in the fields of industry, energy, trade, transport, communications, logistics, nutrition, tourism and other priority areas. Moreover, within the framework of the Forum, bilateral documents of cooperation between the business and investment circles of the two countries were inked.

The countries are already working on multiple economic projects covering the energy sector, oil, and aluminum industries. There is no doubt that this major event will boost the already existing successful partnership between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

Following the example of its neighbors, Kazakhstan, or Uzbekistan, Tajikistan can take advantage of the unique opportunities for business development that Azerbaijan offers today. Azerbaijan, while always expanding its export geography, has always sought to establish new areas of cooperation and strengthen existing ties. Strong, long-term ties with Central Asian countries that already exist, are the result of the farsighted policy of President Ilham Aliyev. Looking into the future, Azerbaijan has established strong ties with this region, and now that global players are changing and previous ways of cooperation are not acceptable, Azerbaijan, together with its partners, continues to develop the region for the benefit of all, in parallel cooperation with Western and Eastern countries.