Tajikistan-Kazakhstan Relations and Regional Integration in Central Asia
By: Sadi Vorisov
Recently, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan visited Kazakhstan, where he signed twenty agreements of cooperation in the areas of economy, agriculture, industry, technology, trade, and the export of goods between the two countries.
At a press conference, Rahmon characterized the atmosphere of negotiations between the leaders of the two countries as constructive and trusting, referring to Kazakhstan as a strategic partner of Tajikistan.
President Kassym–Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan bestowed the state award of Kazakhstan (Altin Qur‘an/Golden Eagle) upon Rahmon and evaluated the relations between Kazakhstan and Tajikistan as important, citing the historical and cultural commonalities between the two countries. He also praised Tajikistan‘s efforts in protecting the Aral Lake.
The relationship between Tajikistan and Kazakhstan has significantly increased over the past two years, with the exchange of goods surpassing one billion dollars. Kazakhstan has become Tajikistan‘s most important trading partner after Russia. The leaders of both countries expressed optimism that the cooperation between them will experience further positive growth in the economic, trade, and investment sectors in the near future.
The strengthening of cooperation between Tajikistan and Kazakhstan is occurring despite the fact that they are not geographically proximate and require the cooperation of other neighboring countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.
The relationship between Tajikistan and Turkmenistan is in a positive state, particularly due to the implementation of the “China–Central Asia Gas Pipeline–D“ project, which passes through Tajikistan and transports Turkmenistan‘s gas to China.
The only obstacle to the relationship between Tajikistan and Kazakhstan is the transportation of goods through Kyrgyzstan, which is not very encouraging at present. Although the tensions between Dushanbe and Bishkek have been alleviated, they have not been completely resolved and the trade and supply routes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan remain blocked.
In a general overview, it can be observed that since the repercussions of the war between Russia and Ukraine have spread to the countries of Central Asia, efforts are being made to improve relations and regional cohesion. These countries, which are allies of Russia, are striving to maintain a neutral stance on the issue of Ukraine, and by maintaining their relations with Moscow, they are attempting to avoid being cut off from the West and facing sanctions.
The urgency of regional convergence in Central Asia is becoming increasingly apparent. The global and regional environment necessitates that the countries of the Central Asian region strengthen intra–regional cooperation in order to optimally utilize existing resources. Furthermore, these countries have inherited significant transport infrastructure and cross–border roads from the Soviet era, which are essential for the development of trade and the import and export of goods. Moreover, most of these countries do not have a visa system, and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have recently agreed to permit their citizens to travel with a national ID card, which may be replicated by other countries in the region.
Central Asian countries are deeply concerned about the future of the war in Ukraine. If Russia is victorious, there is a potential for the formation of a Greater Russia through the annexation of former Soviet countries. Conversely, the possibility of Russia‘s failure and subsequent division into multiple countries cannot be discounted. In either case, the countries of Central Asia have concluded that regional unity and solidarity are beneficial for all, enabling them to manage the positive and negative repercussions of the war in Ukraine.