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Tajikistan: challenges and risks in 2014

In Tajikistan today there is so-called «Post-Soviet socioeconomic» model which in general is characteristic for all republics of the former Soviet Union. This model differs the following general features:
1) insufficient application of the principle of division of the authorities
2) domination of a command and administrative method of management
3) opacity of the power, power and property merging and concentration and that and another in hands of rather narrow circles/groups of elite
4) disproportionate development of shadow economy.
At the same time, the Tajik model (as well as all the others) possesses a number of peculiar features. Major factor which caused today’s specifics of the Tajik model, the civil war, lasted more than five years. The inter-Tajik conflict still is considered not only as one of the most long, but also one of the most hardened on the former Soviet Union.
It led to the following consequences:
1) Large-scale migration (unprecedented on scale on all former Soviet Union). First of all, it is a question of emigration of the Russian-speaking population. In Tajikistan traditionally not only ethnic Russians carried to it, but also natives from the Caucasus and the Volga region, and also considerable part of inhabitants from Dushanbe for whom the Russian language was the main language of communication. In the 90th years the country was left also by overwhelming part of the national intellectuals created in years of the Soviet power. Outflow of educated part of the population brought to sharp, even to Post-Soviet measures, science and education system decline;
2) Social and economic collapse of the 90th years, period of civil war. So, in 1993 the gross domestic product was reduced by 16% (in constant prices), in 1994 — for 24%, in 1995 — for 12%, in 1996 — for 17%. Gross domestic product in 1995 made only 41% of an indicator of 1991.
The number of victims still isn’t counted — figures vary from 100 to 300 thousand the overwhelming part of which was made by ethnic Tajiks. The general loss of real loss of the first year of war made more than 7 billion dollars; about 40 thousand houses were destroyed, as well as the majority of the enterprises;
3) The period of instability and decline of the central power proceeded in the country within several years and after the end of war. The country was divided between the field of commanders who were absolute masters in the under control territory;
4) Civil society (in the 90th years the political opposition was an underground, mass media were only state) was destroyed and started developing later, than in other Post-Soviet countries;
5) The post-military syndrome remains an influential factor public to life to this day thanks to which «boiling point» in society is much higher, than in neighboring countries. Society is ready to suffer any social difficulties if only to avoid repetition of horror of civil war.
As a result, after the conclusion of the Contract and the following three main tendencies began to define (1997) development of the country:
The first and most the main is the process of centralization, strengthening of the centralized power, played a significant role in overcoming of consequences of civil war (1992−1997). As a whole it was positive process when the authorities began to pursue the policy consistently on liquidation of system of field commanders, decrease in level of lawlessness. Since then the main thesis and the slogan in the country (both the authorities, and society as a whole) became the need of preservation of stability by any available means.
However, realization of such principle in practice couldn’t but lead to emergence two other tendencies.
So, the second main tendency became the gradual steady reduction of others «influence centers», besides power structures. After conclusion of peace and opposition legalization in the country there were some «influence centers» (regional leaders, political parties, business circles) with which the government anyway had to be considered. Gradually all of them came to naught; but if row elimination from them is considered the positive phenomenon, pressure upon political parties led to split, and then to the actual neutralization of secular opposition in the country. Since then and to the present the only alternative to the authorities is the legal Islamic opposition in the person of The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan or the underground Islamic organizations of radical type:
There is also the third tendency from here — decrease in a role of civil society, degradation of system of NGO.
Thus, by 2010 the real social and economic model of Tajikistan which is characterized by three main specific lines was finally issued:
Firstly, the political system is poorly balanced; the power is excessively centralized, the opposition gradually leaves on the periphery, development of civil society significantly lags behind. Thus access to resources is concentrated in hands of rather small group of elite. In the conditions of a lack of resources the central elite today all go to regions where they face interests of local regional elite further;
Secondly, the Tajik economy is «migratory» (roughly speaking «guest worker») economy or «economy of money order» which make 60% of gross domestic product of the country. As a matter of fact, this same raw economy, as well as Russian and Kazakhstan, only in the Tajik option the guest workers act as raw materials. So, according to the World Bank for 2010, on a ratio of the transfer to gross domestic product Tajikistan takes the 1st place in the world. In other words, the Tajik economy survives today, as a matter of fact, thanks to export of manpower. Thus, money orders make about 90% of the volume of all transfers from Russia.
Thus, the main feature of the Tajik model is internal imbalance. It keeps balance and stability generally thanks to influence of favorable external factors, somehow: stability of the Russian labor market, political stability in the next Afghanistan and on the former Soviet Union. In favorable conditions the similar model can keep stability long enough, but at their change, especially sharp, Tajikistan can not manage to adapt itself for new realities and challenges.


Challenges of 2014


In this regard, it should be noted that within several last 2014year is called important and even fatal in the history of the region. And not only in connection with the forthcoming withdrawal of troops of NATO from Afghanistan. Changes happen at more global level — world economy, according to many independent experts, enters a new phase of the development and reforming. Tajikistan, as well as CIS countries as a whole, is well integrated into existing economic system. However, change and transformation of world economy, even in scales of the CIS, can negatively affect opportunities of the country for stability preservation.
In this regard, it is possible to allocate some main modern calls which the Tajik management and society should face in the next some years, since 2014.
The first is the potential decrease in a labor market, first of all in Russia that can significantly complicate a condition of the Tajik economy. Now it is difficult to predict further development of a situation in Ukraine and the growing confrontation connected with it between Russia and the West. However, the majority of independent economists today incline to thought, that even at optimum development of a situation, it will be difficult to avoid the recession of the Russian economy. Respectively, it will be reflected (and it is already reflected as according to informal data the general decrease in volume of money orders, to 5%, already takes place) on the total amount of the money orders from Russia and number of labor migrants. Certainly, at any deal it is necessary to consider softening factors — many migrants already have the Russian nationality (to 20−25%), many already took steady positions on a labor market so single collapse is hardly worth be expected. But already today it is possible to assume essential complication of an economic component with a certain share of probability.


The second, in connection with the real confrontation between the West and the Russian Federation, the value of risks and challenges of geopolitical character sharply increased in the region.


The relation to the countries of the region is in many respects reconsidered and analyzed today in Russia and in the West. In particular, in the West today there is a revision of the relation not only to Russia, but also to the countries of Central Asia. Several months ago Central Asia was considered in a binding to Afghanistan, and many experts predicted sharp decrease in interest to the region after NATO withdrawal of troops from this country. Now, value of the region will be rethought — the Central Asian countries, most likely, will be considered already in a binding to the Russian Federation.


For Tajikistan a strategic challenge is expected building and acceleration of integration processes on the former Soviet Union.


In the conditions of confrontation with the West, the Russian management will advance more actively integration projects, such as common economic space creation, ODKB strengthening, extension of the Customs Union and so on.
In these conditions it will be already difficult for Tajikistan to pursue «multi vector policy», put in the concept of the Tajik foreign policy in the middle of the 2000th years. Respectively, the Tajik management is faced today by a number of serious problems and questions — how to make the foreign policy in new conditions, how to treat the Customs Union and other integration projects?
The problem is that the majority of integration projects remain more geopolitical projects, than economic.
Till the same time while the geopolitics is regarded as of paramount importance, they will remain unattractive for the majority of their participants, so, rather unstable and inefficient geopolitical formations.
One of serious challenges is the situation in Afghanistan in communication by the forthcoming withdrawal of troops of NATO. As it seems to me, danger of further escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan and influence of the Afghan events on a situation in the region today often exaggerated, including the justification of need of integration processes acceleration.
Actually, at any deal it is improbable that the Taliban, even in case of coming to power (that looks improbable) will be able to initiate any large-scale aggressive actions on the Tajik-Afghan border. Most likely, the matter is about support of the radical fundamentalist organizations, about strengthening of cross-border smuggling, including drugs.
The third group of challenges is the risks of internal political character. For the Tajik management today they will consist in preservation of the domination and political stability in the conditions of pre-election fight — at the beginning of 2015 elections in Majlisi Oli — parliament of the Republic of Tajikistan will be held.
The main question consists today in that, how many places the opposition, first of all the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan will receive in new parliament. How the population in the conditions of existing social and economic crisis will vote? How the process of elections will be transparent? How the relations of the central government with regions, political opposition, during the pre-election period and in the long-term plan will be built?
The problem is that it became more and more difficult to answer certain these questions today. As there are too much unknown sizes in the Tajik political formula— latent factors which in certain circumstances can gain crucial importance.
One of the reasons of such uncertainty consists in excessive dependence of the Tajik socioeconomic model on external factors.
The balance existing by decades in such internally unstable systems can be broken because of the introduction in actions of the most unexpected factor of objective character. So, it is possible to give a phenomenon as an example «Arab spring» when the growth of the world prices for bread and grain led to cancellation of local grants to poor segments of the population. For example, in Egypt poor segments of the population received bread at reduced prices which soon after a rise in prices disappeared from counters. As a result, the blow to poor layers was so notable that many experts see one of the main reasons for national revolutions in this phenomenon of «emergency globalization».


«Stability strategy»


In existing conditions, already in the present year, the Tajik government will have the hard task of development long-term and effective, so-called «stability strategy». It is hard to say, in what measure the Tajik government understands today vulnerability and an inefficiency of socioeconomic system existing in the country. However, anyway, the choice is necessary between two main options:
The first option and, in my opinion, the most logical, consists in reducing vulnerability of system due to carrying out cardinal social and economic reforms. It concludes the following, in particular:
1. Economy diversification, withdrawal from raw economy, «economy of money transfers», by creation of workplaces within the country. It is a question of creation of labor-consuming branches that is production of the final product, a wide network of the small enterprises, an expanded services sector.
2. This task will be impossible without creation of the corresponding investment atmosphere, so, decrease of level of corruption to a possible minimum.
3. Control system reform, ensuring equal access to administrative, economic and educational resources of natives of all social circles, country regions, regionalism and regionalism elimination.
However, the realization of even these three basic points in Tajikistan is represented difficult to achieve in modern conditions.
And not because the government has not or will have not the intention to carry out them. The problem is that realization of such large-scale reforms assumes the existence of several preliminary conditions. The most important, that not simple political will is necessary, but understanding of an essence of reforms, that is, what, how and in what sequence it is necessary to make.
For this purpose the existence of the convinced team of reformers in the government is necessary which would lean in the decisions on wider group of independent analysts and experts, journalists, observers, leaders of civil society and so on.
All this is not present in Tajikistan today. After the war the local analytical school wasn’t created, and personnel hunger is experienced by all institutes from state institutions and to non-governmental organizations and political parties. Even the opposition, despite increasing ideological opposition with the government, was still not able to develop even similarity of alternative strategy of development of the country.
As a result, the Tajik government, in any case, in the next years, will be compelled to be limited to the second possible option, namely, stability preservation at preservation of existing socioeconomic system.
In understanding of the Tajik government (created in many respects under the influence of their Russian colleagues) the main threat is posed today by possibility of emergence of «color revolutions», «inspired by the West».
Respectively, within this strategy the main «destabilizers» are the institutes of the civil society, independent mass media and political parties. From here there is the suspiciousness in relation to the civil society, independent mass media and the amplifying pressure upon political parties, first of all, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.

Viewed : 1946   Commented: 0

Author: Parviz Mullodjanov, political scientist, Tajikistan

Publication date : 02 July 2014 01:00

Source: The world and we

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