Moscow and Dushanbe come to full understanding on Afghanistan
Foreign Minister of Russia and Tajikistan, Sergey Lavrov and Sirodjidin Aslov, after the talks in Moscow, signed a cooperation programme between the foreign ministries of the two countries for 2018. The agreement on readmission remains to be agreed upon - the parties postponed it to a later date. Dushanbe links the signing of this document with three others, also concerning the migration sphere.
According to Sergey Lavrov, Moscow intends to improve legal protections for Tajik citizens in Russia. "We focused on our interaction in the migration sphere. Work is underway to improve legal protections for Tajik citizens in Russia," the Russian Foreign Minister said at a meeting with his Tajik counterpart.
In late February, Tajik Ambassador Imomuddin Sattorov told the Federation Council that three agreements with Russia on migration issues were being prepared in Dushanbe, without specifying the contents of these documents. But it became known that Dushanbe insists on signing with Moscow an agreement on social and pension provision of Tajik labor migrants, of whom there were about one million in Russia. "Moscow expresses readiness to take out insurance for labor migrants if the Tajik side takes the obligation to send healthy labor migrants to Russia. But there is a problem - it will not be difficult to confirm the necessary health status in Tajikistan on a formal level," political analyst Arkady Dubnov said in an interview with the author.
Director of the Center for Central Asian Studies and Afghanistan Studies at the Institute of International Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Andrei Kazantsev, believes that migration issues should be seriously worked out and addressed in the interests of both sides. "Not only formally, but also informally. Not everyone in Russia is satisfied with the existing conditions for Tajik migrants. There are serious nationalist forces that are not satisfied with the status of the visa-free travel regime between Russia and Tajikistan. Tajik migrants would like to have more favorable conditions, better working conditions, more loyal attitude of law enforcement agencies towards them. This is a wide range of issues," the expert noted. Answering the question of Vestnik Kavkaza of whether Tajikistan's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could change the migration situation, considering the fact that, speaking at the ADA University in Baku at the end of last year, Sergey Lavrov said that "the possibility of Tajikistan's joining the EEU is being considered," Andrei Kazantsev said: "Joining the EEU would not resolve the issues of labor migration. The formal conditions for the stay of Tajik citizens in Russia, the visa-free travel regime are close to those that would exist after Tajikistan joins the EEU. The main problem is informal. For example, Kyrgyzstan and Russia have a common labor market, but informally Kyrgyz labor migrants have not much better conditions in Russia than Tajik labor migrants. Therefore, this problem - the informal conditions of migrant workers' stay, law enforcement structures' and the host society's perception of them - could not be resolved with the mere fact of joining the EEU. But what good does that do? Strengthen economic ties. But Tajikistan does not really want it now. Because it has quite a strong relationship with China, and it would not want to lose it. In addition, it develops ties with the countries of the Persian Gulf, including in the labor migration sphere, and would not want to lose them as well. Therefore, Tajikistan wants to maintain freedom within its multi-vector policy."
Indeed, Dushanbe does not include Eurasian integration as its priority. Tajik President Emomali Rahmon says that this is a complex issue, which should be decided slowly. However, time moves on, and it seems that perhaps Rahmon is considering the issue of joining the EEU, but is not in a hurry. This is his right, of course, but the participants in the economic alliance have the right for greater certainty in this matter as well. In particular, the right to know how closely linked Rahmon's sloth-like pace is to China's position, whose impact on Dushanbe is increasing. However, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier, Russia will not force anyone to join the EEU.
As for Afghanistan, there is a complete coincidence of interests and views of Moscow and Dushanbe in this issue. In particular, Sergey Lavrov and Sirodjidin Aslov noted the unacceptable attempts by some powers outside the region to use the difficult situation in Afghanistan to achieve their self-serving goals. At a press conference following the talks, the Russian minister said that issues related to Afghanistan directly affects the security of Russia and Tajikistan. " In Afghanistan, primarily in its northern regions, the activity of ISIS is on the rise. Drug trafficking is not on the decline, but rather has reached record high volumes, which directly feeds terrorist and extremist activities," Lavrov said. "We also noted the unacceptable attempts by some powers outside the region to use the difficult situation in that country to achieve their self-serving goals and to promote their unilateral agenda which has nothing to do with the interests of the region."
"Russia and Tajikistan are interested in the most rapid and peaceful resolution of issues related to Afghanistan, moreover, their positions are close on the fact that regional players should play a key role in this decision. There was full identity of views between them that security threats from Afghanistan should not cross the Tajik-Afghan border. The role of such structures as the SCO, the CSTO and the 201st Russian Military Base in Tajikistan is crucial here," Andrei Kazantsev told Vestnik Kavkaza.
This position - the issues related to Afghanistan should be resolved by regional players - was reflected in the Tashkent Declaration adopted following the international conference on security in Afghanistan titled "Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Cooperation," which was held in Tashkent in late March. By the way, Sirodjidin Aslov noted in his address that Tajikistan could share its experience in establishing relations between the official authorities and the armed opposition.