IIS - How would you describe Turkey and Turkish people?
F.H.Şaripov - Turkey is a great country. The first thing you see while staying in this amazing country is the combination of European and Asian colors in all its most pretty respects. It is an ancient country and a cradle of civilizations. You can feel the spirit of Lidia, lands of Hittites and Troy and many other famous cultures that made an invaluable contribution to the establishment and development of human civilization.
I feel free and convenient here as I see Tajik and Turkish peoples share a lot in terms of appearance,behavior, way of life and culture. We have many outstanding personalities who lived and worked here along with our Turkish brothers.Therefore, I am very happy being the Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan, having an opportunity to promote further establishing and closer relations between our two brotherly nations. Thus, I follow the saying by our common great grandfather who said:
We have come to unite,
But, not to divide.
IIS - What are your favorite Turkish word(s)? It means words or expressions that you remember.
F.H.Şaripov - Actually, there is plenty of such words, as «dust», «javanmard», «vatan», «vahdat» and so on that are common for our two languages and demonstrate both spirit and intentions of our peoples. I am studying Turkish and hope I will be able to talk to you in Turkish soon. Since knowledge and skills are reliable remedies of establishing good relations at individual and particularly inter-state levels.
IIS - What are the similarities between Tajikistan and Turkey in culture, art and perhaps in daily life?
F.H.Şaripov - I have already mentioned the love of the people towards poetry and got evidence how really Turkish people respect literature, arts, as well as spiritual values of the nation and how it seeks safe-guarding, developing and enriching these values. I also observed that we share a lot in terms of music, national ceremonies and traditions. There is almost no difference in the way people cook in Turkey and Tajikistan. Spirit of hospitality that can be felt in all Turkish houses looks similar to the one among people in my country. Immortal works done by Mawlavi that we in Tajikistan used to read in original language at home and public places, and that we often refer to while talking to our friends is another factor of our unity. I see in Turkey people are treated with respect and admiration for him.
“Turkey is our largest partner in terms of investment and trade. But this is not the limit, and we have to do much more in order to effectively use existing opportunities in this field.”
IIS - What are the most surprising experiences of yours in Turkey so far?
F.H.Şaripov - Almost everything in Turkey is amazing: wonderful cities with plenty of masterpieces of the world architecture, selfless and determined people aimed at national development and prosperity, competent utilization of wonderful climatic conditions for development of tourism and so on.
IIS - What important points are shared in the history of Turkey and Tajikistan, and recent progress in relations between our countries?
F.H.Şaripov - Tajikistan got its independence in September 1991 and in early 1992 had established diplomatic relations with Turkey. Following that, the Embassy of the Turkish Republic began to function in Dushanbe and later the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan was opened in Ankara. The Trade Mission of Tajikistan also functions in Turkey.
We always keep in mind with gratitude that the Turkish Republic has been among the first in the world which officially recognized the independence and sovereignty of our state and set up efficient economic, political, social and cultural ties that are of vital importance for our country today.
The official visit of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan His Excellency Emomali Rahmon to Turkey in January 2006 gave a fresh impetus to the Tajik-Turkish relations, where the Agreement on the basic principles of friendly relations between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Turkey has been signed, which laid the basis for further development of trade and economic cooperation between the countries.
The First Tajik-Turkish Business Forum was conducted on May 29, 2009 in “Hyatt Regency” Hotel in Dushanbe in the margins of the official visit of Turkish President His Excellency Abdullah Gul to Tajikistan. On December 22, 2010 in the course of the meeting of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan His Excellency Emomali Rahmon with the President of brotherly Turkey His Excellency Abdullah Gul on the sidelines of the ECO Summit, both parties raised and successfully resolved many socio-economic issues, which ultimately gave an impact and efficient result. At the same day the Tajik-Turkish Business Forum was held with the participation of the Presidents of Tajikistan and Turkey, Emomali Rahmon and Abdullah Gul. While addressing participants, they pointed out that bilateral cooperation is developing dynamically. It was stated, Turkey will help Tajikistan in the establishment of Free Economic Zones (FEZ), construction of hydroelectric power stations, joint ventures in agro-processing, infrastructure development, tourism and etc. Heads of states called on businessmen to strengthen business cooperation for the benefit of both countries. At present, with the aim of an implementation of the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation of 1993, the Tajik-Turkish Joint Economic Commission was established, which has held seven joint meetings hitherto.
IIS - What is the image of Turkey in Tajikistan?
F.H.Şaripov - Turkey has a positive image in our country, which is the result of continuous contact, the work of our diplomats, journalists, students and other populations that have some relations with Turkey. Moreover, Turkey is another reliable trade partner. Turkish products and Turkish companies operating in Tajikistan are creating a positive image ofyour country.
IIS - What are your key priorities in making Tajikistan better known in Turkey?
F.H.Şaripov - Priority areas in this respect I would say are investment to the construction of hydropower facilities, road construction, tourism and development of tourism infrastructure. Based on its geographic location and the overall situation in Central Asia, Tajikistan has to overcome the state of comparative communication deadlock. A way out of this situation is the construction of roads via other countries. It will also allow our partners to have a more convenient way of road transit traffic from all countries of the region. Due to climatic conditions and the nature of its terrain, with its many ethnic and historical features, Tajikistan is a unique country for the development of tourism and mountaineering. But it now needs investments, particularly for building infrastructures that could yield dividends in the near future.
IIS - What is your evaluation of the current investment climate and trade relations between Tajikistan and Turkey?
F.H.Şaripov - There is a vivid breakthrough and serious progress in bilateral relations between our countries. According to the State Committee on Statistics of the Republic of Tajikistan for the past 5 months of 2011, bilateral trade between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Turkey made up 280.4 million U.S. Dollars. Trade turnover for January-April 2011 has increased by 177.7% (1.7%) compared to January - April 2010. The total export of the Republic of Tajikistan in Turkey over the period of January-May 2011 amounted to 249.0 million U.S. Dollars. Imports of the country to Turkey for the period January-May 2011 amounted to 31.5 million. According to the Statistics Agency under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, major partners on exports of goods in Tajikistan for January - April 2011 was Turkey with 39.1% of total exports. In this regard, Turkey is our largest partner in terms of investment and trade. With the view to facilitate the development of the Republic of Tajikistan for the time being, the Turkish government has provided assistance through TICA amounting to more than forty million dollars of aid.
IIS - What can you say about the future international energy policies of states in our common
F.H.Şaripov - The situation in the world associated with rising in price of energy, the need for greater and more systematic approach to addressing environmental challenges and prevention of impending environmental disaster forces us to seriously approach the issue on production and use of energy.The main way to solve the situation, of course, is the use of environmentally friendly energy sources and energy. In this regard, the use of huge water power resources of Tajikistan promises tremendous benefits throughout the region and safe future. Besides, extensive use of oil and gas reserves, as well as their waste causing irreparable damage to the environmental situation across the globe.Under such situation, one of the most reliable and safest ways out of this situation is the use of water resources, which, moreover, are lasting and are absolutely environmentally safe.
Tajikistan is ready to cooperate in this area with countries and companies concerned based on mutually beneficial principles.Tajikistan has been consistently and systematically developing its energy potential, based on exploitation of renewable sources of energy. Along with the construction of small and medium-sized hydropower plants we do also intend to build large-scale projects of regional importance and study the possibilities of setting wind and solar energy.
Hydropower facilities which are under construction are important not only for Tajikistan, but also for the development of water and energy, socio-economic sectors and environmental protection in entire Central Asian region. In our view, it is unfairly, that Tajikistan, having a rich hydropower potential, uses only 3% of this stock over the past 15 years, annually experiencing additional difficulties, which often put the country on the brink of an energy crisis, especially in the winter-spring period.
Tajikistan sees the way exit of this situation through the development of its own hydroelectric power potential, taking into account the potential needs of the region in water resources and environmental conservation. Development of hydropower sector in Tajikistan in the future will enable the country to export electricity to the region, particularly to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I am convinced that only an integrated and mutually beneficial approach in the region towards effective water and energy resources and other natural resources management can ensure sustainable development of all countries and help address energy, food and environmental challenges.
IIS - What can Turkish culture offer to Tajiks and to the world at large?
F.H.Şaripov - In my view, the humanistic and ethical aspects, laid on the basis of the Turkish culture (cinema, theater, music, sculpture, architecture and etc.) contribute this culture in seeking many admirers among the various peoples of our planet.
IIS - In this context, what do you think of the cultural institutions’ effect on relations between two countries?
F.H.Şaripov - Since very early days of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, citizens of both countries have sought to better knowledge each other. And, of course, the Turkish Embassy in Tajikistan and the Embassy of our country in Turkey played an important role in this process.They have done a lot for the intensification of the relationship between the two countries and brotherly nations in all directions. They have applied all facilities of their disposal. It resulted in the establishment of a permanent cultural exchange, student and staff exchange and visits with the purpose of direct familiarization with life, customs and traditions of each other. But there are huge opportunities and resources that remain untapped in this direction. For example, it would be appropriate to establish cultural representation offices of each other in the biggest cities of our two countries and make together films, particularly about spiritual and moral subjects, to implement joint research projects on topical issues of common history and culture and etc.
IIS - If you had a chance to change something in the world what would that be and why?
F.H.Şaripov - If you’re referring to relations between our two countries, then there is no need to fundamentally alter or change anything. The course which we have chosen is the right way.
We should only more efficiently use funds that would contribute to a closer and mutually beneficial relationship between our countries for the benefit of the Tajik and Turkish nations. To this end, we do possess all necessary facilities and resources for cooperation in all areas of economic, social and cultural life.