DUSHANBE (TCA) — During his visit to Tajikistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Russia’s military base in the Central Asian country “an important factor for Tajikistan’s security”.
Speaking to journalists in Dushanbe on February 5 after his talks with Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Lavrov said that Moscow is ready to assist Tajikistan in the modernization of its armed forces and “strengthening the state border,” taking into account “existing threats that continue to be imposed from the territory of Afghanistan,” RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.
“I would like to stress the role of Russia’s 201st Military Base [in Tajikistan], which is an important factor of Tajikistan’s security,” Lavrov said.
About 7,000 troops from Russia’s 201st Motor Rifle Division are stationed at three facilities that are considered part of the Russian base in Tajikistan.
The Russian foreign minister also noted a steady growth in Tajik-Russian trade, which rose by almost one-third last year, approaching $1 billion, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on its website.
“The Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation plays an important role in the development of our economic and investment ties. We agreed to continue working on creating a favourable environment for Russian economic operators in Tajikistan and Tajik companies in Russia,” Lavrov said.
He also mentioned Tajik-Russian energy cooperation plans. “We reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to participate in other infrastructure projects, including in hydropower generation by supplying equipment for the construction and upgrade of power generation facilities in Tajikistan,” Lavrov said.
Speaking about cultural and humanitarian ties, the Russian foreign minister said that the two countries “agreed to continue the practice started a couple of years ago of sending Russian teachers to work at schools in Tajikistan. We noted with satisfaction the completion of the preparation of documents that will allow us to begin the construction of five schools with instruction in Russian in this country. We are certainly pleased that the standards of Russian education enjoy high demand among undergraduate and graduate students in Tajikistan.”
Lavrov said that this year, Russia provided 629 state grants from the Russian budget to citizens of Tajikistan. Overall, about 28,000 Tajik students are enrolled at Russian universities, including 8,000 in their own country – at the local branches of Moscow State University and other Russian universities.