Tajikistan may postpone Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Tajikistan rail project

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan on September 22 expressed its misunderstanding to the Tajik side in connection with the statement of the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Uzbekistan, Mr. Imomi Sodik Ashurboyzoda, that Dushanbe intends to “defer until better times” the idea of building a railroad Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Tajikistan, Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported.

On 20 September, in an interview to the Russian media outlet Kommersant devoted to the development of transit transport flows in Central Asia, Ambassador Ashurboyzoda emphasized that the improvement of [Tajikistan’s] relationships with Uzbekistan encouraged Dushanbe to “defer until better days” the project of the Turkmenistan-Tajikistan railroad through northern Afghanistan.

It has been previously reported that Uzbekistan seeks to become a transportation hub of Eurasia. Turkmenistan is pursuing the same goal.

Strained relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are being improved after Shavkat Mirzioyoyev was elected President of Uzbekistan.

In January 2017 Tajikistan officially announced the intention to lay the railroad passenger route through Uzbekistan to Russia, bypassing Turkmenistan, which caused indignation in the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry which had recalled “previous agreements on railroad transportation by increasing volumes of cargo and passenger flow from Tajikistan to third countries via the territory of Turkmenistan”.

Despite this, in March 2018 the border section of the railroad from Galaba (Uzbekistan) to Amuzang (Afghanistan) was reestablished by Uzbekistan and in March the first train departed from Kulyab, Tajikistan to Moscow.

Turkmenistan is trying to lobby for the construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railroad, and has even completed construction of the section on its territory.

However, several experts had previously expressed doubts as to the rationale of this route due to the turbulent situation in Afghanistan.

Sergey Kwan

TCA