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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan
10 April 2013
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome the President Rahmon of Tajikistan at the European Commission today.
We had a very good and interesting meeting covering the major aspects of our fruitful cooperation, as laid down in our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, in force since 2010.
Today, we spoke about the domestic situation in Tajikistan, including reforms that are taking place in the country and also about the very important bilateral relationship between Tajikistan and the European Union.
Tajikistan is working to consolidate stability and reconciliation after what were very difficult moments 20 years ago. This process can only benefit from political and economic reforms that enhance multi-party democracy and ensure human rights and individual freedoms.
We have discussed the economic situation in the country as well. In this respect, I have congratulated the President for the recent accession to the World Trade Organisation, an important milestone greatly supported by the European Union. I strongly believe that it will serve as a major engine for the country and the region's economic development and reform.
We also spoke about the need to continue economic reforms, in order to improve the business and investment climate, which can boost bilateral trade and investments with the European Union. There is very important progress in this area. Our bilateral trade grew by 43% last year, but I believe there is a huge potential for further exchanges and economic activity between Tajikistan and the European Union.
The European Union is already an important partner of Tajikistan and wants to reinforce that relationship in the years to come. Tajikistan is one of the biggest recipients of the European Union's assistance in Central Asia. We believe it is important to continue with these kind of programmes. These programmes of assistance are focused on social protection to vulnerable groups. We are, for instance, supporting the National Health Strategy, we are supporting the promotion of agriculture related to the private sector. And we are now preparing the cooperation priorities for the period 2014-2020.
Regional cooperation is also central for stability and economic development of all Central Asian countries. Only through a cooperative approach between neighbouring States will be possible to tackle problems that are common in the region, such as water management and energy. We also stand ready to support the work of the countries in the region and other international institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations in this regard.
We are well aware of the challenges of Tajikistan's geo-political location, particularly with Afghanistan. In fact both countries share more than 1300 km of borders. The EU will continue to provide both diplomatic and practical support to regional stability, including to border management and combating drug trafficking.
I have reassured President Rhamon that even after the drawdown of ISAF-forces, the European Union will remain engaged in Afghanistan and in the region for the long-term.
Much progress has been made in implementing the European Union Strategy for Central Asia, and Tajikistan is our key partner. Since your last visit to Brussels, there was indeed progress in our relationships, with the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and with the opening of our delegation in the capital of Tajikistan.
And it is encouraging to see your efforts towards a brighter future for Tajikistan. You can count on the European Union along your journey.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention.