History of the relations between the European Union and Tajikistan
Since 1992, the Tajikistan - EU cooperation has expanded to a large amount of areas, ranging from natural disaster support to poverty reduction investments and human rights. Currently, all relations between the EU and Tajikistan are guided by the bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the European Union and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership .
High level discussions between the EU are held annually under the framework of the Cooperation Council of the EU and Tajikistan. The Cooperation Council first met in 2010 , during which the discussion on the entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement had main priority. Since then, new topics were introduced such as the rule of law, education and environment.
In the past years, several high level meetings have taken place. For example in 2013 when European Commission President Barroso met Tajik President Rahmon in Brussels and underlined the importance of economic reforms in Tajikistan and the significant increase in bilateral trade that the EU and Tajikistan had witnessed. The EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Ambassador Peter Burian visited Tajikistan in 2015 and also emphasized the importance of the bilateral relations. He promised a continuation of EU support, but stressed the need for more social reforms in Tajikistan.
In 2014 at the Fourth Cooperation Council Meeting, the EU introduced its 2014 – 2020 Multi-Annual Indicative Programme , which is the base for EU-Tajik development cooperation. According to this programme, the cooperation of the EU and Tajikistan during this period will cover three main focus points:
- Rural development
- Education and vocational training
These specific focus areas for Tajikistan complement the regional focus areas for Central Asia, which are listed under Central Asia and the EU.
The EU has developed several loan and investment programmes of which Tajikistan has benefited in the past. The first European Investment Bank (EIB) Loan was received by Tajikistan in 2011 and in the same year, the EU and Tajikistan signed the Financing Agreement for a Human Development Support Programme (HDSP) regarding health, social protection and public finance management (PFM).
Adding to the financial support, the European Union is involved in human rights, culture and civil dialogue in Tajikistan, based on the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy . The leading human rights programme of the EU Delegation is its annual Human Rights Dialogue that initiated in 2008. The Dialogues are intended to foster discussion between the EU and Tajikistan on human rights and rule of law related topics.
The EU has engaged itself in Tajik civil society by organizing and/or supporting local workshops and initiatives, for example Drug Prevention Plan discussions between Tajik and EU experts, and a workshop on the Positive Motivation of Business Women in 2015. More examples can be found under 'projects'.
In order to bring the EU closer to the Tajik people, the EU annually organizes the European Week, in which it introduces European cultures to Tajikistan and introduces the work of the EU Delegation. Furthermore, in the past years many Tajik students have been successful in applying for the Erasmus Plus programme, which allowed them to study in the EU.
Cooperation between the EU and Tajikistan is not limited to its bilateral agreements. Examples of regional institutes wherein both the EU and Tajikistan took place are the Central Asia Border Security Initiative, the High Level Security Dialogue and conferences attended by regional NGO's, such as “The Role of Civil Society Institutions in the Prevention of Torture: Experience of the NGO Coalitions Against Torture in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan ” in 2014.