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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rahmon,
Thank you for accepting our invitation and for coming. Unfortunately, we could not meet earlier due to epidemiological reasons, but I am very happy to see you here in Russia, in St Petersburg.
Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to talk to our colleagues and friends from the EAEU and the CSTO before the New Year and discuss what has been done and look into future plans.
I would like to add that last year, we had a certain decline, as with almost all of our partners, in trade and economic relations: trade volumes fell by more than 15 percent. But this year, we are seeing a 45-percent growth, so we are back to everything we lost last year, and even increased it.
Tajikistan is one of our most reliable, loyal and close allies. We have been developing our relations in all areas, including security. The situation on the border with Afghanistan – we are in constant contact on that matter – causes alarm and concern. These are objective circumstances, and I share your concern about it.
As you know, we are actively working on improving Tajikistan’s defensive capacities. Based on our agreements, we recently shipped new weapons and other equipment to strengthen the country’s armed forces so that Tajikistan can efficiently resist any threats that come from the outside.
The military base we created at one time is still being developed and is one of the major security elements in the region. I know that you are also in contact with our military, are in control of the situation and help them so that they have good living conditions. We will continue working in this area.
And, finally, the important humanitarian aspect. I know that you pay attention to and care for the development of the Russian language, something that is being developed successfully with your support. Many people want to study Russian, and this is understandable because about a million people from Tajikistan live and work in Russia on a temporary basis. In 2019, they sent an estimated $1.8 billion back to Tajikistan. Last year, the number of workers decreased in connection with the pandemic, but about $1.7 billion was sent back.
As agreed, you and I address matters related to these migration flows, partly to support the economy of Tajikistan, and the people as well. Russian industry and its entire economy, as well as the construction sector, are interested in attracting skilled and hard-working people.
We noted that Russian language courses are the best way to help people adapt so that they can work calmly and feel comfortable.
Today we are focusing on these and other matters which form the agenda of our current meeting.
I am very happy to see you.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Thank you very much, Mr Putin.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you and the fraternal people of Russia on the upcoming New Year. I wish you robust health, new major successes, and I wish peace, wellbeing and prosperity to the people of Russia.
Relations between our countries are developing dynamically in all areas. As you just noted, Russia remains Tajikistan’s main trade and economic partner. This year’s trade volumes topped $1 billion and increased 25 percent over 2020.
Cultural and humanitarian ties are developing actively, and we cooperate closely on security matters. I am ready to discuss the state of our relations and their prospects with you, as well as international and regional matters, while focusing on the Afghan problem.
Once again, thank you very much for your invitation.