HIGH STAKES IN TAJIKISTAN TALKS.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 143

The overdue fifth round of inter-Tajik negotiations is now scheduled to open in Ashgabat tomorrow, hosted by Turkmenistan’s president Saparmurat Niyazov and mediated by Russian and U.N. envoys. The event may yet be derailed by continuing fighting, particularly along the Afghan border. The commander in chief of Russia’s border troops, Army General Andrei Nikolaev, conferred yesterday in Dushanbe with Tajik president Emomali Rakhmonov on what they described as a "complicated and tense" military situation. In an unprecedented development, Afghan border guards yesterday handed over to the Tajik authorities a group of six resistance fighters accused of having killed at least eight Russian soldiers and injured 17 others in one attack last month.

Preliminary contacts among the warring parties have produced several packages of documents for negotiation. The political package deals with the establishment of a consultative national forum and the activities of political parties, including their possible participation in national decision-making. The military package deals with the reform of Tajikistan’s "power" ministries and the merger of regime and insurgent forces if political agreement is achieved. The social package envisages repatriation of refugees and displaced persons and their legal and economic reintegration. Also on the agenda is the creation of a cease-fire monitoring commission and the possible involvement of international observers. (16)

The sides have until now been far apart especially on the first two issues. The Dushanbe government would accept a symbolic national forum and token participation by opposition parties in political decisions, keeping the regime’s constitution intact. It also wants to fully control the absorption of individual insurgents into the regime’s army and police. The United Opposition wants a national forum that would assume some of the functions of a constituent assembly, and participation by its parties in a genuine coalition government that would pave the way for new elections. It also demands a balanced merger of the two military forces under joint control. Negotiations will be long and arduous and probably accompanied by continuing, if low-intensity, fighting.

1. Reuter, November 29

2. Interfax, November 27

3. Itar-Tass, November 28

4. Zavtra, No. 43

5. Interfax-Eurasia, November 27

6. Interfax, November 28

7. Interfax, November 27; Financial Times, November 28

8. Izvestiya, November 22; Interfax, November 28

9. Interfax, November 27

10. Interfax, November 14, 22, 25, 27, & 28; Russian TV, November 25 & 27; Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 23

11. BNS and Interfax, November 27

12. Interfax, November 23 through 27

13. Noyan Tapan, November 28

14. Interfax, November 25

15. Petroleum Information Agency, November 28

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