Russia, Tajikistan Getting Closer to Military Base/Fuel/Migration Deal
Russia and Tajikistan have come to an agreement on one of the sticking points in their deal to extend the lease of Russia's largest military base in Central Asia, reports Tajikistan's minister of energy and industry Gul Sherali. As part of that deal, Russia agreed to duty-free fuel shipments to Tajikistan, but wanted a guarantee that the discounted fuel wouldn't be reexported. Tajikistan had objected, but now has agreed to Moscow's terms:
Tajikistan's Minister of Energy and Industries Gul Sherali told journalists that the two countries expect to sign an agreement on duty free oil product imports during Russian First Vice-Premier Igor Shuvalov's planned visit to Dushanbe in February, according to Asia Plus.
When the deal is signed, Russia will export 1m tonnes of oil products to Tajikistan. This is around three times the 370,000 tonnes of Tajikistan - which has experienced severe fuel shortages - imported in 2012....
[A] provision banning the re-export of oil products from Russia to third countries has been a sticking point in negotiations.
Moscow insists on the clause because of the high level of fuel smuggling in south Central Asia and the risk of fuel delivered to Tajikistan being sold on to third countries such as Afghanistan. Dushanbe had previously objected to the clause, with Tajik officials saying they would be unable to guarantee that gasoline from Russia will not be re-exported.
In addition, the agreement will take effect immediately after signing, which Tajikistan wanted, rather than 60 days after, which Russia wanted.
There was no word on the other main stumbling block, how to implement the new, looser regulations on labor migrants from Tajikistan to Russia.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.