In an unusual display of candor, officials at the U.S. Embassy of Tajikistan have complained that their initiatives to support the country’s development have recently been hogtied by bureaucracy.
Speaking on May 12 at ceremony to hand over $6 million worth of equipment to the border service, Ambassador Elisabeth Millard said she hoped that the difficulties the embassy has experienced in implementing its programs could be overcome.
Millard noted that the United States has endowed Tajikistan with $1.8 billion in aid money over the past 25 years.
The mission’s Information Officer, Jeff Ridenour, singled out efforts to assist the education sector as a particular problem area.
The Tajikistan page for USAID lists mitigation of student drop-out rates and the cultivation of critical thinking as the focus of its education support initiatives.
There do not seem to be any complaints, however, about the aid the United States gives Tajikistan on the law enforcement front.
The embassy said in a statement about its handover of vehicles, communications equipment and thermal cameras to the border service that the materiel would “help identify and interdict narcotics crossing along Tajikistan’s borders.”
The border service is a department within the State Committee for National Security, a successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB that is charged with, among other things, enforcing the government’s heavy-handed line against political dissidents and journalists.
The US Embassy statement noted that the US has disbursed more than $155 million to Tajikistan through CENTCOM in the fight against drug trafficking since 2006. The ambassador said the U.S. government wants to see those efforts developed further, notwithstanding mounting talk of cuts to US international financial aid across the board.
The chairman of the State Committee for National Security, Saymumin Yatimov, was fulsome in his praise for U.S. support and hinted that he would welcome more of the same or similar.
“This assistance is essential not just for Tajikistan, but for all countries in the region. Tajikistan has a border with Afghanistan that is more than 1,400 kilometers long. We are certain that the events that are taking place on our border cannot be resolved on our own,” Yatimov said.