NATO fosters scientific cooperation with Tajikistan
Policy makers, scientists and researchers met to discuss how to tackle shared security challenges in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 9 December, at the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme Information Day 2015. Participants came up with a number of proposals for collaborative projects, especially in the areas of border security and countering terrorism.
“This event addresses important and burning issues of security in Central Asia and has the potential to impact decision-making of politicians, the military, academics and representatives of civil societies,” said Professor Makhmadov, Director of the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Law at the Academy of Science of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The fight against terrorism and security at the country’s border with Afghanistan emerged as one of the most pressing issues during the discussions, with a high potential for further mutually beneficial cooperation. “These threats are equally dangerous for all countries,” stressed Dzonibek Hikmatov, Deputy Head of the International Organisations Department of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Experts voiced their concerns about the increasing influence of the Taliban and Daesh in Central Asia, the spread of extremist ideology and the intensifying radicalisation of young people, as well as drug trafficking and a growing influx of refugees.
Ambassador Holger Green of the German embassy to Tajikistan, which currently serves as the NATO Contact Point Embassy in the country, stressed the negative impact of the deteriorating security situation: “Already today we feel the consequences of the situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of refugees in Europe come from these three states. We therefore should increase our cooperation in all fields.”
In his concluding remarks, Michael Gaul, NATO Senior Advisor Projects & Strategy, said that “promising new project ideas have been identified in the field of counter-terrorism and border security - fighting terrorism and securing borders are of strategic importance for both Central Asia and NATO.”
Additionally, participants discussed possibilities for deepening cooperation on issues of environmental and energy security
The event helped foster new opportunities for further development of SPS initiatives through contacts established with the delegates from Tajik institutions and non-governmental organisations active in the region. Moreover, NATO representatives had separate meetings with the OSCE Centre in Dushanbe and the OSCE Border Management Staff College to explore the scope for cooperation.
NATO has been developing dialogue and cooperation with Tajikistan since 1992. Over the years, the SPS Programme has supported several projects involving the country.
Along with other partners in the region, Tajikistan participated in a flagship project aimed at promoting Internet connectivity of academic and research communities, known as the “Virtual Silk Highway”.
A workshop “Central Asia’s Strategies and Perceptions on Afghanistan” was led by Tajik and US experts in 2012.
In the environmental sphere, multi-year SPS projects have focused on issues such as managing toxic pollutants and assessing transboundary water pollution in Central Asia.