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30 September 2003


Distinguished Mr. President, Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, exactly ten years ago the Head of the Republic of Tajikistan for the first time addressed world leaders from the high rostrum of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

At that moment, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, our country was making first steps as an equal member of the community of nations.

The establishment of Tajikistan as a modern democratic secular state coincided with the necessity to search for our own ways of efficient interaction in the rapidly changing world. Against the background of the inter-Tajik conflict we, within a short period of time, had to find effective methods of dealing with the huge political, social and economic problems of the transitional period.

Today, full with pride in the peace loving, industrious and talented people of Tajikistan I am reporting to you, distinguished representatives of the world's countries, that we have emerged from the toughest trial that befell our country, with dignity.

It stands to reason that Tajikistan, its people and its statehood, managed to withstand the trial largely due to support of the international community. The USA and Russia, China and Japan, India and Iran, the European Union and the Central Asia states, alongside with many other large and small countries, rendered support to the young Tajik state during that dramatic period of our history.

A special role in this process was played by the United Nations.

Tajikistan highly appreciates this support and in its turn is striving to be a responsible member of the international community.

In terms of a world or national history ten years may not be sufficient time for summing up the accomplishments. However, the comprehension of multi-faceted and dramatic events that took place at the end of the 20th century and of those that happened early in this century, as well as the lessons that can be drawn from them, could be very instructional for all of us, as we are driven by a common aspiration to permanently improve the world's structure.

It is quite obvious for Tajikistan that the principle conclusion to be drawn can be reduced to the following: in the future there should prevail a democracy within the state sovereign boundaries and international political and economic relations should be democraticized.

The lesson drawn is that the process of establishing a democratic society has certain features that are common for many countries, but that in each nation this process takes on a unique character. Our own experience confirms that today there are no countries or peoples who do not accept democracy or who are not prepared for it. The peoples of Asia cherish the same values as the peoples of Europe, America or Africa.

It is also obvious that specific conditions, as well as each nation's historical heritage and cultural traditions, surely will influence the speed and forms of the democratic process in each country. This very subject became an issue for a substantial discussion at the 5th Conference of New and Restored Democracies that was recently held in Mongolia. We believe that the results of this discussion will give a new impetus to the democratic processes everywhere, including Asia.

Establishing a democracy should not be regarded as a simple process, but rather as a most complicated evolutionary one. In this sense the experience gained by the developed democracies is really priceless.

However, even they are still trying to optimally balance the interests of a state and an individual, to find an answer to the question of how to meet the primary needs of their citizens while accepting the primacy of the right to private property in a market economy.

The people of Tajikistan won their independence and democracy through enormous suffering and deprivation.

Peace prevailed in our country only after we realized that a national accord, as the primary goal of society, should take precedence over political ambitions and military confrontation, and that our society should not only be united by a strong desire to survive, but be also driven by a strong belief in its creative capacity.

It would be more prudent to see a future Tajikistan as a developed democracy and a prospering secular state backed up by a solid civil society. During his visit to Tajikistan Mr. Kofi Annan could see the tangible results of UN peacekeeping activities and the striking change in the mood of the Tajik people, who now look with confidence to the future of their children and their country.

We are convinced that the democratic processes in Tajikistan will gain momentum. We have all of the prerequisites for this. The restoration of peace in Tajikistan in 1997 laid down a solid foundation for a secular democratic state. The constitution was adopted by a national referendum; the bodies of power have been performing efficiently at all levels, reflecting the whole spectrum of a busy political life of the country.

It does not imply that our young democracy is not vulnerable, or that nothing threatens it. Being a President who knows the aspirations and difficulties of the people who entrusted me with such a high office, I will be sincere and share with you some of my considerations. They concern both our internal and external affairs, including the United Nations.

First of all, we have no right to discredit the idea of a democracy, with which the Tajik society still associates its hope for a better life.

However, experience shows that no simple formulas are available for translating a political process into a developed economy. Moreover, the experience gained by Tajikistan, convincingly demonstrates the need for a comprehensive post-conflict rehabilitation. Improvement of practical results in the area of a post-conflict rehabilitation should be regarded by the UN agencies and the international community as an issue of top priority. Areas of conflict should be transformed into areas of stability, and should be used as examples for preventing new tragedies.

The word given by the donors should be not only promising but rather responsible. The central coordinating role in this respect should, undoubtedly, be played by the UN.

We are deeply grateful to the numerous friends of Tajikistan, including the international finance institutions, for their support. We attach special significance to our cooperation with the UNDP and other UN agencies. We regard as important the work done by the UN Office on Peace Building, which assists the international community in a better understanding of the positive processes in our country, its interests and needs.

Now, at the new level of development that Tajikistan has embarked on we especially appreciate that kind of assistance that will help us achieve our priority goals. Today, as never before, Tajikistan needs assistance and practical support that could be instrumental in getting our extensive human and nature resources employed in the most efficient manner. We are committed to making our economy up-to-date and competitive, so that in the future, along with other accomplishments, we can eradicate poverty.

It's regretful to note that in spite of numerous positive achievements in international affairs in recent years, the international community still is incapable of dealing with poverty to the fullest possible extent. Though poverty was on the agenda of numerous conferences and forums, no specific actions towards eliminating poverty have followed. The ever-increasing gap between the poor and wealthy countries is becoming a challenge of global dimensions and is threatening to become a major obstacle to a harmonic development both of individual countries and the community of nations as a whole.

Surely, the burden of addressing social and economic problems rests primarily on our own shoulders.

However, it is quite fair for developing countries to expect that they can be relieved from external difficulties associated with integration into the world economy. In our case these expectations are related to the opportunity to have access to investments, markets and high technologies. Many of the problems that became issues at the international conference on land locked countries are relevant to ours, particularly, closed borders which create barriers to a free transfer of goods, services, capital and labor.

Let me refer to one of those issues, to the issue of freshwater. We are happy that the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan to proclaim the International Year of Freshwater, 2003 was enthusiastically supported by the international community. Experience has shown that it was a timely decision that met the expectations of all of us.

Shortage of freshwater is one of the most urgent concerns of the new millennium. The need in water for producing sufficient food has been increasing year by year.

To support the above statement I will cite the following numbers: 1. 2 billion people do not have access to freshwater. Annually, more than five million people die from water-related diseases. According to the estimates made by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, meeting the food needs of the growing world population in thirty years will require an increase in food production by 60% from today's level. By 2030 one out of five developing countries will be experiencing enormous difficulties due to current and future water shortage.

In order to support economic growth and lessen the poverty burden, one needs significant investments for both updating technologies and improving water resources management.

Guided by the Water Appeal adopted on 1St September 2003 by the participants of the International Freshwater Forum in Dushanbe, I propose that the years of 2005 through 2015 be proclaimed as the International Decade of Freshwater.

The adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution on this vital matter will logically extend the idea of the International Year of Freshwater and will be in accord with the provisions of the Millennium Declaration, which set a goal of halving by 2015 the number of people that lack access to freshwater and sanitation.

A Freshwater decade will allow the international community to keep focusing on the issue of shortage of water, this common heritage of the mankind which is of fundamental importance for preserving life on Earth and ensuring sustainable development.

Mr. President,

It is known that terrorism also poses a threat to democracy. Being for ten years sort of "a buffer zone" for expanding terror in Central Asia and other countries, Tajikistan has first hand experience with this issue. Just for this reason, Tajikistan has been an active participant in all of the measures and efforts aimed at uprooting this evil.

We are equally resolute in condemning and counteracting all types of terrorism, no matter what motives could be behind the violence and frightening of innocent people. This battle can be won only through united efforts. We should not allow any selectiveness or double standards.

However, it is known that one cannot curb terrorism only by military methods. It would be equally wrong to believe that this phenomenon is rooted in a single religion or culture. Terrorism does not only accept a democracy. It takes advantage of injustices and people's hurt feelings, of arrogance of some and a feeling of humiliation of others.

Terrorism shows up in a place where one "absolute truth", in quotation marks, is confronted by another one. And though terrorism has nothing to do with the conflict of civilizations, the extension of a dialogue among civilizations that was begun by the General Assembly in 1998 would contribute to a better mutual understanding, the shortage of which is quite obvious.

Dialogue is always more constructive than war. Dialogue conducted in all directions will liberate international relations from fear and mistrust. Dialogue will allow to make international cooperation constructive and creative.

Due to consolidated efforts, a severe blow was struck at terrorism as an organized phenomenon, but it has not been uprooted as yet. One of the lessons drawn in the course of this battle, in which Tajikistan is an active participant, is that international terrorism does not have an ideology, nor a nation, nor a homeland.

Yet another thing has become known: terrorism cannot exist without financial and logistical support. It is in this venue that a democracy, besides terror, is faced with another threat, which is no less frightening, that is the threat of narcotics aggression.

The illicit trade of drugs has become one of the major sources of financing for international terrorism. The urgency and magnitude of the problems related to drugs and their illicit trafficking is vivid proof of a global menace that endangers international stability and security as a whole.

Tajikistan has an extensive border with Afghanistan, and finds itself in a position between the world's major producer of opium and heroin and drug consuming countries, to which international organized crime is smuggling its "white death".

As President of the country, I set as an objective resolutely curbing drug trafficking via Tajikistan, and I regard this issue as one of the nation's top priorities.

The UN Secretary -General, Mr. Kofi Annan visited Tajikistan last year, and had an opportunity to personally witness the high professional skills and dedication of staff members of the Agency for Drug Control that had been established with the support of the International community. According the UN data, Tajikistan ranks forth in the world, and first in the CIS, in terms of drugs withdrawn from trade. Due to our efforts over the last four years more than one billion Am. dollars worth of drugs have been confiscated from drug traders.

But the struggle against narcotic aggression that generates multibillion profits in countries located far from Tajikistan can become a success only with a consolidation of collective efforts.

Given the increased narcotic threat, and in order to expand multilateral cooperation in fighting it, Tajikistan proposes that a global partnership for counteracting the narcotic threat be established. This unique broad antinarcotic coalition could become a reliable barrier to the expansion of this evil.

The UN Secretary-General could become coordinator of such a partnership, and the UN Office on Drug control could become its central executive body.

Such a global partnership must coordinate all efforts in the field at all levels, including regional.

I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to draw your attention to another issue, that could not but give rise to our concern.

Recently certain circles of people, using the world mass media, have been attempting to equate such grave threats to the mankind as terrorism and extremism with the holy religion of Islam. Such an interpretation distorts the peaceful essence of Islam and presents this religion to the international community as a source of evil and violence, giving rise to hostility towards the whole Muslim world and, unwillingly, encouraging neo-fascist and chauvinistic trends.

Once again, we must emphasize that the acts of terror that are taking place in various countries, are the crimes committed by cruel, merciless people, driven by lust for power and personal gains, who essentially have nothing to do with the holy religion of the world's Muslims.

Humanity should understand that Islam is not a religion of violence, but like the world's other religions calls people for mercy and compassion, for peace and accord.

Mr. President,

Tajikistan is in favor of an increased regional cooperation in all areas. Our goal is to create in Central Asia a belt of peace and stability, harmony and prosperity.

Turning Central Asia into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction is a matter of principle for Tajikistan, and that is why my country approved of the idea of establishing a nuclear free zone in the region.

Meanwhile, I would like to join the common concern over increased difficulties related to non-proliferation of such types of weapon in the world, including South Asia. I am convinced that the time has come not to weaken but rather intensify collective efforts and expand disarmament mechanisms.

Another issue has become a challenge of the 21s` century. That is the increasing number of the territories aspiring to the status of states, but not recognized as such by the international community.

These territories become criminalized from inside, establish external ties that are not quite legal and become catalysts for regional conflicts.

For this reason it is in the interests of the international community to start, in the short term, developing universal criteria for international acknowledgment of states.

By doing so it would be possible to prevent kindling of separatist moods in some regions that are fraught with negative consequences for the destinies of many peoples and states.

Mr. President,

It is with satisfaction that Tajikistan notes considerable progress in the revival of Afghanistan.

We are enthusiastic about how the international community is resolute in supporting the processes of national accord and peace building in our neighboring country. Tajikistan is deeply aware of the necessity of rendering international support to Afghanistan, and will increase its assistance to the efforts undertaken by the Afghanistan Government headed by Mr. Khamid Karzai.

Meanwhile, we are persistent in calling on the international community not to lessen attention towards the needs of this country, to renew its energetic commitment to rendering support to positive changes, to give a new impetus to the peace process, making it irreversible, and to dramatically increase efforts to uproot drug production in Afghanistan.

Given the global danger of the drug problem I once again call on the international community and relevant international organizations to develop a unified program for actions aimed at uprooting the growth, manufacture and dissemination of drugs in this country.

The situation in Iraq continues to give rise to our pain and concern. Conditions there are still far from normal. It's not only a matter of the post- military environment, lost lives of military personnel, and, even more sadly, of peaceful citizens. It's a matter of a lack of acceptable living conditions for many Iraqi people.

Though positive changes are quite obvious, most important is to restore the sovereignty of Iraq. We share the opinion of the majority with regard to the fact that the Iraqi people itself should determine its future and that the international community embodied by the UN should be called to render assistance in the implementation of this goal.

Mr. President,

Each people follow its own road to democracy. However, only together can we deal with challenges and threats that we face on this road.

The UN still remains an ultimate, indeed a unique mechanism for collective actions to address global issues. The noble goals for humanity development set in the Millennium Declaration, which was signed by Tajikistan, among others, is convincing proof to this.

The UN has united practically all countries of the world. Each of us, both the UN founders and those who joined it quite recently, gave a pledge to observe its Charter. And this is the way it should be.

Our Organization is currently going through another trial, a search for efficient answers under new circumstances and new needs of world development.

The point is that the Organization and its major bodies should keep up with the processes undergoing in the permanently changing world. Though reform of the UN is going on, the time has come to channel practical activities of all its bodies towards issues of real priority.

In the field of international peace and security the focus should be on prevention of military conflicts, both intergovernmental and internal.

The General Assembly, the ECOSOC and all other components of the UN system are faced with the necessity to find convincing answers to the globalization process, to bridging the gap between the industrial and developing countries.

We expect improved professional skills from the Secretariat staff members, increased practical outcome of their work and the work of all UN agencies, for the benefit of all member states.

The feeling that the UN is going through a crises, that appeared at some point, is already fading. It is substituted by the awareness of the need to strengthen the Organization, as well as collective interaction within its framework.

Preservation and development of the Organization is our common goal, since the international community does not have any other similar universal mechanism.

The UN is the heritage of all humanity. Tajikistan will be resolute in doing everything possible for the successful implementation of the UN's noble mission for the benefit of all mankind.

Thank you for attention.