Projects / Regionalism in Tajikistan

Regionalism and role of the Central Government as a mediator: Swiss and Tajik experiences
1 May 2002 - 31 April 2003

Tajikistan, in its present borders, is a country created by the Soviet Union in 1926. The main historical Tajik cultural and political centres were not included into the newly formed country. The new country’s name - «Tajikistan» was given to a conglomerate of regions separated from each other geographically (by high mountainous ranges) and historically (they used to belong to different political formations). Subsequently, there are major ethnic, linguistic and even religious differences among the population of different regions, which now comprise the Republic of Tajikistan.

Before the disintegration of the USSR the struggle for power between representatives of different regions had only hidden forms due to the strict control conducted by the Soviet Central Government. However, after having gained independence in 1991 representatives of different regions in Tajikistan started a new stage of political struggle for power sharing in the republic. This struggle finally resulted in a civil war, which continued for almost five years. Local and international experts agree that regionalism was one of the main reasons of the Tajik civil war, as well as for the ongoing political and social instability in the country.

Nowadays one of thee main problems for the Tajik political leadership is to create and maintain equilibrium between the different regions. The representation of all the regions in the Central Government is thus central to the future of the country.

Connected to this problem are the following questions:

How to create a strong political and economic centre that is able to represent the interests of the different segments composing a multicultural country?
At the same time, how to distribute fairly responsibilities and means between the Central Government and the regions?

The project will propose an informal platform for sustaining the debate on statehood and regionalism in Tajikistan and will support the process of transferring the ideas and solutions proposed by the participants to such debate into concrete proposals for action.

Expected Results
Develop an informal platform for a political discussion on statehood and the role of region in Tajikistan;
During a study tour to Switzerland the participants have debated Tajik challenges such as how to allocate duties between different levels of government in Tajikistan, representation of regions in the central government, etc. The Swiss model of statehood, existing mechanism of cooperation and allocation of responsibilities between the Swiss federal government and the cantons and the mechanisms which Switzerland has developed in order to allow the different linguistic regions to coexist, will be used as inspiration for a dialogue process among the group of participants about the situation in Tajikistan.
Back in Tajikistan, the process started in Switzerland will be followed-up by several activities both in Dushanbe and in the regions. Some of the ideas and approaches developed by the participants will possibly be integrated in the frame of ongoing development cooperation projects.
The project will produce relevant reports on the issue of regionalism in Tajikistan.

Project Partners
Public Committee for Democratic Processes, Dushanbe
Tajik Centre for Citizens’ Education, Dushanbe
Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg

Mandated by
Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Political Division IV

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