DUSHANBE, July 16 (Itar-Tass) —— Negotiations on the terms of the Russian 201st military base in Tajikistan are proceeding normally in the spirit of strategic partnership, Foreign Minister Khamrakhon Zarifi said.
“That’s for negotiations are for; they are conducted at a table behind tightly closed doors because in a rule of law state people get penalised for disclosing their details,” Zarifi said, commenting on reports claiming that Tajikistan allegedly demands at least 250 million U.S. dollars a year from Russia for further deployment of its base in the country.
“Our government is conducting such negotiations, taking into account the strategic nature of our relations with Russia,” the minister said, adding that it would “premature to speak of any figures” before their completion.
Moscow hopes that negotiations with Tajikistan on further deployment of Russia’s 201st military base in that country will be completed as scheduled, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said earlier.
“Following several Russian and foreign media publications concerning further presence of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan, we would like to say that Moscow, and as far as we know Dushanbe, too, reiterates the indisputable policy towards stronger strategic partnership and allied relations between our countries. This formula of relations is not a tribute to short-lived considerations of expediency, but a result of the century-old good-neighbourliness and time-tested brotherly mutual assistance between the two peoples,” he said.
He recalled that this position had been reiterated during a meeting between the presidents of the two countries in Moscow on May 15, 2012.
Russia and Tajikistan “remain committed to broad bilateral cooperation and interaction in regional organisations in the CIS. Allied ties through the Collective Security Treaty Organisation also serve mutual interests of the two countries,” the spokesman said.
The 201st base is a part of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force created by the CSTO.
The 201st base “serves the interests of security of all CSTO allies, ensuring their joint capability to respond to threats”, Lukashevich said.
The two countries are not engaged in negotiations on further presence of the base in Tajikistan. “This process is evolving dynamically in accordance with the agreement reached by the presidents of the two countries in Moscow on May 15. They are exerting all efforts to implement the presidents’ instructions on time,” he said.
Moscow “is interested to complete this work on a mutually advantageous basis, taking into account the entire range of Russian-Tajik relations”, Lukashevich said.
When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the 201st Motorised Infantry Division was deployed in Tajikistan. Most of the conscripts drafted to the division had grown up in Tajikistan and deserted while the Russian officers kept control of the division's equipment after its subunits were reinforced with Russian special task troops. In September 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin re-established firm Russian control over the division. The Commonwealth of Independent States had created the Collective Peacekeeping Force in Tajikistan, and the 201st Division made up its core.
In 2001, the division was deployed to the Afghan border in expectation of a U.S. attack on Afghanistan, and possible attempts by the Taleban to cross the border into Tajikistan.
On August 13, 2003, the 201st Motorised Infantry Division participated in a joint exercise with the Tajik military outside Dushanbe.
Currently the presence of the Russian troops in Tajikistan is regulated by a bilateral agreement, signed in 2008, on joint planning for the use of troops (forces) to ensure common security. According to the document, Moscow and Dushanbe study the military and political situation in the region, define the contingent of coalition troops composed of Russian and Tajik military personnel, and plan their deployment in accordance with each other's laws.