DUSHANBE, September 26 (Itar-Tass) - Tajikistan's first-ever female presidential candidate, lawyer and human rights activist Oynihol Bobonazarova, looks ahead to an election victory which would steer a strong strategic partnership in both nations' interests, she told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
“In the event of our election victory, we will naturally reconsider some priorities in foreign policy and economic activity, making them more transparent and open for people. However, Russia will remain our major strategic partner,” she said.
“Russia participates in a wide range of significant energy projects in Tajikistan, and a large number of our labour migrants work in Russia. There are, besides, many other factors for close partner relations which should be mutually beneficial and take into account the national interests of our countries,” she added.
Bobonazarova said she wanted good relations with Tajikistan's northern neighbour, Uzbekistan. “We should strengthen friendship with our closest neighbours - Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states - instead of looking for friends far from home.”
The presidential hopeful said she supported the presence of Russia's 201st military base, on which an agreement will be ratified on October 1 in the lower house of the Tajik parliament. ”The presence of Russian servicemen belonging to the peacekeeping force of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) is of current importance considering NATO's withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, which will undoubtedly complicate the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border and in the region as a whole,” she said. “We are hoping that Russian peacekeepers will perform their tasks according to their mandates in the event of danger from outside.”
The 65-year-old Bobonazarova, nominated as a single candidate by the Union of Reformist Forces of Tajikistan (URFT) - a coalition of Tajik opposition groups - is the first woman in the country to run for the presidency.
“I am confident of winning if the electoral campaign is transparent, democratic and honest, as promised by Tajikistan's incumbent President Emomali Rahmon,” she said.