DUSHANBE, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov has confirmed the country's adherence to the further development of relations with Russia.

"Russia and Tajikistan are strategic partners, displaying mutual solidarity on most issues and targets," Rakhmonov said, coming Friday on the air with his annual state of the nation address to parliament.

"We have not forgotten Russia's role in Tajikistan's effort to gain independence," noted the president. Dealing with Russian-Tajik economic relations, Rakhmonov admitted that the level of bilateral trade lagged behind the requirements of our time.

The guarding of the Tajik-Afghan border will be gradually passed from Russian frontier guards to the Tajiks who will finally assume full control over the national borders, he said. "It is already now that 577 kilometres out of 2,912 kilometres of the state border are under the vigil of Tajik fronter guards." He praised the Russians' part in the protection of Tajikistan's borders and expressed hopes that later, when the border will be watched over by the Tajiks, Russian colleagues will render assistance.

Proceeding to economic matters in his message, the president made a point of his discontent with the living standards in the country: "Economic reforms in Tajikistan have had so far no tangible effect on people's life...Lack of jobs is pushing many people to flee the country to earn their living abroad." In the opinion of Rakhmonov, the government should concentrate on job creation and support for small and medium business which are being largely hampered by many obstacles, such as unfair land distribution, red tape and resultant corruption among bureaucrats.

The president believes that this situation can be improved by an early adoption of the law "On licensing" which is to limit interference in business.

"Donors are prepared to give Tajikistan $990 but there are no good projects," he continued. "It often happens that when we do get investors' money it is wasted because of being misused or misappropriated." The president added that he issued a decree on setting up a government special agency to attract investment and work out projects.

Referring to information from the financial control committee, the president reported about quite a number of cases when ministries allowed for the untargeted use of budgetary funds. "The results of audits should be made public regularly so that people might know about them," he said.

(UN statistics: 90 percent of the Tajik population are below the poverty level; the migrant workforce from the republic makes, according to different estimates, up to a million).

"We should give up all manifestations of totalitarianism and adopt democratic methods of state management," said Rakhmonov. "At the same time, Tajikistan will never yield independence for any other benefits... Our standing guard to the interests of our state does not appeal to many." Touching upon future parliamentary elections scheduled for February 2005, the president expressed hopes that these would be a fair performance.

Rakhmonov suggested that MPs, when considering amendments to the law "On elections" invite to hearings the leaders of all political parties of the country. "Listen to them attentively and work with them," urged Rakhmonov.

Tajikistan, he claimed, is very much concerned over the growth of nationalism and neo-fascism in CIS countries as well as over the growth of anti-Islamic moods, which can lead to more tragedies. Tajikistan is like some other CIS stares has been plagued by such an outrage as trade with people. "This contradicts the mentality of our people," said the president, adding that a bill, 'On doing away with trade in people', would be soon submitted for the consideration of parliament.

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