Tajikistan's president said the revolt that toppled the government in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan was cause for concern and cautioned that political and social stability were needed in his country to ensure economic progress.
Thousands of people stormed government buildings in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek this month forcing President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured in the clashes.
"The events that have taken place in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan are a serious concern to us although those are their internal affairs," President Imomali Rakhmon told parliament on Saturday in his annual address.
"Of course, to secure development, progress and improvements in the country (Tajikistan) we need, first of all, political and social stability."
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are among the poorest countries in the former Soviet Union and both depend heavily on remittances from migrant labourers who work mainly in Russia.
Utility tariff hikes that diminished already low incomes of many Kyrgyz were one of the triggers behind the last wave of protest that culminated in the revolt. Rakhmon said his government had been successful in fighting poverty.
"The poverty rate decreased from 73 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2007," he said, adding the rate has been cut to 50 percent by the end of 2009 and would be further reduced to 40 percent by 2012.
Rakhmon, in power since 1992, also touched indirectly on the competing interests of Russia and the United States in the Central Asia.
Deposed Kyrgyz leader Bakiyev said this week that Russia's anger at his refusal to shut down a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan was a factor in the revolt.
"Our region today is a point where different interests clash," Rakhmon said. "Central Asia, as a fragile region, should not be an arena of instability and conflict."
ReutersLast Mod: 24 Nisan 2010, 17:02