Cooperation between Tajikistan and Georgia has great potential.  In particular, Tajikistan could benefit from Georgia’s successful reform experience, including police reforms and the integration of national minorities, Navrouz Karimov, a member of the School of Analytics, noted on September 25.

Tajikistan and Georgia are reportedly similar in many ways.  Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union; the territories are predominantly mountainous and are in Russia’s sphere of interest.  Unlike Tajikistan, which has chosen to remain a loyal ally of Russia, Georgia has always tried to move toward the West.

The first years of independence saw civil wars for power in both countries, which lasted until 1993 in Georgia and until 1997 in Tajikistan.

Emomali Rahmon, who assumed the presidency in Tajikistan in 1994, has been in power unchallenged to this day.  In Georgia, on the other hand, the opposition is still active and power changes periodically.

The conditions for reforms in Georgia were reportedly formed by the so-called “Rose Revolution” of 2003, during which the corrupt regime of President Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown.  President Mikheil Saakashvili, who won the elections, introduced a series of reforms in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of power.

Amid euphoria and popular thirst for change, these reforms have reportedly been swift, not always successful. But Saakashvili was able to significantly reduce the level of corruption in the country.

In Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Georgia ranks 55th, while Tajikistan ranks 150th.  And in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business, Georgia ranks 7th, while Tajikistan is 106th.

The analyst notes that Tajikistan’s low development indicators in relation to Georgia can be explained by the fact that the reforms implemented in Tajikistan are fragmented, often their potential is not realized, and changes remain only on paper.

The article says Georgia’s experience with the integration of ethnic minorities is a worthwhile topic of research.  Especially because it takes place in conditions when about 20% of Georgian territories – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are occupied by Russia.  Being in isolation, the state program for the integration of national minorities does not apply to the residents of these territories. But the government is reportedly trying to create the necessary infrastructure on the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by building hospitals there.

In addition, there has reportedly been an attempt to issue so-called neutral passports, recognized by the UN, in which citizenship is not specified, but they allow residents of the self-proclaimed republics to visit a limited number of foreign countries.  The idea was that minorities who did not want Georgian citizenship, for the time being, would agree to an intermediate (neutral) document and refuse Russian passports.

This idea, however, did not become popular because the neutral document gave no preferences, while the Russian passport allowed people to receive salaries and pensions. In addition, people still perceived these passports as Georgian.

The educational program “4+1” which allowed applicants from national minorities to take general knowledge examinations in their native language can be considered more successful.  And before passing to profile disciplines – students have to study the Georgian language for 1 year.

There are also separate public organizations in Georgia that deal with issues of ethnic minorities.

In Tajikistan, issues of integration of national minorities do not receive as much attention as “national unity”.  According to Karimov, it can only be assumed that the Tajik authorities fear a split in society and the emergence of conflict situations.

Expert also notes that the problems faced by Tajikistan and Georgia are similar in many respects. Among them is the need to diversify the economy from overdependence on Russia.