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EU Reforms Meet Opposition

By News Briefing Central Asia
A European Union project for civil service reform in Tajikistan is failing to win support from the officials it is meant to shake up, say observers.

Last week, the EU allocated an additional 400,000 euro for the second phase of a project to promote reform in Tajikistan’s civil service.

The first stage of the project, which started in 2005 and cost 900,000 euro, saw EU bodies assist in training state officials, preparing educational material, drafting state service laws and developing further plans for reform.

There are currently around 17,000 state officials in Tajikistan.

NBCentralAsia experts say that officials were apathetic during the first stage of the project and the whole initiative is being undermined.

“None of the reforms related to recruitment policy and the electoral process have brought tangible results because [senior civil servants] aren't ready to make concessions,” said Shokirjon Hakimov, deputy head of the Social Democratic Party.

A diplomatic source said that everything depended on officials’ attitude. There have been a lot of positive changes, such as the creation of the institute for training state officials, he says. But changes should be introduced defining how civil servants are recruited, so that all appointments are transparent and made on a competitive basis.

Political scientist Khodi Abdujabbor has criticised the EU for not considering the political culture in Tajikistan when implementing this initiative.

“It is possible to expect positive results from these reforms but only if western standards and experiences are adjusted to the reality in Tajikistan, however I don’t see that happening,” he said.

But supporters of the programme say it has not been running long enough to expect significant changes immediately.

Munira Inoyatova, director of the advanced training institute in Tajikistan, is in favour of extending the EU project beyond the second phase, suggesting it would be wrong to stop halfway.

“An ideal civil service creates harmony between the state and the people,” said Inoyatova. “Unfortunately, that harmony has not been attained in [Tajikistan], but we are going to strive for it, although we will need several more years.”

(News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)