Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Tajikistan Bursts onto London Scene

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 10th September, 2019

TajikistanTajikistan is the least known of the central Asian republics — and I don’t just say that because it is the only “stan” that I have not yet visited. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and its major constituent states became independent countries, Tajikistan descended into a brutal civil war that would prevent it enjoying the sort of economic development experienced by several its neighbours and playing a full part on the international stage. Still working at BBC World Service in Bush House at the time, I thought of going to Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, but was warned that it was too dangerous and that I might well be kidnapped. That’s assuming I was granted a visa, of course.

Samir AbdourazakovHowever, that situation has since changed dramatically and when Tajikistan posted a dynamic young Ambassador, Masud Khalifazoda, to London earlier this year it was with a determination to make a mark in what is still one of the world’s premier capitals. A Tajik-British Chamber of Commerce has been established as well as a friendship society and tourism is being promoted. Tajikistan is a mountainous country with hundreds of lakes making it an extremely attractive but not yet popular destination. There was an exhibition of beautiful scenic photographs at the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane last night before the country’s National Independence Day reception (a first in London), at which Ambassador Khalifazoda gave one of the wittiest speeches I have ever heard at a diplomatic event. This is a man who will really make his and his country’s presence felt. A charming touch at the reception was that a 10-year-old child prodigy pianist, Samir Abdourazakov, gave a brilliant performance of Scarlatti and Rachmaninov, among others, seemingly unfazed by the chattering guests. Dushanbe is definitely now top of my bucket list!

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