Our country gained independence four years ago. This historical event enabled not only our country but also the state air company, Tojikiston, to develop independence. In conditions of instability, fratricidal war and deep economic crisis, civil aviation - one of the most important branches of the Republic's national economy - continued working regularly, not stopping for any reason. Moreover, in these times of crisis we took a risk and decided to join the routes of foreign countries without breaking ties with CIS countries. The experiment proved a success.
Within three years we have opened about thirty new air routes which connect Tajikistan with more than forty cities in different countries around Asia and Europe. The aviation's administration consists of a young and forward-looking team (Vilsour Avidzba, Firuz Ishankulov, Rustam Rustamov, Valeri Sharipov, Tashpulat Hamidov and others) who worked in spite of great hardships in maintaining the aircraft and motor fleet and its highly qualified staff, and entered unknown markets. Though a lot of staff were forced to leave the Republic, our systems are still in good condition owing to the effective work of our highly skilled technical and flight staff.
The specialist services of our ground staff and the Department of Management of Air Traffic work together selflessly to provide a reliable locater and escort service for transit on the numerous new Europe-Asia air corridors. Today many air companies know the call sign 'Dushanbe'.
Tajikistan is a land of mountains, which occupy 93% of the country. It is a land of innumerable treasures: gold, silver, rare metals, precious stones, coal and oil in abundant supply. It is a national necessity to quarry all these riches for the benefit of the Tajik people. Air transport plays a vital role in fulfilling this strategic aim; its part in the development of the economic and cultural life of the Republic is very important.
With routes that exit in many foreign countries (currently including charter and scheduled flights to Delhi, Karachi, Mashhad, Shardjah and Istambul from the airports of Dushanbe and Khudjand) the role of civil aviation is rapidly growing. Taking into account our very advantageous geographical location (the Republic is situated in Central Asia on the route from Europe to the South-Eastern countries) we will work intensively to widen the radius of flights and actively co-operate with other air companies. The opening of the third international Tajikistan air harbour at Kulyab, which recently saw its first technical flight, will also assist in our operations. The fact that the company is a member of many international organisations assists it in widening its international activity.
For more than a year the company has been working productively with investors, including the EBRD, with whose help we started the reconstruction of the runway at Dushanbe, aided by a grant from Holland. Once the reconstruction is finished the airport will accept all types of aircraft without limit.
In the long term we are intending to develop the international air company through mutual use of ground leases with other international air routes. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Tajikistan, we will be able to operate aircraft such as TU-154M, A-310-300, A-320, B-757 and B-767, which will prove most effective on such prospective routes as Delhi-Dushanbe-London, Delhi-Dushanbe-Frankfurt-Maine and Dushanbe-UAE.
Totally self-financed, the Tojikiston air company can honour all the necessary international finance charges and improve the service level in the air as well as on the ground. We are planning to rebuild the international terminal and improve the air navigation system which will raise the standard of passenger service.
All these problems will be solved successfully if we continue to train our highly qualified specialists and service staff Tajikistan, a country of innumerable treasures, is waiting to greet for business people from around the world. They can be confident that their investments in the implementation of our aviation projects will be repaid threefold.