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Ambassador Hoagland Discusses US Foreign Policy Online with Tajikistan Journalists

Last month, US Ambassador to Tajikistan Richard Hoagland participated in a virtual press conference entitled, “US Foreign Policy during the Second Bush Administration,” organized by IREX through the Internet Access and Training Program (IATP). While the Ambassador joined the online forum from the IATP Alumni Resource Center in Dushanbe, more than 25 local journalists, nongovernmental organization representatives, and others participated in the online chat from nine cities across the country. Topics covered Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, US foreign policy in Tajikistan and the former Soviet Union, as well as grant and exchange opportunities.

The lively discussion went on for over two hours and included an exchange from Kulyab with Asadullo Boboev, a correspondent of Kulyab Pravda Newspaper, who asked Ambassador Hoagland to comment on the role the United States played in Ukrainian elections and its possible influence on the results of Tajikistan's parliamentary elections, which took place on February 27, following the chat. The Ambassador replied, “I want to emphasize that the United States does not interfere in the internal politics of sovereign nations. We do generally advocate and encourage the growth of democracy and freedom of choice for all people… In Ukraine, we congratulated the people for the courage they displayed in standing up for their democratic rights when the government blatantly falsified the presidential election results.”

It was Ambassador Hoagland’s fourth online chat with IATP users. “I enjoy these online press conferences very much,” he commented to participants, “because I probably learn more from you than you do from me. Hearing your questions helps me understand what the people of Tajikistan are thinking and how they see the world.”

Six regional and local media outlets covered the event, including Varorud Information-Analytical Agency, with 50,000 readers; Bomdod Newspaper in Kurgan-Tube, with a circulation of 10,000; and Radio Ozodi/Radio Liberty, with more than a million listeners. IREX-sponsored online chats and conferences represent an important element of its IATP initiative, bringing local populations into better touch with others—both within their own country and abroad—as well as providing access to news and information that is otherwise unavailable or difficult to obtain. As a result of this IATP online press conference, thousands of Tajikistani citizens received detailed information about US foreign policy and learned of the importance of freedom and democracy.