Regional hydroelectricity project CASA-1000 has secured another leg of financing. Tajikistan, one of the proposed deal’s signatories, had struggled for several months to pay for power transmission lines that would traverse its territory, stifling the deal and casting doubt on the project’s ultimate success. Several international bodies, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development have nonetheless pledged to fund the Tajik section of CASA-1000.
These organizations will in tandem with the World Bank make each make sizeable investments of up to $65mn to see the project to fruition. The Tajik Minsiter of Energy and Water Resources announced that all payments will be “finalized and processed” by the end of Q1 2015, though this remains to be seen given the project’s long history of delays and minor complicating obstacles. CASA-1000 is expected to become operational by 2018 under the auspices of the World Bank, which has shepherded the project since its inception and has allocated some $526mn to see it completed.
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- The Collective Security Treaty Organization has elected Tajik representative Badriddin Mirzoyev to serve as the new chairman for the organization’s permanent council. Tajikistan recently took over the presidency of the organization, making the naming of a Tajik chairman obligatory. The CSTO occupies itself with regional military affairs, and is comprised of Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The group came into being on May 15 1992.
- The European Union’s highest court annulled an array of sanctions leveled against leading Iranian banking and shipping companies. Iranian Bank Tejarat had been proscribed from doing business with European banks, though if the European Union loses its appeal a large amount of Western firms would technically be able to reengage in business with the bank. The European Union is however expected to levy identical sanctions under a new pretext should the sanctions be lifted.
- Reports emerging from Tajikistan detail an apparent buildup of Afghan “militants” along the Tajik-Afghan border. The Tajik government declared its forces to be “ready” should the militants cross the border for any purpose, though the government has not identified definitively to which extremist group the “militants” allegedly belong. The government has speculated that they could be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or even of the Taliban, though the latter has generally shunned expansionist activities.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is currently visiting with Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov to make a case for increased trade and the development of an Afghanistan-Caspian supply route. The relationship between the two presidents began auspiciously, and trade between the countries exceeded $1bn USD in 2014, with double that amount expected in 2015. Ghani has called for the Afghan parliament not to rely on Western countries for aid, and to instead bolster cooperation with other nations in the region.
- Chinese efforts to bolster usage of renewable energy have been made evident in Xinjiang province. Although politically troubled, the restive province has shown itself to be ideal for wind and solar projects. Wind energy in Xinjiang in 2014 increased by approximately 60% from 2013. The high concentration of turbines in Xinjiang accounts for nearly 40% of China’s total usage of aeolic energy.