By Olga Belyavskaya
According to Paul-Henri Forestier, the EBRD Board of Directors adopted a new strategy of co-operation with Belarus in 2009. “It allows us to co-operate with Belarus’ state sector, with some restrictions,” he explains, adding that the strategy has aided certain progress in EBRD-Belarus relations. However, Mr. Forestier believes that ‘levels of investment leave much to be desired’.
Mr. Forestier admits that Belarus has played an active role in creating the EBRD. “I’d like to personally thank you for this. You played a crucial role in creating the EBRD Office in Belarus from 1993-1994,” he told Mr. Myasnikovich. Belarus joined the agreement to set up the EBRD in 1992, becoming a member; it currently owns 4,000 shares — worth 40m Euros (or 0.2 percent of the bank’s authorised capital). Since 1992, Belarus has realised several projects under the Government’s guarantees, worth $175.1m. These include a fruit and vegetable wholesale marketplace in Minsk, the revamping of the Brest-Minsk-Russian border motorway, the modernisation of a CHP-plant in Orsha, the development of Belarus’ electric communications system and the promotion of small and medium-sized businesses.
At present, EBRD-Belarus co-operation follows the 2010-2012 strategy, encouraging the promotion of small and medium-sized businesses and trade liberalisation, the commercialisation of municipal infrastructure, and the improvement of environmental protection standards and energy efficiency. In line with the strategy, the bank operates mostly within the private sector.
“We hope for active and constructive co-operation with the EBRD, on a reciprocal basis,” stresses Mr. Myasnikovich. Speaking of current EBRD projects in Belarus, he notes that the Government aims to create favourable conditions for their implementation. “I think a balance of interests will be maintained,” Mr. Myasnikovich asserts.