Finance Minister Mihaly Varga – Photo: MTI

Varga calls on EBRD to focus on central Europe

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should focus more on central Europe, especially the countries neighbouring Ukraine, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga told MTI on Wednesday, after attending a meeting of the EBRD's Board of Governors in Marrakesh.

The EBRD was set up in 1991 to help central and eastern European economies recover after the collapse of Communist regimes in the region. While it is important to support development in Asia or the Sahel region, the EBRD must not lose its focus as a primarily European bank, he said.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia have drafted a proposal for funding for local EBRD branches. “We aim to acquire funding for more projects through the bank,” he said.

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, Varga said Hungary had already spent some 40 billion forints (EUR 105.2m) on handling the refugee crisis. He called it “fair and just” that other countries should shoulder some of the burden.

The EBRD is launching a 2 billion euro programme in support of those countries most affected by the war, especially those neighbouring Ukraine, he said. The scheme could get under way within days, he added. EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said at talks on Tuesday that Hungary would be part of that programme, Varga said.

The programme will aid local authorities and companies investing in projects that aid refugees, such as building refugee shelters or developing education projects, he said.

The bank will also launch a programme to boost post-war reconstruction and infrastructure development in Ukraine, he said. Varga said Hungary was ready to participate in that scheme too.

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