Varga asks EBRD to focus on Central Europe

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

The EBRD was established in 1991 to help the economies of Central and Eastern Europe 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 predominantly European bank, he said.

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

Regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war, Varga said that Hungary had already spent some 40 billion forints (105.2 million euros) to manage the refugee crisis. He called it “just and fair” that other countries should shoulder some of the burden.

The EBRD is launching a €2 billion program to support the countries most affected by the war, especially those neighboring Ukraine, he said. The program could start in a few days, he added. EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said in talks on Tuesday that Hungary would be part of that program, Varga said.

The program will help local authorities and businesses investing in refugee aid projects, such as building refugee shelters or developing education projects, he said.

The bank will also launch a program to boost post-war reconstruction and infrastructure development in Ukraine, he said. Varga said Hungary is also ready to participate in this program.

Mary I. Bruner