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Since 1996 the Bank’s activities in the Republic of Belarus have been limited by the country’s uneven progress in democratic and market-oriented transition. Previous Country Strategies have highlighted concerns about the Belarusian authorities’ commitment to and application of the principles of multiparty democracy, pluralism and market economics, as contained in Article 1 of the Agreement Establishing the Bank. As a result of the difficult operational environment, the Bank’s engagement with Belarus has been constrained.
The Bank remains seriously concerned about the uneven progress Belarus made toward the application of principles of multiparty democracy and pluralism during the previous Strategy period. The Belarusian state continues to play a dominant role in the country’s political and economic life. Political power is highly concentrated in the presidency. International observers from the OSCE and Council of Europe have judged successive elections as deeply flawed. The authorities’ commitment to political pluralism, media freedom, the independence of civil society and the legitimacy of political opposition is uncertain. The use of wage restrictions, price controls and directed lending continue to characterise the state’s centralised management of the Belarusian economy.
In this context, the calibrated strategic approach to Belarus adopted in December 2009 and recalibrated in 2011 and 2012 to focus the Bank’s operations more intently on the private sector has been an effective and flexible tool for responding to the changing political and economic environment in Belarus. Under the calibrated approach, the Bank was able to respond nimbly and in a differentiated manner to political developments after the flawed 2010 presidential elections, while opening up new areas of activity and policy dialogue to promote private sector development and entrepreneurial activity.
The EBRD and Belarus
The current political, economic and structural reform environment in Belarus warrants the continued application of a calibrated strategic approach, incorporating both political and economic benchmarks to gauge the country’s progress or regress against its key Article 1 commitments and adjusting the Bank’s operational response accordingly. In keeping with the calibrated strategic approach, the Bank’s overall engagement in Belarus will continue to be modulated to reflect the country’s progress against annually updated political and economic benchmarks.
In light of recent political and economic developments, while continuing its policy of constructive engagement to promote reform, the Bank will further calibrate its engagement in Belarus to limit its involvement with state-owned enterprises in the areas of trade finance, energy efficiency credit lines and private equity funds.
Last updated 13 March 2013