EBRD Annual Meeting 2014: High level political event

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD started its 23rd Annual Meeting with a strong call to re-ignite the reform process in the transition countries. In his opening address EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said today in Warsaw: “We have to be honest about the challenges that many of our countries face. A number are ‘Stuck in Transition’. Convergence with the EU-15 has slowed or even stopped in many countries. “Politics,” Sir Suma said, “is sometimes turning against markets.”

In order to tackle these challenges the Bank will propose to its shareholders new “medium-term directions”. These include: help to build resilience into the transition process, in terms of sound institutions, inclusion and economic structures. Second, the EBRD would promote economic integration both globally and regionally and third it would aim to do much more to address common global challenges such as climate change, water scarcity and food security.

“It is the task of governments to adopt policies that hasten transition. It is the role of the EBRD to help governments in our regions of operations formulate those policies and build those institutions. It is also the role of the EBRD to provide the finance, largely to the private sector, for projects that will have sustainable impact because the right policies and resilient institutions are in place,” Sir Suma said.

President Chakrabarti’s opening remarks were preceded by a keynote speech by Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who said that it was the reform of institutions and the adoption of European standards – particularly transparency and respect for the rules of the democratic process – that had enabled Poland to release the potential of the private sector. The EBRD, PM Tusk said, had played a vital role in upholding standards and helping to build better institutions in Poland and across the region.

PM Tusk also voiced his “grave concern” about the situation in Ukraine. He highlighted that Poland and Ukraine had a “similar point of departure” at the start of transition, but that Poland had succeeded in improving living standards for its people because it had built strong institutions. Sir Suma noted that the EBRD had just signed an anti-corruption initiative with the Ukrainian government, which will help to build Ukraine's resilience. “This is a sign of what can be achieved through enhanced policy dialogue,” he underlined.

The opening session of the Board of Governors was followed by a high-level political event with Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro, Iurie Leancă, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Djoomart Otorbaev, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, and Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy as speakers. They applauded the changes in the EBRD region in the 25 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain and underlined the lessons learned from those developments for the challenges that lie ahead.

The transition to democracy and market economies in central and eastern Europe has been remarkably successful. Today, these countries are established members of the European Union, having joined the EU exactly 10 years ago. In this process of transition the EU served as an external anchor which provided stability and encouragement to proceed with the often-painful reforms which eventually transformed distorted, centrally planned economies into well-functioning market economies and consolidated pluralistic democracies.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Confirmed speakers