The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Belarus inked the Framework Agreement on Cooperation on May 15, which paves the way for the lender to invest up to €200mn in Belarusian projects, the Foreign Ministry in Minsk said in a statement published the same day.
"Now all three major European financial institutions (EIB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Northern Investment Bank) have the opportunity to work in Belarus," the ministry's statement reads.
Until recently, the EIB would not operate in Belarus due to disputes over its civil rights record. According to the lender, its potential activity in the country is dependent on a decision being passed by the EU Council and the European Parliament.
In 2016, the EBRD adopted a new four-year cooperative strategy for Belarus, creating an opportunity for enhanced engagement with the Belarusian authorities. However, in 2011 it revised its approach to Belarus due to the disputed 2010 presidential election and the continued violations of human rights. Instead it focussed on developing only the private sector and refused to give financial or technical support to the central authorities.
Last year, the multinational lender and the Belarusian government agreed to privatise Belinvestbank after broadening its business activities and outreach. The EBRD bought a stake of 25% plus one share in the bank, after which controlling stakes were sold to one or more strategic investors.
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