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Vienna, 09.05.2019 Finance Minister Löger at EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo

Further strengthening and rapid convergence of the Western Balkans with the European Union is one of the top priorities of Austrian foreign policy. For this reason, Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Löger is delighted at this year's choice of venue; "Holding this year's Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Sarajevo perfectly reflects Austria's own focus."

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was formed in 1991 in order to facilitate the transition to a free-market economy for the former centrally-planned economies of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Since then, the Bank has implemented over 5,000 projects, made investments of over EUR 115 billion, and with 70 members in 37 project countries, is active across three continents.

The focus of this year's Annual Meeting is to see an increase, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, of activities in existing project countries, a possible geographical expansion of the Bank's mandate, as well as, very generally, the next multi-year strategy for 2021 to 2025.

"Austria, as a founding member of the EBRD, takes a positive view of geographical expansion of the Bank's area of activity. At the same time, this must take place in conjunction with the ongoing discussions on the financial architecture of Europe and the financial institutions already operating in this area. Furthermore, it may not lead to the existing project countries suffering any disadvantage, since swift convergence of the countries of the Western Balkans with the European Union is a priority not only for Austria, but indeed must remain a core focus for the EBRD," continued Löger.

In this context, Austria's Finance Minister praised the huge impact which EBRD projects have had in the past in project countries, also emphasising the 36% share in sustainable investments. "Austria welcomes and supports the initiative to increase investment in renewable energies and to entirely exclude the financing of coal."

In addition, Finance Minister Löger will take advantage of the Annual Meeting to have several bilateral meetings aimed at adding weight to the case for issues which have strategic relevance for Austria. Thus, a meeting is scheduled with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, who is also EBRD Governor for the European Union and current Chairman of the Council of Governors. Meetings with EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti and the EBRD Governor for the EIB, Alexander Stubb, are also on the agenda.