The last three years had been very productive for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Montenegro, accounting for around half of the total EUR 530 million of investments in the country since it started work there, said Suma Chakrabarti, the international financing institution’s president.
During his visit to the former Yugoslav republic within a tour of the Western Balkans, he met president Filip Vujanović and prime minister Milo Đukanović.
EBRD said Vujanović invited it to consider projects aimed at overcoming regional disparities between the country’s less developed north and more prosperous south. “Montenegro plays a special role in the Western Balkans and it has a special place within the EBRD as a whole, for it is in Montenegro that we have our highest per capita investment,” Chakrabarti said.
He concluded the visit by meeting the management of the Coordinated Auction Office in South East Europe (SEE CAO), a system which allocates the region’s scarce electricity transmission capacity through a single auction process, EBRD said. The bank provided technical cooperation grants to establish the system, widely used elsewhere in Europe, which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro and Turkey. Macedonia has recently signed an accession agreement. SEE CAO is in discussion with other countries in the region about joining.
During the meeting with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Chakrabarti said this may be a record year for the EBRD in the country as it expects to invest EUR 150 million to EUR 170 million. He commended Albania’s progress and reform drive and added there are still challenges in areas like infrastructure and agriculture. Chakrabarti and Rama attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding with four commercial banks and two microfinance institutions under the Support Facility.
EBRD’s president and the mayor of Tirana, Erion Vellaj, discussed removing impediments to potential cooperation in municipal infrastructure. The capital municipality and EBRD are working on a pilot Green Cities Action Plan, the first of its kind in the region, parts of which the bank may consider financing. Chakrabarti also introduced Matteo Colangeli, EBRD’s new head of Albanian operations.
Earlier, during the visit to Kosovo, he discussed the bank’s upcoming country strategy for until 2020 with president Hashim Thaçi. The document is scheduled to be approved in November. It is expected to focus on the competitiveness of the private sector, energy security and sustainability, and connectivity and regional integration. EBRD would also promote inclusive growth in Kosovo, with a focus on integrating young people and women into the wider economy.
“We started an investment and policy-focused dialogue between the region’s leaders two years ago at the EBRD’s inaugural Western Balkans summit, and I am proud to see that the process of regional cooperation in this new format has gained momentum, under the leadership of the EU. The EBRD welcomes the Kosovo authorities’ active participation in regional cooperation,” Chakrabarti stated.
Elena Petrovska, head of EBRD’s office in Kosovo, said the bank is working on innovative projects for the local, private sector and successfully implementing products such as Women in Business and the Kosovo Sustainable Energy Programme (KoSEP).
During the visit, Suma Chakrabarti signed two agreements with local banks, both aimed at helping local private sector businesses. He is also expected to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia later in the summer.