RUSSIAN THEME ON AGENDA OF EBRD ANNUAL MEETING

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LONDON, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is opening its 13th annual meeting of the Board of governors in the capital of Great Britain.

As the EBRD press service reports, the two-day forum will gather about 2,500 participants, including government officials, business people, journalists and members of non-governmental organizations from 27 countries of Europe and Central Asia.

The business forum scheduled as part of the EBRD annual meeting will discuss the latest news and events in the region's economic, political and business life, the obvious growth of the economies of the former socialist countries, the development of small and medium business, corporate management and market competition.

Today presentations of the EBRD member countries will be held. A special meeting will focus on the Russian Federation. It will be attended by deputy finance minister of Russia and EBRD alternate governor Sergei Kolotukhin, deputy minister of economic development and trade Yuri Isayev, vice-president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Igor Jurgens, EBRD director for Russia and Central Asia Hubert Pandza and others.

The meeting will discuss the potential for administrative reform in Russia, the reform of the energy sector, the development of geographical diversification and investments in regions, the prospects for small and medium business, the mechanisms of investments in the transport sector.

On Monday, April 19, the EBRD will hold a general meeting of the board of its governors to sum up the Bank's performance in the past year and map out the ways of its development for the next year. The meeting will focus on the EU's May 1 enlargement to include ten new members (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus) - the Bank's current participants, and consider the schemes of assistance to them to approach as quickly as possible West European living standards.

Also, some plenary sessions on related issued will be held on Monday. One of them will focus on the problem of Russia's debts.

The Russia session will discuss the process of the reformation of the Russian capital market, the development of the inter-bank market, the growth of the Russian investment base and other topics.

As EBRD president Jean Lemierre said on the eve of the annual meeting of the EBRD board of governors, the EBRD's investments in the Russian economy will amount to about EUR 1.3 billion.

Last year the EBRD invested EUR 1.1 billion in the Russian economy.

This year and in the short-term perspective, the Bank intends to "advance in the south-eastern direction," i.e. to step up its investment activities in Russia and Ukraine, which are demonstrating the largest growth rates among the counties of Central Europe, the EBRD head said.

According to Jean Lemierre, the reforms underway in Russia and the high prices of energy products and raw materials on the world markets are the driving force of economic growth in Russia.

He also noted that the EBRD was still interested in acquiring the shares of Vneshtorgbank. "We held active negotiations on this issue with Vneshtorgbank and the previous government of Russia and intend to hold negotiations on the same topic with the new Fradkov government," Jean Lemierre said. In particular, the EBRD president hopes that in many respects this issue will be cleared up during his meetings with Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin and Vneshtorgbank chairman Andrei Kostin scheduled to take place in London next week.

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