EBRD must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks before any investment in the restrictive countries. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today participated in a meeting at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, discussing the Bank’s calibrated approach towards Belarus and Turkmenistan. The two authoritarian countries are the only cases in which the EBRD has initiated such an approach that allows for closer monitoring of the progress or regress towards set benchmarks on political and economic reform, and more rapid response to the development.
–It is a positive step that the Bank has identified concrete benchmarks for reform in the political and economic sphere, states Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. However, in both cases we are dealing with unpredictable authoritarian leaders and it is pertinent that progress is based on concrete change on the ground rather than statements and legal reform not implemented.
The EBRD’s Article 1 of the Agreement Establishing the Bank requires commitment to and application of the principles of multiparty democracy, pluralism and market economies before any investment can be done. Despite statements and plans by the President of Turkmenistan, none of these are present in Turkmenistan today. Similarly, Belarus has no proven improvement in any of these issues and is in fact going in the opposite direction. As a consequence the activity of the Bank is very low in investment terms, but higher on political advocacy in these countries.
At the meeting, the NHC encouraged the EBRD to enforce the political pressure and try to enhance the role of civil society in both countries, whilst holding back on investment involving governmental institutions. The NHC also submitted an overview over some of the central human rights issues in both countries.
Read the submission on Turkmenistan here.
Read the submission on Belarus here.