thomas mirow 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development may soon begin investing in
Egypt, a move that would mark the bank’s first foray into the Middle Eastern
Ahead of his visit to the region this week, EBRD president Thomas
Mirow sought to calm nerves in Israel that investment in its chaotic southern
neighbor might ultimately backfire.
“My own perception is that any effort
to support the stabilization of Egypt and to increase the opportunities for
young people could be helpful for Israel, too,” Mirow told The Jerusalem Pos
phone from London.
“We have not only an economic but a political
mandate...Every taxpayer in Israel can be sure our money will not fund
authoritarian regimes or corrupt elements in the economy.”
1991, the bank’s original mandate was to assist former Communist countries in
creating viable private sectors. Today it invests in 30 countries from Central
Europe to Central Asia as part of its efforts to promote market economies and
The bank is owned by 61 countries, including Israel, and two
European Union-linked institutions. Despite its publicsector shareholders, the
EBRD’s investments are primarily in private enterprise.
Mirow, 58, is the
bank’s fifth president, a position he took in 2008 after serving in a variety of
high-level federal and local government posts in his native
Mirow said he hopes the bank can employ the knowledge it
acquired in Central and Eastern Europe to help improve an Egyptian economy
weakened by a relatively feeble financial sector and few job opportunities for
“We bring in quite unique expertise in terms of the private
sector,” he said. “We are quite different from the other international financial
institutions in that we do 80 to 90 percent of our investments in and with the
private sector,” he added, noting that a decision to invest in Egypt must first
be approved by EBRD shareholders.
EBRD representative Anthony Williams
said the bank would likely focus on encouraging small- to medium-sized
enterprises that have potential to create jobs, as well as improving municipal
services such as water and energy.
With the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak
regime toppled, Mirow said, Egypt now had a golden opportunity to pursue real
“The chances for Egypt to comply with our standards
of a multiparty system and a market economy are much better than they would have
been a year ago,” he said.
Mirow said he hoped Israel could serve as a
regional model for economic growth.
“Israel is a long-standing member of
the bank. We very closely work with Israeli investors, particularly in the areas
of venture funds and real estate, and we have very much esteem for Israel’s
record of turning its own economy into a high-value, hi-tech economy,” he
“The issue of how to diversify and modernize an economy is very
much in the bank’s focus after the financial crisis, and I’m certain Israel can
provide some very encouraging examples for what other countries in the region
can do,” Mirow said.