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Europe

German Named New European Development Bank President

Germany's Thomas Mirow was named the new president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development at the group's annual meeting.

Portrait Thomas Mirow

Stepping up to take the helm: Thomas Mirow

The 55-year-old Mirow was selected on Monday, May 19, in Kiev to replace Frenchman Jean Lemierre who will step down in July after eight years in charge of the bank.

Mirow, a long-standing German Social Democratic politician and a deputy minister at the federal finance ministry, is the second German to head the EBRD. The group has always been led either by a German or a Frenchman since it was founded in 1991 to help ex-Soviet countries in Europe and Central Asia in their transition to market economies.

Predecessor full of praise for Mirow

"I am greatly honored to be joining an institution that has achieved so much in so few years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall," Mirow said in a statement.

"The region where the bank works still faces many challenges and I am convinced that the EBRD has the skills, the experience and the determination to help the region meet those challenges."

Meanwhile, Mirow's predecessor, Lemierre, told the AFP news service that the EBRD governors "made a very good decision in appointing him president of the bank. ... I am very happy he is my successor."

Also on the agenda at the bank's annual meeting were rising food prices and Ukraine's galloping inflation rate, as well as problems attracting investment to the former Soviet republic.

Ukraine seen as 'test case'

The EBRD also has other plans for the meeting, such as releasing its latest economic forecasts for the region, considering possible extension of loans to EBRD-shareholder Turkey, and discussing a $200 million (128 million euros) donation toward maintenance of Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Lemierre stepped down after unprecedented eastward expansion by the bank. More than 90 percent of the bank's total $8.6 million of investments in the region during 2007 went to nations outside the European Union, and 20 percent of that was aimed at energy security projects, according to EBRD data.

"Ukraine is in many ways a test case of the EBRD's eastward-looking policy," Mykola Shandor, a Kiev-based investment banker, told DPA news agency. "They have been pretty successful at making money in Ukraine but less successful at drawing private business behind them."

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