Czechs call on EU allies to quit Soviet-era banks, citing security


PRAGUE, Feb 25 (Reuters) – The Czech Republic is calling on EU member states of the International Investment Bank (IIB) and the International Bank for Economic Cooperation (IBEC) to leave Soviet-era institutions that count Russia as their largest shareholder.

The Czech Finance Ministry said in a statement on Friday that as part of moves to punish Russia for its attack on Ukraine, the Czechs would accelerate their planned departure from the IIB, which moved its headquarters to Budapest from Moscow. in 2019, and the Moscow-based IBEC.

The ministry said it was considering giving banks advance notice, which would lead to a departure in two to three months.

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“We will call on other member states of the European Union to follow the same course,” the ministry said.

He said the Czech government saw no economic advantages in staying at the two institutions.

“On the contrary, we strongly perceive that our stake in (the banks) raises security policy issues among our Western allies, which also need to be dispersed in the context of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

IIB and IBEC press officers were not immediately available for comment.

The Czech Republic signaled that it could leave IBEC several years ago, but the process is not over.

The IIB’s move to Budapest and the granting of diplomatic immunity to Russian personnel have raised concerns among US senators.

IIB member states are Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Vietnam, according to the bank’s website. He had assets worth 1.9 billion euros ($2.16 billion) as of October 2021.

IBEC lists Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Vietnam as members and assets of 749 million euros as of last September.

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Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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