By Emil Danielyan
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), a Manila-based financial institution tasked with combating poverty in Asia and the Pacific, has decided in principle to admit Armenia and serve as another sources of external assistance to the country, officials said on Wednesday.
According to the press service of the Armenian government, the bank’s Deputy Secretary Amarjit Singh Wasan told Prime Minister Andranik Markarian that the ADB is ready to open accession talks with Yerevan and expects to complete the process in between six and nine months. Wasan was quoted as saying that he is satisfied with his talks with various-level Armenian officials held in Yerevan in the last few days.
Successive Armenian governments have been seeking to join the ADB since 1997 in the hope of securing more low-interest loans to improve the country’s public services and economic infrastructure. The process gained momentum after the ADB and three other Western-funded lending institutions -- the World Bank, the International Monetary and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development -- promised in 2002 to coordinate their assistance to the seven poorest ex-Soviet states. Those include Armenia as well as neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The ADB was established in 1966 and is currently made up of 63 member states that act as its shareholders. Forty-five of them are located in the Asia/Pacific region. Among the other members are the United States and all major countries of the European Union. The bank’s governing board approved the release of a total of $6.1 billion in infrastructure loans the course of last year.
During the meeting with Wasan, Markarian expressed hope that membership of the credit institution will allow Armenia to obtain more financial resources and invest them in social services, agriculture, health care, education and the economic infrastructure. He said the ADB’s lending terms are “quite attractive” to his country.
Armenia has already borrowed more than $ 1 billion from the World Bank, the IMF and the EBRD since independence.