By Gokhan Ergocun</p> <p>SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) aims to break its €10 billion ($11.1 billion) investment threshold for the first time in its history, said the head of bank on Wednesday.</p> <p>Addressing the opening session of the Governors' Board in the EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, Suma Chakrabarti said the bank invested nearly €10 billion in countries it has been operating for three years in a row.</p> <p>"Last year’s investment level was close to the 2017 record and the number of operations was at the top end of the business plan as well," he added. </p> <p>The bank profited €606 million (some $700 million) in 2018, and €634 million ($760 million) in 2017, the president said, adding it keeps to be financially strong.</p> <p>Chakrabarti added that the donor countries supported the EBRD with some €583 million ($670 million) last year, with the EU being the biggest donor.</p> <p>"We were also particularly pleased that Spain and Israel have resumed their place in our donor family, and to welcome more of our recipient countries, namely Turkey, Poland, and Bulgaria. Many thanks to them as well," he stressed.</p> <p>The president said that 2019 would be a pivotal year and the beginning of a further step for change that will require enhancing the quality of the investments and projects of EBRD.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Integration ‘powerful instrument’ to expand trade</p> <p>"The EBRD business model, focused on the private sector and combining our traditions of sound banking with an emphasis on a policy reform, has served us well," Chakrabarti underlined. </p> <p>He also said the EBRD funds small and medium-sized enterprises, supports women entrepreneurs, and encourages households to invest in energy efficiency.</p> <p>Touching on integration projects, he said the integration is a powerful instrument to expand trade, increase cross-border investment and encourage the exchange of new ideas and innovation.</p> <p>"Integration via physical infrastructure connects regions via roads, railways, ports, airports, and telecommunications, helping people and goods move more easily. It also boosts economic opportunities in regions which have been hitherto poorly connected to the rest of the global economy," he added.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Bosnia expects more investments from EBRD</p> <p>Denis Zvizdic, the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the investments of EBRD in Bosnia reached €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) so far.</p> <p>Investments were made in 160 different projects — mostly in infrastructure projects — he stressed.</p> <p>Zvizdic elaborated on the investments of European Bank: "In 2018, the EBRD invested €200 million ($230 million) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a significant increase compared to €130 million ($156 million) in 2017."</p> <p>"I anticipate there will be further expansion and these investments will exceed €300 million ($335.9 million) in 2019, and not just in the infrastructure sector, but also to strengthen the private sector and for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as energy efficiency and the green economy."</p> <p> </p> <p>- Annual meeting and business forum</p> <p>This year, the EBRD event was organized under the theme of Connecting Economies for Stronger Growth, with a focus on ways to "connect economies for strong growth and impact, both in the Western Balkans and beyond," according to its website.</p> <p>Around 3,000 attendants — experts, officials, businesspeople, environmental specialists, entrepreneurs — discuss several topics, such as global trade, blockchain, digitalization, tourism and migration during the three-day event which started on Tuesday.</p> <p>Established in 1991 to facilitate reconstruction in Central and Eastern Europe after the Cold War, the EBRD has since made investments worth €133 billion ($149 billion) in around 5,200 projects so far.