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Van Ardenne and Zalm to visit Georgia and Armenia

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From 10 to 12 June, Minister for Development Cooperation Agnes van Ardenne and Minister of Finance Gerrit Zalm will visit Georgia and Armenia, two of the Netherlands' development partners. They will be meeting representatives of government, NGOs, financial institutions and UN organisations. In Armenia, Zalm and Van Ardenne will sign agreements facilitating Dutch investment there. The trip will end with informal talks between the members of the Netherlands' constituency at the World Bank and IMF.

In 2005, Georgia and Armenia will receive €4 and €4.7 million respectively in general budget support from the Netherlands. These funds will be spent on the priorities discussed in a strategic plan drawn up by the governments of the countries themselves, civil society and donor countries. These priorities include combating corruption and promoting good governance (in the case of Georgia) and improving tax collection and strengthening small and medium-sized businesses (in the case of Armenia). The Dutch private sector can also help through grant programmes like the Programme for Cooperation with Emerging Markets (PSOM) and joint ventures with local firms. The Dutch embassy in Armenia and Georgia is also funding a number of projects relating to government financial management. One such project aims to make government expenditure more transparent.

The Netherlands represents eleven countries at the World Bank and IMF, including Georgia and Armenia. On their own, these countries would be too small to have a seat on the Executive Board, and hence they are grouped together in constituencies. As the largest shareholder, the Netherlands heads the constituency and provides the executive directors (World Bank: Ad Melkert, IMF: Jeroen Kremers). Each year, the finance and development ministers of the countries in the Netherlands' constituency take part in informal talks. This year, they will be held in Georgia.

For more information, please contact the Press Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Esther van Damme, at +31 (0)70 348 6645.