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“It means a very great deal, institutionally and also for me personally”. That’s how Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, reflects on EBRD’s 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting, which opens today in London.

“The 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall was a crucial moment, the tearing down of the iron curtain – I remember it vividly,” Sir Suma tells bne-Intellinews. “The EBRD was then set up quickly, to help transition former Soviet-bloc countries away from communism and towards open-market economics – it’s been a fantastic story”.

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China’s new membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is “a win all round”, says EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti, rejecting criticism that allowing the People’s Republic to join contradicts the multilateral’s Articles of Association.

“It’s definitely a win for the EBRD to have the world’s second-largest economy as a shareholder, allowing us to do proper business development in China and encouraging Chinese companies to work with us,” Sir Suma tells bne IntelliNews, during an exclusive interview in London.

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I spent much of last week in Tbilisi, a city of around 1.5m people on the south-eastern fringe of Europe. Sitting at the juncture of historic East-West trade routes, the Georgian capital has long been a melting pot of cultural mingling, a place where rival empires collide.

With its mix of medieval, classical and Soviet architecture, some of it charming, some of it not, Tbilisi is a good place to think about the broad sweep of foreign affairs. That was particularly true during my latest visit, as the city was hosting the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). For several days, some of Tbilisi’s most prominent downtown buildings – including the ornate old parliament and several beautiful museums – were inhabited by a multi-cultural gaggle of officials, bankers, investors and journalists.
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