23 November 2005 -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has refuted reports it was considering closing down all its operations in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.
EBRD spokesperson in London Vanora Bennett said bank officials were not debating closing down their operations inside the country.
Bennett's comments came after Reuters quoted an EBRD official as saying there was pressure from the bank's shareholders to pull out completely from Uzbekistan because of the deteriorating political situation there.
Bruno Balvanera, the head of business development at the EBRD, reportedly said the bank's involvement in the country has been shrinking in past years as the political situation has worsened and economic reforms stalled.
Balvanera added that just $40 million was likely to be invested in 2005, similar to last year's levels.