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Slovenia: Council Of Europe Grants $60 Million Loan

Strasbourg, 22 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Council of Europe has approved a loan of some $60 million to Slovenia by the organization's principle financial organ, the Social Development Fund.

The approval came at a meeting Monday of the Paris-based Fund's Administrative Council, and was announced late yesterday at Council headquarters in Strasbourg.

The loan is the largest ever granted by the Fund to a Central or East European country. It will finance in part the rehabilitation of Slovenia's school and university infrastructure.

The Social Development Fund has 25 European member states, including Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.

In its four decades of existence, the Fund has primarily financed projects on behalf of refugees, displaced persons and victims of natural or ecological disasters. But it has also supported projects in other social areas.

The Council of Europe now has 40 member states, including Slovenia and 15 others from Central and Eastern Europe.

The Council's Social Development Fund also approved an interest-free loan of $1.5 million to the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina for repair and improvement of the water-supply system in the northeast town of Tuzla.

Council officials said this loan meets what the organization considers an urgent need to rehabilitate Bosnian towns that are considered as suitable for the return of displaced persons and refugees.

This is the second time in less than a year that the Fund has provided assistance to Bosnia. In April 1996, it helped finance a general rehabilitation project on behalf of war victims and refugees.