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Balkans: West Pledges Funds To Promote Stability

Brussels, 30 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - A two-day international aid conference aimed at raising funds for regional projects in the Balkans ends today in Brussels. Reports say donors are prepared to contribute some $1.8 billion to projects designed to promote cooperation and bring peace to the region. The EU has promised $530 million for the projects. Officials say the EU's 15 governments and the European Investment Bank will probably announce similar contributions today.

The focus is on projects to build bridges, roads, airports, water systems and electricity networks. Participants insist the emphasis is on projects which can be funded and implemented quickly within the next 12 months.

In exchange for the financing, the region's governments are being asked to give details of their economic and political reform programs. The implementation of the projects would be closely monitored to ensure that countries stick to their reform commitments.