In August 2020, EKN decided to issue offers for guarantees for exports to two gas-fired power plants in Belarus, with the buyers RUE Minskenergo and RUE Brestenergo. The decision was subject to conditions. A prerequisite for EKN to be able to participate in any transaction is that the project in question meets the requirements in terms of respect for human rights in compliance with international standards, namely the IFC Performance Standards.
The negative developments in Belarus together with new information about human rights violations in the buyer’s operations gave rise to renewed information gathering and analysis. EKN’s conclusion is that the preconditions for issuing export credit guarantees in these transactions have not been met. EKN assesses that in the current situation, it will not be possible to implement the necessary monitoring and measures to ensure that human rights are respected in compliance with international regulations.
“EKN has many years of experience in setting conditions for and monitoring of human rights risks in transactions in challenging countries. But here we have exhausted all possibilities. For these transactions, our assessment is that the prerequisites for the measures we require do not exist. The Board has therefore decided that EKN will not issue any export credit guarantees for these projects,” says EKN’s Director General Anna-Karin Jatko.
In July 2020, 30 days prior to the decision to issue the offers, EKN published its intention to take a decision. The purpose of this publication was to invite stakeholders to contact EKN with any relevant information. In March 2021, EKN received new information from representatives of the Belarusian opposition and immediately began a new collection of information and a fresh analysis together with the lending bank.
“EKN will now review how the original information gathering could have better captured and predicted the chain of events after the election as well as the consequences these developments could have for activities in state-run projects. There are lessons to be learnt with regard to making decisions in rapidly changing high-risk situations,” says Anna-Karin Jatko.