STEPASHIN SUCCEEDS IN MAKING THE IMF OPEN ITS COFFERS

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STEPASHIN SUCCEEDS IN MAKING THE IMF OPEN ITS COFFERS

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, June 16, 1999, 15:00

Since early this morning, the attention of delegates and the media has been focused on the two stars of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Sergei Stepashin and Michael Camdessus. Their speeches showed that their nocturnal walk along the Neva gave them a chance and opportunity to talk over their positions on major issues.

Stepashin called his report “some thoughts on an economy which is not an economic program of the government”. Essentially, it boiled down to this: the future success of the economy requires long-term strategic planning, not the solution of fleeting problems. Nevertheless, the government does need foreign loans right now. It needs them to solve these very problems, like creating a transparent economy, preventing capital flight, and paying foreign debts.

Stepashin: Strict economic measures, even a provisional increase of tax pressure for the sake of reducing the burden of foreign debts as soon as possible, are better than a drawn-out economic crisis. After all, the crisis threatens to isolate Russia from the rest of the world this time.

Recalling the danger that jeopardized the country, the premier once again called for consent in society, clearly meaning the parliament and the government first and foremost.

Camdessus, who was given the floor after Stepashin, also concentrated on the necessity of consent and even called it the most important wealth, for which Russia does not have to look abroad. The economic ideas of the Russian premier were supplemented by Camdessus’ words about the necessity to restructure industry and trade, abolish barter and mutual cancellations, and liberalize financial channels.

The key condition for credits remains unchanged: reorganization of the tax system. Nevertheless, the position of the International Monetary Fund has changed somewhat: today, Camdessus merely announced that the Fund has to help Russia.

Afterwards, Stepashin, Yegor Stroyev, and Camdessus convened negotiations behind closed doors. Their results were heartening: it certainly seems that the new government elicited a promise of new credits from the Fund.

Stepashin: The International Monetary Fund will be away on vacation in August, so we should expect some specific results by July.

SERGEEV AND COHEN TO MEET IN HELSINKI

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, June 16, 1999, 15:00

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and his American counterpart William Cohen will meet in Helsinki, where they are supposed to discuss Russia’s participation in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.

The lunch which the ministers were supposed to have together was cancelled because Sergeev was talking to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, a mediator in the negotiations between the West and Yugoslavian leader Milosevic.

The Russian-American negotiations began later than was initially planned and without Sergeev and Cohen (they are supposed to turn up later). Sergeev and Cohen are accompanied by teams of advisors and experts, so it stands to reason to assume that the parties mean business. NATO insists on a centralized command of the peacekeepers, citing the experience of cooperation with Russia in Bosnia.

Official Helsinki declines to comment on the rumors about the possibility of a Finnish commander being appointed to manage the Russian troops. Sergeev is taciturn as well.

At the moment, the arrival of Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is expected in Helsinki. US Secretary of State Madeline Albright is coming on Thursday afternoon.

DUMA WILL DISCUSS THE SITUATION IN KOSOVO TOMORROW

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, June 16, 1999, 16:00

The sitting will be closed. Invitations to the defense and foreign ministers were sent, but deputies themselves seem to doubt the effectiveness of the hearing.

The Atlantic Dialogue inter-faction group proposed direct participation in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo instead of mere discussion, but left-wing deputies promptly killed this idea, which was put forth by Konstantin Borovoi.

Sure, deputies are worried about the situation in Yugoslavia, but not enough to sacrifice their summer vacation, which begins on June 25, right on schedule.

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