20 June 2002
Further Reforms Are Essential, Secretary-General Says in Message to St. Petersburg Economic Forum
NEW YORK, 19 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, St. Petersburg, 18-22 June, delivered by Brigita Schmognerova, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE):
It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all the participants in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which offers a timely opportunity to discuss the development challenges being faced by the Russian Federation and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The economy of this region is one of the most rapidly expanding in the world. In recent years, the Russian economy has grown at an annual rate of 6.5 per cent. Eight of the other 11 CIS States have also performed well. Yet in some CIS countries, poverty has also increased dramatically, with particularly damaging impact on children.
The challenge now is to sustain the progress that has been achieved, to address the remaining backlog of need, and to bolster public confidence in the transformation. Further reforms -- economic, political, legal, judicial and regulatory -- are essential. Only by continuing along this path will Russia and the other CIS countries diversify their economies, reduce their dependence on oil exports, prevent environmental degradation, halt the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS, meet international norms and standards, and create conditions conducive to trade, investment, small business and entrepreneurship. I also encourage you to develop and utilize to the full your human resources and scientific capabilities, which are one of the region's most formidable comparative advantages.
In an era of interdependence and globalization, no country, no community and no individual exists in isolation. We face common vulnerabilities that transcend borders, from terrorism and climate change to the proliferation of weapons and the spread of disease. But we also have unprecedented opportunities for common progress, made possible by technology, knowledge and the lessons of the past. I urge the Russian Federation and the other members of the CIS to continue the productive cooperation that has developed over the past decade, and thereby strengthen the long-standing ties that bind the region, overcome the problems that create divisions, and move closer to the peace and prosperity desired by all. The United Nations system will continue to be your partner in that effort. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful Forum.
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