ALMATY, Apr 24 (Akela group)
On April 26 to 28 the Eurasian Economic Forum is to be held in Almaty. A day before another investment summit “Investments in Russia, sources of capital, real projects and investment consulting” is open its doors in Moscow. If international conferences are usual in Kazakhstan, although this is the first time that the talks are at such a high level, such talks are largely due to the new President in Russia. Russia is beginning to open its doors to foreign investors.
Today economic growth in Russia is at an unprecedented rate, and officials at the highest levels are pointing this out repeatedly. On April 20 Mr. Putin simply said: “Growth is great.” He called the Russian economy "energetic".
“Today our indices are better than those predicted for 2001,” he underlined. “For the first quarter of this year growth of GDP was about 8%.”
This reminds us of the words of John Wolf, the US chief power specialist in the Caspian Sea, on April 18 in Almaty, which seemed to belong to other people too: “Investments are less in places where they are expected.”
Russia is attacking
Memory of Russia's colossal political authority is obviously not comparable with its economic potential today. It cannot manage without investments and so they can look only to the West. Yeltsin's Russia was simply short of political will.
In mid-April the new Russian leader met the UK Prime Minister and major Britishbusinessmen. On April 29 he is to meet the Japanese Prime Minister. On June 4 he will finally meet Bill Clinton.
Undoubtedly, the Russian business elite will seize all opportunities to attract partners.
Along with a whole series of international conferences it is clear that the new Russia is attacking not only in Chechnya, but also on the investment front.
See for yourself:
- April 18th : “Financial scenarios 2000 and the stock market” was organised by the National Fund Association, the Financial Academy subordinate to the Russian government, and the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange.
- April 19th : The conference “Commercial papers: a new instrument to finance working capitals of enterprises”. Its organisers were the Association of the Promissory Note Market and the Financial Academy.
- April 25th : The conference-exhibition “Investments in Russia, sources of capital, real projects, investment consulting” is to be held. Its organisers are the magazine “Stock Market”, the EBRD, and the publishing group “Interpress”.
- May 11th-12th : in Moscow the conference “Russia and European law” is to be held in the MSUIR (Moscow State University of International Relations). Representatives of the Ministry of Trade are to participate in the event.
- May 15th to 17th in Moscow: the “Morgan Stanley Den Witter” conference for foreign investors and the “Russia: 2000. Looking at the future” conference is to be held.
- In June the “Russian fuel and the energy complex and fuel and energy balance in Asia” conference will be held by the Ministry of Fuel and Power.
Russia is opening its doors to foreign investors. The Minister of Economy, Andrei Shapovalyants announced the issue of a number of laws on loans and monetary policy, amendments to the antimonopoly legislation and to the tax code, as well as provisions on insurance agency to attract investments.
The Minister especially emphasised that attracting investments should be made one of the key mechanisms to encourage economic activity. These are concrete steps for investors.
On April 20th Russian informational channels reported that the Government had considered programs and options for the economic development of Russia: “The annual average rate of the GDP growth will be 4.5%”
Whether Russia will manage to attract investors is still an open question. It seems that abuses of power and corruption, obsolete equipment and old technology remain. There is still the problem of external debt, despite all negotiations on its reorganisation. Economic growth in Russia will give investors new conditions of the game.
Investment conferences in the CIS often have a festival character. “We are already tired of all these conferences,” a representative of one of the US biggest companies told us in a private conversation.
Russia is just getting started; Kazakhstan is trying if not to fix the success then to keep its positions. Will Astana be able to accept Moscow's new challenge?
Almaty, Apr 24
The President got carried away with the media, an unofficial representative of the official Astana was quoted as saying on April 24th in Almaty.
“He was simply pumped full of negative energy towards media by somebody,” he stressed.
On April 24 the General Public Prosecutor, Mr. Hitrin, the Minister of Information and Public Concord, Mr. Sarsenbayev, held a press conference obviously devoted to the President's famous statement last week.
In his statement, the President called for more control for the press, having blamed it for kindling hatred and smearing the country. He stated that security agencies would take severe measures against “provocateurs” and he said, “ we may possibly disclose the identities of foreign parties working against Kazakhstan and striving to sabotage us and our relations with neighbouring countries.”
On Monday officials met the press to reduce negative reports of the President's blunder.
Replies of civil servants were curt: “I had not been responsible for preparation of this part of the President's speech. Usually ministers do not comment on statements of the President, yet within my authority I can say. Let's consider this at another meeting.”
The President's press secretary did in fact attend the meeting. However, Asylbek Bisenbayev simply listened and did not participate in the discussion.
Western informational agencies noted to the fact that President Nazarbayev began to rigidly criticise media only a day after Madeline Albright had completed her visit to the Central Asian countries.
It is interesting that simultaneously with the Kazakh President the supreme Ayatollah of our southern Caspian neighbour, Iran, Ali Khamenei also seriously criticised his press. Their expressions were almost the same.
“The forthcoming threat of foreign dominance is deepened by “local traitors,“ the Ayatollah announced. This is very similar to “provocateurs” of Nursultan Nazarbayev. Teheran has closed 12 newspapers since April 20; Astana is still trying to calm journalists and publishers down.
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