Moscow, 17 February 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today urged both houses of parliament to pass laws boosting economic growth. Yeltsin said in his annual state of the nation speech that parliament should begin passing realistic budgets in a timely manner. He also repeated his call for new investment and tax laws to make Russia stable and more attractive to foreign investors.
He called for the continued restructuring of industry and appealed to Russia banks to increase their investments within the country.
Yeltsin said Russia has moved past the days of high inflation, but has not yet reached what he called "the investment future." But he said the transition to a market economy is irreversible.
Yeltsin said small and medium-sized businesses are playing an increasingly important role in Russia's economic growth. He pledged to work harder toward enlarging and strengthening the middle class.
On foreign policy, Yeltsin said military strikes against Iraq would be "the last and most dangerous" way of resolving a dispute about United Nations arms inspections there. He also urged legislators to ratify the START II nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States, and warned the Baltic states to stop their efforts to join NATO. He said Russia will continue to oppose such plans.