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World: Schroeder, Soros And Arafat Speak At Davos Economic Forum

  • Breffni O'Rourke



Davos, 2 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany especially welcomes and supports the process of democratization now going on in Slovakia.

Answering a question from an RFE/RL correspondent at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today, Schroeder said the new government of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda is taking a very reasonable position. He said that makes a "pleasant change" from the behavior of the previous government of Premier Vladimir Meciar.

He said Slovakia must progress along the path of reasonable reforms to prepare itself for European Union membership. At the same time, Schroeder cautioned that it's not possible yet to say when new members can be admitted to the European Union. Negotiations with the five front running eastern candidates started late last year. Slovakia is not in the front group, but Dzurinda has been making strenuous efforts to have his country accepted into that group.

Schroeder Says German Help To Russia Continues

Davos, 2 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany has a special responsibility to help Russia, and it will carry out that responsibility.

Schroeder was speaking at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today. He said the aim of German economic help to Russia is to promote self-reliance on the part of the Russian authorities.

He said the government of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov knows that it must maintain the momentum of reform if it is to find further international financial support. With this in mind, Bonn does not want to send just cash, but prefers to support concrete re-industrialization projects. It is also sending experts to help restructuring, for instance in the banking sector.

Schroeder said that later this month (Feb. 18-19) there will be further Russian-German consultations at which Germany hopes to further develop the process of helping Russia.

Arafat Says Statehood Still Under Discussion

Davos, 2 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat says the Palestinian leadership has not yet taken a decision on whether to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood on May 4.

Arafat told a packed press conference in Davos, Switzerland, today that the question is still under broad discussion, and he could not say when a decision would be reached.

He noted the appeal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, also in Davos, for a delay in the declaration because of the coming Israeli elections. He said he discussed this with Mubarak yesterday, and would continue those talks in Cairo. He had also met in Davos with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Arafat said the Palestinians would work with any Israeli government which came to power in the elections. And he gave a warm endorsement to U.S. President Bill Clinton, saying he would never forget Clinton's great effort to achieve last year's Wye River peace accord.

Time Is Right To Help Brazil

Davos, 1 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Top financier George Soros has called for quick international action to help Brazil overcome its acute financial problems.

Speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today, Soros said the problem is urgent, as there had been signs of a run on the Brazilian banks and currency at the end of last week.

He said a "wall of money" should be used to hold up Brazil. He urged disbursement of the International Monetary Fund's existing $41 billion support package, plus extra funding from the international institutions plus the private sector.

Soros said the Brazilian government had done almost everything wrong to cope with the crisis, but that sufficient rescue money, if used now, would stabilize the situation. It's feared that further trouble in Brazil could touch off a new round of international financial turmoil. Central Asia: Region Lacks Investment Infrastructure

Central Asian Region Lacks Pre-Conditions For Investments

Davos, 1 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Financier George Soros says that the Central Asia region lacks the legal and institutional framework to make foreign investment attractive.

Soros was answering a question from an RFE/RL correspondent at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today. He said there are great investment opportunities in Central Asia, but that the pre-conditions for them had not been established.

Two Central Asian leaders, President Nursulatan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, last week addressed the forum, calling for increased foreign investment in their countries. Both presidents pledged to continue the reform process despite the difficulties they had suffered because of the Russian financial collapse.
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