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Eastern Europe: Improved Information Technology Crucial To Progress

Prague, 13 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - A joint forum of Eastern and Western European officials on Friday called for close cooperation to modernize the communications systems of Europe's former communist states.

The forum, meeting in Prague, issued a statement saying that the modernization of communications systems is a crucial step before the countries of Eastern Europe are ready to join the European Union.

It said improved information and communications technologies would have an impact on almost all sectors of these nations' ecomomic, political and cultural life.

The forum, sponsored by the European Commission and the Czech government, called on the commission to help the modernization process by involving Eastern European countries in more EU programs. It called on Eastern European governments to create a favorable environment for developing their telecommunications sectors.

The forum was attended by representatives of business and research organizations from the EU and by ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.