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Russia: Kozyrev Says West Should Have Offered A Marshall Plan

Crans-Montana, Switzerland; 30 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev says he believes the West should have offered Moscow a version of the Marshall Plan of financial and economic aid when communism collapsed at the beginning of the 1990's.

Answering questions at an international conference in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana Saturday, Kozyrev said he considers it a "failure" by the West but said there were errors on all sides.

"There was a lot of misunderstanding on both sides," he said. "They led to a lot of overblown expectations. Russian democrats waited for the West to come with open hands and were disappointed when they did not. The West probably expected more from the Russian democrats."

But Kozyrev acknowledged that western countries did provide a lot of help with technical assistance programs, programs to strengthen democratic institutions, programs for educating businessmen and entrepreneurs and others for reforming legal systems. "It is also true that the value of these programs is often undervalued," he said.

Kozyrev, who is now a member of the Duma for a constituency in the Murmansk region, told businessmen at the conference that what Russia needs now from the West is direct investment, including in private businesses.

He said he believed the reformers now in the Russian government were doing their best to create a better climate for foreign investment. He said the new team was trying to enforce a more disciplined accountability and transparency in financial affairs, including a more responsible and transparent budget.

He said the reformers were trying to eliminate taxation loopholes for special interests and other problems. His own view was that they had a good chance of success.

Our correspondent says Kozyrev and a group of Russian businessmen attending the conference have been actively pressing Western and Middle East businessmen to invest in Russia. Kozyrev has been arguing for more investment in north-west Russia.