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Russia: Moscow Has No Reason To Cheer NATO Expansion

Salzburg, 10 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior Russian government official says Moscow has no reason to be happy about NATO's decision this week to offer membership invitations to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Yevgeny Yasin, the former economics minister who is now without portfolio, made the comment on the sidelines of the second annual Central and Eastern European Economic Summit in Salzburg, Austria. He said he had no wish to spoil the good mood of those celebrating the decision. But Yasin said Russia saw no reason to consider the move with joy, as it still believes expansion could have a negative effect on its own security.

Yasin said one of the options now open to Russia is to press ahead with efforts to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is the world's largest trade organization, bringing together more than 130 countries. He added that the time has come for Moscow to say unambiguously that it supports a free and open market and to undertake the necessary steps to make that a reality. Only then, Yasin said, will Russia's rights and interests be truly represented on the world stage.