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World: Prominent Personalities Address Davos Economic Forum

Davos, Switzerland; 31 January 1999 (RFE/RL) -- International Monetary Fund First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer today rejected criticism over the way his organization is handling the world financial crisis.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Fischer also said he believes Brazil will successfully cope with its present troubles, as long as the government there takes the right steps. He said what Brazil now needs is a credible currency policy.

Addressing the Forum, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today called for big business to join the United Nations in implementing a shared code of social values going hand in hand with economic globalization. He urged businessmen, individually and collectively, to support a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labor standards and environmental practices.

Also speaking in Davos, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov admitted today that his country is now preoccupied with its pressing economic problems, but he said Moscow would still be a force to be reckoned with in global politics. Primakov said Russia's economic problems were temporary but admitted it would be at least a year before they ended.

Russia: Soros Calls For Support For Civil Society

Davos, 1 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Super-financier and philanthropist George Soros says it is of supreme importance now to support civil society in Russia.

Speaking at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today, Soros said hope for an open society must be retained among Russians.

He said he is closely engaged in helping Russia through his Soros Foundation, which among other things is supporting independent media. He said that independent media is now under acute pressure because of the financial crisis. He noted the U.S. government is contributing $10 million to this same purpose.

Soros said that on the business side, his investments in Russia had been "unrewarding" and his investment fund had suffered major losses. But he said he believes a moment will come when the political situation is clarified, and the economic situation can be turned around.

Soros Says Central Asia Lacks Investment Infrastructure

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.