Russian first deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais rounded up a three-day visit to London yesterday and returned to Moscow after meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, and Bank of England governor Eddie George. Chubais was to keen to talk to British officials before Britain takes over the six-month presidency of the European Union in January.
Asked about Russia’s attitude to EU expansion, Chubais told journalists that Russia sees this as "a natural process." Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic have been invited to open negotiations over membership next year, though no one expects any of them to be allowed to join before 2005. Chubais said Russia has no right or desire to try to stop EU expansion or to slow it down. "On the contrary," he said, "we want to develop our own relations with the EU." But Chubais said Russia is anxious not to lose markets as a result of EU expansion; when Finland joined two years ago, he said, Finland hiked its tariffs on imports from Russia and Russia lost market-share as a result. (BBC, October 29)
Chubais said he was pleased with Britain’s promise of support for Russia’s attempts to gain EU recognition as a market economy. At present, the EU classifies Russia as an administered economy, which makes it easier for the EU to impose anti-dumping measures on Russian exports to EU countries. Chubais said yesterday that the British government had promised to support Russia’s efforts to change its status. (Itar-Tass, October 29)
BBC correspondent Steven Dalliel described Chubais as "quietly triumphant" over the outcome of last week’s showdown between the Russian government and the Duma. Some observers have speculated that Chubais was weakened by the conflict, which ended with President Yeltsin offering to withdraw the government’s draft tax code. But Chubais said yesterday that he was satisfied with the outcome. In particular, he said, the fact that the Duma had withdrawn its threatened no-confidence vote meant that government and parliament "can now enter a period of cooperation." He said the speediest possible approval of the tax code is now the government’s main priority since that will open the way for "billions’ worth of investments into the Russian economy." (BBC World Service, October 29)
Russian Stocks Jump 30 Percent.