Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 163

Echoing admonitions voiced by U.S. President Bill Clinton during his recent summit talks in Moscow, Foreign ministers from the fifteen European Union member countries yesterday called on President Boris Yeltsin to form a new government and to get on with economic reforms as soon as possible. The ministers reportedly also emphasized the need for Moscow to take responsibility for solving its current economic crisis. The EU meeting, which took place in Salzburg, Austria, produced a decision indicating that the EU will offer no new financial support to Russia until the country makes progress in that resolution. The Russian economy was said to be the major topic of discussion during the two-day meeting.

According to some reports, the EU ministers agreed to send a “troika” mission–composed of foreign ministers from Austria, Britain and Germany–to Moscow for consultations on the Russian economic crisis. Diplomatic delegations from the three countries are to depart for Moscow tomorrow to work out details of the ministers’ visit. It is unclear when that visit might occur. (Itar-Tass, September 5, 7; Xinhua, September 6; Western agencies, September 7)

A proposal by Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini which called for a rescheduling of some of Russia’s debt repayments was reportedly nixed by Germany’s Foreign Minister. Klaus Kinkel, mindful of the approximately US$30 billion in loans extended to Russia by German banks (many of them guaranteed by the government), said that if Moscow wants continued Germany support for such loans, the debts will have to be repaid. (AP, September 6) Kinkel’s remarks came amid reports in the German press that Russia’s economic and political crisis could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in Germany, particularly in the former GDR. According to one estimate, eastern Germany exported approximately US$1.8 billion in products to Russia in 1997. Nearly 50,000 industrial jobs in the region were said to be at least partly dependent on trade with Russia. (AP, September 6)

This weekend’s EU meeting came as the G-7 countries–Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States–consulted over the scheduling of a meeting of their own to discuss Russia’s crisis. A British government spokesman was quoted on September 5 as saying that deputy foreign ministry and finance officials will soon meet in London in order to discuss Russia. A Japanese source said that the meeting is likely to take place on September 12. (Kyodo, September 7)