G-7 SUMMIT: A TURNING POINT IN RUSSIA’S RELATIONS WITH THE WEST?
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 120
Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s appearance two days ago at the June 20 Group of Seven summit in Cologne appeared to mark a turning point in efforts by both Russia and the West to repair relations torn asunder during the alliance’s eleven-week air campaign against Yugoslavia. The Russian president seemed intent on both presenting a cooperative face to the West and proving that he remains a viable political force in Russia and on the world stage. He probably had greater success with the first endeavor than the second. Yeltsin, who was traveling abroad for the first time since an embarrassing visit to the Middle East in February, reportedly moved awkwardly and on several occasions required support from those around them. While he won verbal kudos from the G-7 leaders, his suspect state of health and Russia’s continuing political difficulties were undoubtedly factors in their decision to offer Moscow only modest pledges of economic assistance.
Moreover, during the three-day summit, the G-7 leaders were confronted with a dilemma. It lay in the fact that both Yeltsin and Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin reportedly pushed hard for Moscow’s formal inclusion into the G-7–in effect making it officially the Group of Eight–even as they lobbied the G-7 leaders for assistance. For Yeltsin, the effort to win full membership in the G-7 appeared to hearken back to the period before the latest Balkans conflict, when Moscow still sought membership in Western economic organizations as a sign of its vitality on the international stage. G-7 leaders spoke over the weekend of Russia’s status as an equal member of the exclusive club. It was unclear, however, whether they intended to make that status official, or were just engaging in more of the West’s usual rhetorical efforts to play down Russia’s dire economic and political straits.
DIFFERENCES ON KEY ISSUES UNLIKELY TO GO AWAY.