Schroeder told reporters yesterday that, during his brief, forty-minute meeting with Primakov, the two had discussed both how to improve conditions for foreign investors in Russia and how to make the government’s economic plan acceptable to the world major financial institutions. Schroeder and Primakov also reportedly discussed a host of international issues, including the ongoing conflicts in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. Schroeder made clear that, while Germany would continue to provide Russia with both humanitarian aid and expertise, Moscow could expect no financial bailout. He said that he and Primakov had agreed to consult regularly by telephone. That sort of close communication had previously been conducted by Yeltsin and Kohl.
Primakov and Schroeder each emphasized that German-Russian relations would remain a priority despite recent changes of government in both countries. Primakov told reporters that the two countries favored “continuity and consistency” in bilateral relations, regardless of who specifically was in power in each country. “Our relations are based on the fact that both Germany and Russia play a big role in Europe and in the world,” Primakov said. He also said German-Russian relations were not directed at any third country (Russian agencies, Reuters, November 16).
Schroeder is but the latest of a group of officials from the world’s leading democracies to visit Moscow in recent days. Last week, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, Germany Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (in preparation for Schroeder’s visit), and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi all held talks in the Russian capital. The other Western leaders, like Schroeder, were looking in particular for information about the Russian government’s economic anticrisis plan. They were also seeking to ascertain the state of the Russian president’s health and the degree to which he was still calling the shots–if at all–in the Kremlin.
CHECHEN AUTHORITIES BOTCH ATTEMPT TO ARREST REBEL FIELD COMMANDER.