Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 162

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday moved to assert his personal control over foreign policy by setting up a new Council on Foreign Policy which will be responsible directly to him, his press service said. The Council’s "main tasks are to draw up proposals for the president … on ways to ensure the concerted action of government bodies in foreign policy, and to inform the president on the foreign policy aspects of the activity of government bodies." The Council is to include the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, foreign trade, finance, the heads of the foreign intelligence, security, and border guard services, and Yeltsin’s foreign policy adviser. The Council will convene on a monthly basis. (12)

The primary purpose of the new body will apparently be to ensure that the policy decided on by the president is implemented. The Council seems designed to function much like the U.S. National Security Council, whose ultimate raison d’être is to recommend to the president ways to resolve disagreements among government departments and agencies. Establishment of the mechanism may presage at least an attempt to rein in Grachev and the military, and a somewhat graceful resignation for Kozyrev, who is out of favor with the forces that will play a big role in the new Duma. However, the new body is unlikely to be effective, at least as long as Yeltsin is president. This president is either too physically, politically, or temperamentally weak to stand against the gathering tide of anti-Western and anti-U.S. sentiment of his country’s political elite.

Moscow and Tehran to Settle Debts.