Russia: Still a Player 5605-russia-still-a-playerRussia: Still a Player15 March 1999 In January, more than 2,000 of the world's political and financial leaders convened at the Swiss ski resort Davos for the World Economic Forum, discussing--among other issues--the global financial crisis. Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov delivered a speech urging Western business leaders to invest in his country. But many commentators, including at the Russian daily Kommersant, noted the lower profile of Russian officials at the conference. Kommersant said Davos is no longer interested in us, and we are not interested in Davos. With the Group of Eight summit set for Cologne, Germany, on 18-20 June, Russian politicians are keen to emphasize the importance of Russia's role on the world stage. In an NTV interview broadcast on 31 January, Primakov denied Russia was being internationally sidelined. Excerpts follow:

NTV: I wanted to ask you something about Davos and the World Economic Forum. Many who have been coming here for years note that the posted program of the forum contains less and less about Russia, that the Russian delegation is getting smaller. I do not mean to offend you, but the meeting involving the Russian prime minister was held for the first time not in the main hall but in a side room.

Primakov: And do you know why? Because they were preparing for a banquet there at the time. They were tidying up in that hall.

NTV: Are you sure?

Primakov: Absolutely. Have you ever been in the hall you mentioned?

NTV: Of course.

Primakov: Well, it was full.

NTV: Indeed, it was. They were making it ready.

Primakov: Yes, they were making it ready.

NTV: It is possible, yes, that it was, so to speak, all like that. But nevertheless ...

Primakov: No, I do not agree with you. I cannot say that Russia was sidelined. And you probably cannot come to such a conclusion, because the most important events, after all, were focused on Russia. I made two speeches at the forum. There were many, many meetings. Then there was the continuing, immense interest in Russia. As for the numbers in the [Russian] delegation, I do not think that it was any smaller, and I would even say that there were very many people.

NTV: Last year there were more of them, and I had the impression that there was more interest in Russia.

Primakov: Well, it is difficult for me to compare because I am participating here for the first time. ... In any case, nobody has told us that we are being dropped from [G8]. And I think that it would not be in their interests because it would make it difficult to resolve anything--political matters in particular. ... I do not think that G8 has been reduced to G7 here,. although previously, this used to happen. You know that previously when economic issues to do with the crisis were being looked at, there were occasions when the foreign ministers and even finance ministers of G7 met, rather than those of G8.

NTV: Without Russia's participation.

Primakov: Indeed. That has happened.

Translation provided by BBC Monitoring. 5605-russia-still-a-player

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