Russia to write off the debt of the world
Pravda Online: 06/21/2005 by Oleg Artyukov
Syria, African countries, the states of the former USSR will not be able to return their billion-dollar debts to Russia.
The Russian administration seemingly suffers from redundant unselfishness. At first the Russian government agreed to write off $10 billion of Syria's debt. After that, Aleksey Kudrin, the Russian Minister for Finances, stated during the G8 summit in London that Russia was ready to write off $2 billion to African states. Andrey Ishchuk, a member of the Federation Council, stated last Thursday that Russia could consider the issue about writing off a partial debt to the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It goes about 3.5 billion dollars.
Proponents of such policy believe that the above-mentioned debtors will not be able to return the funds to Russia anyway. Syria is not likely to refund billions of dollars to Russia in the foreseeable perspective indeed. Miraculous economic growth is not likely to occur in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia or Tajikistan either: former Soviet states will not be able to repay their million-dollar debts too. Georgia owes Russia some $150 million, whereas Armenia's debt is evaluated at less than $100 million.
Speaking about the opportunity to write off the debts to CIS states, Andrey Ishckuk stated that the Russian government was ready to consider the terms for writing off the debts to Russia's neighbors. "We are ready to help," the official concluded.
The senator touched upon the problem of the CIS reform too. According to the official, it is about time the sides should clarify the plans on the matter. "The reform of the Commonwealth should particularly include the reform of governmental structures within the Commonwealth," RIA Novosti quoted the senator as saying. One should find out, which of those structures can be considered as useful, and which ones need to be abolished because of their uselessness, Andrey Ishchuk believes.
According to the Russian senator, the opportunity to write off the debts is directly connected with the reform of the CIS, which makes the initiative of the Russian government to take a political, rather than economic character.
One should bear in mind changes, which took place in several post-Soviet states recently. Tatiana Stanovaya, a chief expert with the Center for Political Technologies, believes that Ukraine, Georgia and Moldavia will have a pragmatic approach to the idea to write off the debt. These countries are obviously interested in such an opportunity, although they are not going to make any political concessions to Russia. On the other hand, Russia can come to compromise with the states, the governments of which are concerned about their power against the background of possible revolutions and the pressure of the Western community. Such a phenomenon can be currently observed in Uzbekistan, for example.
The director of the Center for Political Studies, Vladimir Razuvayev, thinks that the idea about possible debt privileges becomes clear, if it is viewed as a part of the problem of the CIS reform. Otherwise, Russia does not benefit at all if it condones a part of debt to CIS states. The negative side of such a decision is obvious already.
The expert also paid attention to so-called revolution-prone countries. Russia's relations with Georgia and Ukraine are highly complicated at the moment, Vladimir Razuvayev believes. If the Russian administration raises the debt issue, both Georgia and Ukraine will advocate the debt forgiveness. It is noteworthy, though, that the state of economic affairs in these two countries is not so miserable to make Russia meet their requirements at this point.
On the whole, the dialogue with the countries of the former Soviet Union has been developing firmly during the recent years, the expert said. Consequently, it will be possible to discuss the question about partial debt forgiveness within the scope of bilateral relations, only if the issue corresponds with Russia's interests, Vladimir Razuvayev specified.
Read the original in Russian.
(Translated by: Dmitry Sudakov)
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