19 June 2003


NEW YORK, 18 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the seventh St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, delivered by Brigita Schmögnerová, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe, in St. Petersburg, 18 to 20 June:


I am delighted to convey my warmest wishes to this seventh St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and to send my greetings to the city and people of St. Petersburg in this 300th anniversary year.

This Forum is a welcome opportunity to take an in-depth look at economic developments in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and to promote further economic cooperation and progress in this part of the world.  By bringing together high-level policy makers, industrialists, bankers and representatives from various international organizations and financial institutions, this Forum serves as a catalyst for mutually beneficial economic relations within and beyond the region.  By promoting trade and investment, it also has a contribution to make towards peace and security.  And with the forthcoming accession of East and Central European countries to the European Union, the Forum has an important role to play in working to prevent new divides by promoting closer economic ties between the enlarged European Union and the CIS.

Recent economic developments in Russia and most of the Commonwealth countries provide fertile ground for pursuing the goals of this Forum.  During the past three years, the Commonwealth has been one of the most dynamic areas of the global economy, with highly resilient domestic growth.  After years of difficult transition and sometimes painful economic reforms, you have entered a new phase in your development.  As summed up in the theme of this year’s Forum, “An Efficient Economy -- A Worthy Life”, you have started to harvest the fruits of your efforts.  At the same time, your theme points to the complex challenges that lie ahead, including the work to reach the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the world’s leaders at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The United Nations family will keep working with you in your efforts to reshape your future.  Through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the United Nations Development Programme, we have been actively engaged in providing various forms of assistance related to the reform agenda and have sought to support the integration of the Commonwealth countries into the world economy.  Together, we can contribute to the widening and deepening of economic co-operation in the region, and thus foster integration in the economy worldwide, for the benefit of all your nations.  In that spirit, I wish you a most fruitful conference.

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