Press Releases

                                                                                                                     16 June 2004

    Secretary-General, in Message to Saint Petersburg Forum, Promises Continued UN Help for Economic Reforms of Commonwealth of Independent States

    NEW YORK, 15 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the eighth Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, 15 June:

    I convey my warmest wishes to all participants in this eighth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and I send my greetings to the city and people of St. Petersburg.

    This gathering of high-level policy makers, industrialists, bankers and representatives from international organizations and financial institutions is a welcome opportunity to promote further economic cooperation and progress in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.  And with the recent entry of eight East and Central European countries into the European Union, the forum also has an important role to play in strengthening economic ties between the enlarged European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

    After years of difficult transition and sometimes-painful economic reforms, many of the countries in the CIS have entered a new phase in their development.  The CIS has been one of the most dynamic regions of the global economy during the last four years.  As the theme of this year’s forum underlines, the key is to develop an efficient economy that produces a worthy life for citizens.

    Quality of life is notoriously hard to measure.  Indicators such as the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) show that the condition of the majority of the population in most CIS countries has improved since the late 1990s.  On the other hand, indicators such as the Health Adjusted Life Expectancy of the World Health Organization (WHO) show that much still remains to be done to improve the quality of life in the CIS.  In all your efforts to strengthen your economies and promote economic reform, I urge you to remain focused on achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the world’s leaders at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

    Through the Economic Commission for Europe, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, WHO and UNDP, the United Nations provides a range of assistance to support your reform efforts and to help integrate your economies with the global economy.  The United Nations family will keep working with you to change your future for the better and meet the development targets agreed in 2000.  In that spirit, I wish you a most fruitful conference.

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