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RUSSIA - April 18 - Putin Addresses Duma.

In an annual state-of-the-nation address to the Duma, Pres. Putin warns that the country's "possibilities in world economics and politics will contract" unless it can increase its economic growth rate. He criticises the government for its medium-term forecast of a 3.5-4.6% annual growth rate. (Putin first pressed his ministers for ideas on raising the country's growth rate after reviewing the government's medium-term strategy last week. At last year's 5% growth rate, he said, the country would need another 18 years to reach the living standards of Portugal today). He says this is "not helpful" and "does not imply an active policy". He blames a "cumbersome, clumsy and ineffective state apparatus" for limiting the country's growth potential, adding that the country needs a more compact, more open and less interventionist bureaucracy. He says: "No one is going to war with us in the modern world... but no one is really waiting for us either, no one will help us specially. We have to fight for our place in the economic sun". He repeats his calls to join the WTO, adding that the country is "already in world trade, but (with) no say in shaping the rules of world trade". He says companies that want to "sit behind a fence of protectionists quotas" are "absolutely doomed strategically". He says the Kremlin's foreign policy is "purely pragmatic". Its main partners in the world remained the ex-Soviet countries in the CIS. Work with these countries is "a main foreign policy priority of Russia", he adds. Other priorities include "permanent dialogue" with the US, better relations with NATO, and the creation of a "single economic state" for trade and investment with the EU.
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Title Annotation:Vladimir Putin
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Apr 20, 2002
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