The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference last night that the Millennium Summit had proved to be a pivotal event in the history of international relations. It had also provided the current generation of leaders with an opportunity to draw from its momentum and charge ahead with progress for humankind in all fields.
One of the great results of the Summit, Mr. Putin said, was that it reaffirmed the authority of the United Nations to lead in coordinating the search for peace by regional and subregional organizations and in the process of building collective security for international peace. The Russian Federation had made proposals to make international relations more secure, just and democratic. It had proposed, for example, an international conference on the prevention of the militarization of outer space. The meeting would be held early next year and would coincide with the anniversary of the first flight of a man into space. The first man in space was a Russian, Yuri Gagarin.
The Russian President said that there were other proposals for a draft document to ensure the peaceful use of enriched-uranium energy, to ensure the non-proliferation of nuclear materials and to help deal with the issue of radioactive waste.
The meeting of the Security Council during the Millennium Summit also supported increasing the operational potential of the Council as the guarantor of international stability, Mr. Putin said. Like other members of the Council, the Russian Federation would like to help improve the peacekeeping potential of the United Nations and strengthen the Organizationís central role in maintaining global and regional peace and security. That should be based on the rule of law and collective approaches for settling conflicts and arguments and for restoring peace.
The five permanent Security Council members had also published a statement of far-reaching importance, President Putin said. In it, they had reiterated their commitment to improve the efficiency of the Council and to keep its exclusive authority on the use of force to maintain peace.
Making further comments on the Millennium Summit, Mr. Putin said that the forum had offered opportunities to meet with many leaders and discuss international and bilateral matters. For example, he said, he had discussed cooperation to ensure strategic stability with the President of the United States. He had met with the leaders of China, Cyprus, Germany, Iran, South Africa, the United Kingdom and others. He would also meet with the Presidents of Cuba and of the Republic of Korea and with the United Nations Secretary- General.
In a question-and-answer session, the Russian President reiterated his view that the main significance of the Millennium Summit was that it had reaffirmed the United Nations role as the key international organization for
developing international relations. Both the Summitís draft declaration and the statement by the five permanent Security Council members confirmed the United Nations as the universal instrument for resolving international disputes and for maintaining international peace and security.
Responding to a question on his views regarding Security Council reform, President Putin said that the United Nations should be able to rely on helpful nations, if it was ever to come to grips with its challenges. Since Japan was one such country, the Russian Federation supported its permanent membership of the Council. The time was ripe for reform and it was essential, he added.
President Putin confirmed a reporterís suggestion, based on newspaper reports, that he had received technical information from the United States on the accident of the Russian submarine, Kursk. The information would be studied by Russian experts before action was taken, he said.
Asked about what he intended to do to improve the Russian economy, the President said he planned to make it similar to that of the industrialized countries. The Government, he continued, was working on a new economic programme as a top priority. First, President Putin said, the country needed economic laws and should decrease the tax burden. Further, he said, the banking industry should be restructured, the customs systems reorganized and the country should stay within its budget. The Russian Governmentís actions would soon yield tangible results, he said. For example, the economy was expected to grow by 7 per cent or more this year, with low inflation. The nationís currency reserves were twice last yearís volume and some regions had raised their industrial production 10-20-fold. Still, he said, Government institutions would be strengthened to carry out economic policies and enforce appropriate legislation. All those actions and results were being achieved in the context of the greater cohesion of political forces that enabled policies to be promulgated and implemented, he said.
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