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Rule of Law Key to Russian Economic Development – Carl Bildt

In a speech to the Andrei Sacharov Foundation Conference in Moscow on 21st May 2011, Carl Bildt outlined his vision of development and globalisation with respect to Russia.

In an address entitled “Russia and the World” the Swedish Foreign Minister underlined the historic co-operation between Sweden and Russia, pointing out that Sweden is one of the top ten foreign investors in Russia. Mr Bildt also highlighted the difficulties that lie ahead in the “third phase” of globalisation, which he said will take place in Asia.

The Foreign Minister argued that, in order to maintain competitive in a free market, the EU and Russia would need to forge ahead with new ideas and innovation, that would only be possible in the context of strong institutions and rule of law:

“…institutions that encourage private initiative through transparency, predictability, confidence and longer planning horizons.

“Or, put another way: through the rule of law.

“I don’t really have to go deeply into these issues here, because they are so well known, and they have been graphically described at the highest political level here in Moscow.

“Only yesterday, President Medvedev in a speech in St Petersburg argued that the future of countries to a large extent is decided by the quality of their legal systems.

“Is Russia prepared to modernize in order to become a fully integrated member of an international transparent and rule-based community?…

“…Russian membership in WTO is emblematic, but not exhaustive – it is only one part and just the beginning of the answer.”

On 20th May 2011, President Medvedev told the St Petersburg International Legal Forum:

“Successful social and economic reform, and adjustments to the international financial system – the things we have been working on over these last years – are not possible without modern and effective laws and a new framework for the international legal system…

“…Problems with enforcing laws, lack of respect for the courts, and corruption are not just issues affecting our public life, but are macroeconomic factors holding back our national wealth growth and putting a brake on our efforts to carry out economic decisions and social initiatives. The quality and competitiveness of legal institutions therefore play a vital part for assuring all countries’ future, the Russian Federation’s too.”

The President has tasked the Justice Ministry with monitoring the enforcement of law within the Russian Federation and producing an annual report. Dimitri Medvedev also accepted that Russia needs to bring itself into line with common rules and norms in order to operate globally.

In his speech, Mr Bildt invited Russia to develop a fully integrated economy which is not restricted to the export of energy and raw materials:

“The world needs the brilliance of Russian scientists… and the dynamism of a younger generation of Russian entrepreneurs.

“And of course it needs Russia as a partner in solving global political challenges.”

Russia is already a member of the Council of Europe and has a number of co-operation agreements with the EU, as well as close co-operation with NATO. Mr Bildt referred briefly to the breakdown in trust caused by the gas dispute of 2009, but his comments on the rule of law in Russia deal with the few remaining blocks to discussions on Russian accession to the EU.

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Politics Desk
Editors and staffers from the Politics Desk at The Global Herald.

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