World Reacts Calmly to Yeltsin’s Actions

BONN (Reuters)–World leaders reacted calmly on Monday to Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s surprise sacking of his government–welcoming his decision to re-appoint Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister five months after firing him.

The United States and other top industrialized countries stressed the need for continued reforms to overcome an acute economic crisis–but most appeared to view the 60-year-old Chernomyrdin as a stabilizing factor amid the political turmoil. Focusing on Russia’s economic woes–a White House spokesman’said: "It’s most important for acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to take effective steps to deal with the economic issues confronting the Russian government."

But in a sign of "business-as-usual," the spokesman added that a planned summit in Moscow was still on between US President Bill Clinton and Yeltsin on September 1-2. The summit has been expected to focus primarily on economic issues.

Both Germany and France welcomed the announcement of Chernomyrdin’s return to his old job to replace the 36-year-old Sergei Kiriyenko–whose government Yeltsin dismissed on Sunday following economic crises and a collapse in the value of the ruble.

rench Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine urged the West to keep cool about Russia’s future–declaring: "Over the medium- and long-term–this country is on a path towards construction and reconstruction and deserves our continued confidence. "We must not analyze the situation in Russia in darkly pessimistic terms as if we had lost all historic perspective."

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl expressed confidence that Chernomyrdin could rally support to carry out economic reforms–which German officials said was pivotal in winning back the trust of international investors.

In a statement–government spokesman Otto Hauser quoted Kohl as saying he valued Chernomyrdin as someone "the government knows well and respects. He trusts that Chernomyrdin can–in the face of the drama and seriousness of the situation in Russia–push through the necessary decisions."

Germany is concerned about the economic fallout from the Russian crisis should Moscow default on foreign loans and uncertainties if the crisis leads to political instability.

Finance Minister Theo Waigel sounded a note of caution–saying he was concerned about the Russian crisis. "Ruble exchange rates can only be stabilized again if Russia’succeeds in winning back confidence,” Waigel said.

In Tokyo–Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was sanguine about the latest upheaval in Russian politics. "I hope things will proceed as scheduled and think there will be no change," he said–adding: "There is nothing we can do but wait and see."

European Union Commission President Jacques Santer said there was no alternative solution to Russia’s deep-seated problems than a reform package agreed in July with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition for $11.2 billion in aid.

"Of course we are concerned about the evolution in Russia… I think that it is very important that all governmen’s–whoever is a member of that government–implement the economic and financial reforms," Santer told Reuters at the annual European Forum in Austria–the current EU president.

Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek–mindful of the influence of Russia’s economy on East European markets–reacted with cautious optimism.

"I understand the decision mainly aims to stabilize the economy as Prime Minister Chernomyrdin’s name carries international weight and he has always been regarded as an advocate of reforms," Buzek said. Turkey welcomed Yeltsin’s move.

"We hope these measures will secure stability as soon as possible. An unstable Russia is not a desirable thing for the region," Anatolian news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.


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