As Alexander Stepanov, the Deputy Director of the Informational Service of the Russian Union of Producers, said while speaking at a press conference today, 'The issue of Russia's joining the World Trade Organisation is an issue of national security'. Mr. Stepanov believes Russia is not prepared for such a move. He said that, according to the calculations made by the Union of Producers, after Russia joins the WTO, production companies in about 900 Russia's towns and cities, their combined populations close to 40 million, will go out of business. This means one third of the whole nation will lose their livelihoods, he said.
'There is no doubt', Mr. Stepanov further said, 'Russia must join the WTO. Yet it must not be done in a hurry. China was preparing for 14 years before she entered the organisation and did it no sooner than the world was flooded with Chinese products. Also, a number of conditions Russia will have to comply with when joining are unacceptable. Russia's agricultural producers can not survive without the support of the government, yet the rules governing the WTO do not allow this support to continue on the necessary scale'.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969