The Sixth Petersburg Economic Forum has opened in the city on the Neva. Chairman of the Federation Council (the Upper House of the Russian Parliament) Sergei Mironov declared the Forum open and read out the message of greetings from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The message says in part that the Petersburg Economic Forum has become an appreciable event in the economic life of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The President noted that this year the Forum participants would have to discuss intensification of economic cooperation and the deepening of the integration processes in the countries of the Commonwealth, and specially emphasised the urgency of such themes as the entry into the WTO, progress in the sphere of high technologies and the development of small and medium business.
Vladimir Putin is convinced that the Forum, being "an authoritative and representative assembly," can "really contribute to the appearance of interesting initiatives, new ideas and decisions." The President wished the Forum participants fruitful work.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.