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Post-War Iraqi Administration Should Observe Continuity in Fulfilling International Obligations - 28 March, 2003

No matter what the post-war Iraqi administration may be it should preserve continuity in fulfilling international obligations, Russian vice-premier and finance minister Alexei Kudrin said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

Iraq owes Russia more than eight billion dollars. It did not pay off this debt because of the sanctions imposed on it. "We believe that when the sanctions are lifted the post-war Iraqi authorities will observe the norms of international law," the vice-premier pointed out. He stressed that Russia, as an official creditor of Iraq, has the right to insist that talks be conducted on liquidating the debt and determining the schedule of payments.

"As of today, such continuity is the most important question for us," Kudrin said.

He called the support for Russian companies, which have contracts in Iraq, the second important problem. "It is impossible to cross out everything and begin from a scratch in the post-war period," Kudrin stated. "It is necessary that our companies be allowed to fulfil earlier concluded contracts," he continued.

As far as the consistent restoration of the Iraqi economy is concerned, there are more talks than real understanding on the problem so far, Kudrin believes. Referring to his experience of participating in international conferences devoted to the post-war restoration of the economies of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, the vice-premier underlined that usually the means earmarked by the donor countries for these purposes were not big.

President Bush, Kudrin recalled, declared in the US Congress that in the case of Iraq the point at issue would be a sum of about two billion dollars. If we add to this the frozen assets of Iraq to the tune of more than one billion dollars, the question all the same remains of what sums will be contributed by other countries. "They will be considerably less," Kudrin supposed. In other words, the point at issue will be small means, and it will be senseless to fight for their distribution, Kudrin pointed out.

At the same time the vice-premier stressed that "Russian specialists will be needed there where oil torches will have to be put out and oil production resumed." "Such work was conducted in Chechnya, above all with the participation of the Rosneft state company," Kudrin explained and added that "we have experience and can share it."