Opening Remarks at a Meeting with Director of the International Monetary Fund Horst Koehler 2003-11-13 16:25:00 The Kremlin, Moscow Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, I am very happy to see you today. Both you, Mr Koehler, and your colleagues. I am pleased that despite the discontinuance in credits received from the IMF, contacts between us continue. I think that one of the topics which we could discuss today is organising our interaction in these conditions. I know that specialists are discussing the possibility of our experts working directly in the Fund, in advancing several ideas of the Fund, including in the discussion of such global issue as reforming the Bretton-Wood monetary system. Furthermore – you have just mentioned yourself that you had come here from Kyrgyzstan – I know that the Fund also has plans to work in other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. As you know, Russia has special relations with all these countries, due to the fact that we existed within one nation for a long time. We have a considerable degree of interdependency, both economic and financial, and we are interested in what the Fund is planning. On the other hand, we would like to discuss the possibility of our participation in these programmes, because, as you know, we are discussing various problems of economic integration in the area of the former Soviet Union, and are working on various integration schemes. This is of special interest for us, bearing in mind our plans – and you probably know about them – to develop economic relations with the European Union. A document was just signed in Rome on a common economic space. And these plans should interconnect with our plans in the area of the former Soviet Union. In this sense, advice of the Fund, and perhaps even direct involvement in developing specific directions in this cooperation, are of very serious interest for us. And finally, while our specialists are prepared to work directly in the Fund, and to help the Fund, we are also interested in your opinion, and the opinion of your colleagues on the development of the Russian economy. As you know, in Russia today inflation is at a level of around 9.5% to 10%. The Government plans to keep this level under 12% based on this year’s results. Now it is around 10%. I know you have your own opinion on this matter. It would be interesting to hear it. I would also be interested to know your opinion on what is happening with the effective real currency rate of the rouble. The Central Bank here is pursuing, in my opinion, a very careful policy. And it is in a difficult situation – an unusual situation, under currency pressure in connection with certain events on foreign markets. As far as I have heard, your specialists have their own opinion on this matter – on how macro-economic figures can be strengthened in other ways. In my opinion, what the Central Bank is doing today is based on the realities of the situation in Russia. It would nevertheless be interesting to hear your opinion.