08/24/1998 16:25:37 World takes shock Russian government sacking calmly
BONN, Aug 24 (Reuters) - World leaders reacted calmly on
Monday to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's surprise sacking of
his government, welcoming his decision to reappoint Viktor
Chernomyrdin as prime minister five months after firing him.
The United States and other top industrialised 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 stabilising 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 U.S.
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
French 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 analyse 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.
"Rouble exchange rates can only be stabilised 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 governments, 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
"I understand the decision mainly aims to stabilise 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.