I am delighted to convey my warmest wishes to all the participants in this ninth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and to send my greetings to the city and people of St. Petersburg.
This forum offers an opportunity to take an in-depth look at economic developments in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to promote further economic cooperation and progress in this part of the world. By bringing together high-level policy-makers, industrialists, bankers and representatives from various international organizations and financial institutions, it also serves as a catalyst for trade, investment and mutually beneficial economic relations within and beyond the region, contributing in turn to peace and security. And with the entry of eight East and Central European countries into the European Union, the Forum has an important role to play in preventing new divides from arising by promoting closer economic ties between the enlarged EU and the CIS.
Focused as you are on the dramatic changes still unfolding in your own region, there is at the same time a need for your countries to engage fully in the process of reform and revitalization that is high on the agenda at the United Nations. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of our founding at the end of the Second World War. It is also a year in which we are thinking ahead. Towards that end, I have put before the membership a report, entitled “In Larger Freedom”, that contains far-reaching recommendations for defeating poverty, strengthening human rights, building an effective collective security system and strengthening the United Nations itself. I believe that the Summit to be held in September at the United Nations in New York can be a time of bold and even historic decisions. But success will depend on the ability of Governments and world leaders to heal their divisions, and work together for the common good.
As these reform efforts move ahead, the United Nations family –including the Economic Commission for Europe, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and a number of UN agencies –will continue to be your partner. Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.