Annan urges Russia and neighbours to focus on Millennium Development Goals

In an address today to the eighth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, delivered on his behalf by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, Mr. Annan said the conference offers an opportunity to promote greater economic cooperation between the Russian Federation, the CIS and the rest of the world. “After years of difficult transition and sometimes painful economic reforms, many of the countries in the CIS [comprised of former constituent states of the Soviet Union] have entered a new phase in their development. The CIS has been one of the most dynamic regions of the global economy during the last four years,” he said. But he stressed that while measures such as the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index show that living conditions for most people within the CIS have improved since the late 1990s, some regional indicators from the World Health Organization (WHO) remain a cause for deep concern. Mr. Annan urged delegates to pay close attention to the MDGs, a set of eight, time-specific targets – such as halving extreme poverty, reducing child mortality and achieving universal primary-level education – agreed to by world leaders at a summit in 2000. The Secretary-General added that the recent inclusion in the European Union of eight countries from Eastern and Central Europe means the forum is also well placed to encourage stronger economic ties between the enlarged EU and the CIS.

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