|Press Release No. 03/08
January 22, 2003
|International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA
Lucerne Conference on the CIS-7
A conference on the seven poorest countries of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS-7) ended in Lucerne today with a call to donors to find
ways to increase financial assistance on grant terms to the countries of the
CIS-7. "Donor assistance in the form of highly concessional finance and debt
relief will only succeed if linked to effective reform," said World Bank
Managing Director Shengman Zhang in his concluding statement on behalf of the
four co-sponsoring organizations (International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank,
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Asian Development
The CIS-7 Initiative was launched a year ago to address concerns about the
severe economic difficulties, increases in poverty, and rapid build-up of debt
in many of the CIS-7 countries since independence in the early 1990s. The
countries covered by the Initiative are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz
Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The Lucerne conference, which brought together government and civil society
representatives from the CIS-7 as well as the international donor community,
broadened and deepened the debate to include a range of economic, institutional
and social issues that must be tackled if the seven countries are to achieve the
targets of the Millenium Development Goals.
A wide range of substantive papers were prepared for the conference and are
available on the CIS-7 web site in English and Russian (www.CIS7.org).
Conference participants emphasized that achieving ownership of the reform
agenda by governments and people is key in assuring implementation of reforms
reflecting clear national priorities. The Poverty Reduction Strategy process,
now underway in all seven countries, is designed to reinforce this sense of
ownership by putting the countries themselves in the driver's seat of reforms.
Participants underlined the importance of better governance and fighting
corruption. "While recent evidence shows corruption is moderating and the
investment climate is beginning to improve, the key remains continued economic
and institutional reform and a more open and inclusive society," said Mr. Zhang.
Regional cooperation and better integration of the small and relatively
isolated CIS-7 economies was a recurring theme at the two-day conference.
"Recovery and future prosperity will depend crucially on successful regional
integration and improved access to markets in the rest of the world," said Mr.
The Initiative's co-sponsoring agencies will now work with CIS-7 governments,
donors and civil society to elaborate follow-up actions on finance and debt
relief, ownership and governance, capacity building, and regional integration.
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