Kremlin says Russian international policy unchanged
March 23, 1998
Web posted at: 10:22 a.m. EDT (1022 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- President Boris Yeltsin's dismissal of the
government will not affect Russia's international relations,
the Kremlin said Monday.
"Russian foreign policy is based on long-term national
interests, and changes in the government cannot influence its
course," presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a
news conference after Yelstin's announcement.
That position was echoed by Foreign Minister Yevgeny
Primakov, who was among those fired in the shakeup. "Our
foreign policy will not change, it will be the same," the
Russian Interfax news agency quoted Primakov as saying
Monday, shortly before a meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister
The Kremlin also underlined that Thursday's planned troika
meeting involving Yeltsin, French President Jacques Chirac
and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl would go ahead.
International reaction to the shakeup:
"President Yeltsin said the economic reform course would be
maintained, and that is the essential point for us," said
French deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux.
Doutriaux added there would be no official reaction from
France because Paris considers the Cabinet shakeup a domestic
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's office declined to comment,
but other German officials told CNN the announcement came as
a major surprise.
While the foreign ministry said it was too early to comment
on the move, business leaders in Germany, a key trading
partner of Russia, were watching carefully for possible
changes in Russia's economic reform program.
A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain is "watching
developments very closely."
"We don't expect any change in the United Kingdom's or the
European Union's underlying relationship with Russia. Britain
currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU", he said.
"(Lithuanian) President Valdas Adamkus thinks that the
change of government is an internal matter and is a normal
democratic procedure," a spokeswoman for Adamkus said.
The Baltic News Service quoted the government of the smallest
Baltic state, Estonia, as saying it saw no need to interrupt
the formation of an inter-government commission being set up
to iron out various bilateral issues.
Latvia, whose ties with Russia recently have been rocky, said
politicians would continue to work for good relations.
President Bill Clinton learned about Yeltsin's move while on
a visit to Ghana.
"We don't interfere in the internal affairs of any country
and as president he (Yeltsin) has to constitute the
government as he sees fit," Clinton said.
"We hope that the general direction of policy will be
unaffected by this (Cabinet dismissal) and I have no reason
to believe that anything different will occur ... that's at
all adverse to the partnership we have been building with
Russia," he said. 339K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said the Cabinet dismissal
would not change Japan's intent to pursue stronger bilateral
ties with Russia.
"As for Japan and Russia's relations, we don't have any
intention to change the present trend from our side,"
There has been no official Chinese comment on the firing of
the Russian Cabinet, but the Chinese media have reported it.
Political analysts say China is interested in maintaining the
constructive work relationship between Beijing and Moscow
with regard to such issues as trade and the resolution of
Paris Bureau Chief Peter Humi, Berlin Bureau Chief Bill
Delaney, Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon and Reuters contributed to this report.