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#21 - JRL 7011
January 10, 2003
Marek Belka: "Russia will Never Enter into the European Union"
The former Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, exclusive for PRAVDA.Ru

His detractors and some sources in the Polish diplomatic world say he cannot freely walk down Warsaw streets. Marek Belka introduced in the 1990's the free market drastic reforms in the former communist Poland, which drove unemployment up to 18%. After leaving public affairs in 2002, this controversial man joined JP Morgan as Senior Advisor for Central and Eastern Europe. PRAVDA.Ru could dialogue with him at the Polish Embassy in Buenos Aires and he expressed his opinions about relations between Russia and the European Union.

PRAVDA.Ru: Mr. Belka, Could you please tell us your opinion about a possible integration of Russia into the EU? Do you foresee a short-term process or should we expect a long time road?

M.Belka: "I don't think Russia will ever enter into the European Union. It's too big for Europe. But I can imagine very easily special relations between the EU and Russia and between both and NAFTA. But of course, the crucial issue will be, again, agriculture. Russia and Ukraine may flood Europe with food, as their production is very much cheaper than EU members are. Russia will have special trade agreements with both EU and NAFTA, which will be more convenient for Russian people."

PRAVDA.Ru: What's your opinion about the relation between Russia and Multilateral Credit Agencies?

M.Belka: "Well, Russia fell into a trap with the IMF. They ask everybody to privatize, privatize, liberalize and Russia did it. But I don't blame Russia on mass privatization because there was no other way in which Russia could ever privatize their state assets. I mean, they had to replace their communist economy by oligarchy. I am sorry to say, but they prefer Lukoil's tycoon to Brezhnev. No matter how you dislike the robbery of 5 million dollars in a few years, it is better than having this total waste of resources. I blame on Russians that they completely liberalize the financial market without any consideration of institutions to control. There was no serious bank supervision in Russia in the first years of transition. Well, this is a clue to understand what the people at the IMF want. We (Poland) never fell into a trap with them. We never mass-privatized; we did a gradual building up of institutions."

Mr. Belka also referred to globalization: "It is a very dangerous game. It is like a highway: you have to observe certain rules as you drive at great speed. If you don't, then you are dead. In the financial world is the same: you have to follow Anglo-American rules for doing businesses; if not, you are out."

At the end, he expressed his satisfaction about the negotiations of Polish authorities to become full member of the European Union by May 2004. "This is a take it or leave it negotiation and it is not little thing. Eventually, EU aims to political union. It's a mixture of political, economical and cultural association, but we need a special treatment during the transition process." For the former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, this country may join the Euro area by 2007: "This is the earliest date we can consider realistically", he said.

Belka left Leszek Miller's center-left Government due to controversies over 2003 year's budget affecting the image of Poland's financial stability. He is going to stay in Latin America with his family on holidays and will come back to Warsaw by February to keep on monitoring the Central and Eastern European finances for JP Morgan investments.

Hernan Etchaleco



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