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Press review: G7 powerless without Russia and Normandy Four's return to Minsk talks

April 07, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, April 7

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© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

 

Izvestia: G7 powerless in tackling global crises without Moscow

The Italian city of Lucca is going to host an upcoming summit for top diplomats from G7 member states to try to resurrect the G8 format. However, a Russian diplomatic source told Izvestia, Russia will not return to the G8 club.

The forthcoming meeting will be devoted to issues of peace and security. The diplomats will focus on terrorism, the crises in Libya and Syria, compliance with the Minsk accords, and compare notes on the next launch of the ballistic missile by North Korea. "Tackling many of these issues, according to some Western politicians, is impossible without Russia," the newspaper said.

At the same time, according to Izvestia, Moscow stresses it was not excluded from the club, since it is not an international organization and does not issue any "membership cards".

"Russia will not return to the G7 club. There is another format for discussing international problems - the Group of Twenty and this quite suits us," a Russian diplomatic source told Izvestia.

"The G8 format does not interest Russia anymore, since everything is decided at the G20 summit. At the moment, the G7 is a club of wealthy people," Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich told Izvestia.

According to the newspaper, however, under certain conditions, some politicians believe that a return to the global elite club is possible, only after normalization of relations with the West, and once the anti-Russian sanctions are lifted.

"If the format changes and we hear something intelligible, then after that we will consider this issue, but only after all sanctions are lifted. The West understands that many issues related to the fight against international terrorism and energy stability depend on Russia. They cannot solve it independently. We are being dragged there to be forced once again to play by other people's rules," State Duma MP Viktor Vodolatsky told Izvestia.

 

Vedomosti: Economic Development Ministry shifts gears in economic forecast

The Ministry of Economic Development submitted a revised forecast for 2017 and the first version of the forecast for 2018-2020 to the government. According to Vedomosti, there are two scenarios - basic and target. Both are based on similar possible external conditions - in particular, assumed decreases in oil prices by the end of 2017 to $40 per barrel.

According to the newspaper, the basic, conservative option will become the basis for the budget, and as Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said earlier the target scenario is considered realistic. The conservative option path also includes shifting the tax burden from the oil sector, which is currently only being hashed over, three federal officials told Vedomosti. This scenario is based on "economic policy shifting towards investment activity," the Economic Development Ministry said.

On Thursday, April 6, three hours before the press conference at the Ministry of Economic Development, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev held a meeting on the forecast, which was generally approved by the participants, sources told Vedomosti.

The Ministry’s forecast seems oversimplified, Chief Economist at Alfa-Bank Natalia Orlova told the newspaper. "It is possible that the Economic Development Ministry is going to propose structural reforms, but currently there are no discussions of any plan that could help achieve this economic effect," she said. The expert doubts that investment imports can accelerate with a weak exchange rate. "In theory, you can imagine that there will be some incentives if companies buy equipment for modernization. However in general, an accelerated growth economy attracts more capital and the exchange rate is strengthened."

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Normandy Four presidential advisers meet to pave way for more negotiations

A meeting between the advisers of Vladimir Putin, Pyotr Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, was held yesterday in Minsk, paving the way for organizing negotiations between the leaders of the Normandy Format. However, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, it did not bring the resolution of the conflict in Donbass any closer.

The question of the order in which the parties should carry out the previous agreements (from September 2014 and from February 2015) remained the primary stumbling block. Kiev continues to insist on the priority of the block of security-related items. Russia proposed implementing the Minsk accords in their original order, which does not imply the dissolution of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, but the beginning of dialogue between Kiev and the republics’ leadership.

The situation, unfortunately, is also exacerbated by the fact that due to ongoing tension, the parties still cannot withdraw heavy weapons. This situation forced the Russian side to accept a proposal to go the meeting of presidential advisers in Minsk in the first place.

The meeting was made possible by the efforts of German Chancellor Merkel and the President France. According to the newspaper, it is unclear how exactly Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande came up this this proposal. Still, according to a White House press release, on April 5, on the eve of the talks, Angela Merkel had a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump where both leaders talked about "the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan."

A Nezavisimaya Gazeta source in Kiev said that by coordinating their actions with Trump's team, Merkel and Hollande are now making "the last breakthrough in an attempt to settle the situation in Donbass with the help of Minsk agreements." According to the source, the purpose of the meeting between the presidential advisors was to try to coordinate a "road map" for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Stronger ruble encourages Russians to travel internationally rather than domestically

Over the past year, the dollar and euro fell by almost one-third in Russia, which in turn led to a drop in prices for international travel. According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, at the same time domestic tourism prices have not declined, but only increased. As a result, instead of Crimea or St. Petersburg, many Russian tourists are going to visit Prague or Turkish resorts.

Almost all online travel services noted the surge in Russians’ desire for intentional travel. "In regard to finances, tourists began to feel more confident, which affected the growth in demand. Russians spent less during their trips than last year, which it also became an additional incentive for planning vacations," Development Director of travel service OneTwoTrip Arkady Gines told the newspaper.

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) agrees with the conclusion. "Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are the frontrunners for May holiday destinations," ATOR Executive Director Maya Lomidze told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, noting that Russian destinations are only in 5th place.

According to experts, the ruble’s strengthening is not the only cause for the surge in the international tourism market. "Saturation of the domestic tourism market played an important role. When the ruble was weak, many tourists chose domestic destinations, however, now they are looking for something new," Finam analyst Timur Nigmatullin said.

According to the newspaper, another reason is rising prices for domestic destinations. The competitive advantage that domestic tourism received as a result of the ruble’s devaluation might have been exhausted due to negative impact of inflation and the growth of services’ costs in the absence of competition.

 

Kommersant: Mobile operators might unite to develop 5G network

The Moscow city government and mobile operators are hashing over creating a consortium for the development of the fifth generation communication network (5G), Kommersant wrote. The authorities are ready to ease any administrative barriers for the 5G network, which can cost operators up to $10 bln.

"5G will require the participants of the mobile market to multiply the number of base stations and a completely different principle of network planning, which will involve large investments. It means that the operators, in fact, will once again have to build a large infrastructure, which is quite difficult. So in order to not strip the 5G project of its investment attractiveness, we are thinking about joining efforts," Head of the Information Technology Department of the Moscow Government Artem Ermolaev told the newspaper.

Mobile operators are expected to strike an agreement by the end of 2017. The technology might be launched for commercial use by 2021, market participants told the newspaper.

"The support of Moscow City Hall and other regional government is very important for telecom operators, since the issues of locating communication equipment and supplying electricity can only be solved together in general," a source in Russia’s second largest mobile phone operator MegaFon told Kommersant. Tele2 said that they do not participate in the discussion of this project, but will consider the possibility of joining the consortium. MTS told the newspaper that they do not know about the 5G consortium. "It seems to us that it is too early to talk about this, since 5G will be adopted as a standard only by 2020," the representative of MTS told Kommersant. Vimpelcom declined to comment on the matter. The Ministry of Communications told the newspaper, they would "support the efforts by regional authorities of all levels aimed at developing the communication infrastructure."

 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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