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Russia’s ex-finance minister: Russia and the West must try to hear each other in Davos

Kurdin said that there would be no avoiding discussions of the situation in eastern Ukraine

DAVOS, January 21. /TASS/. Russia and the West must try to hear each other at the forthcoming World Economic Forum that opens in Switzerland’s Davos, Russia's former Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin told TASS on Wednesday ahead of the official opening.

The Russian delegation to the Davos forum will be led by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who plans to meet with representatives of Western businesses. A representative Ukrainian delegation is expected at the forum. It will be led by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Kurdin said that there would be no avoiding discussions of the situation in eastern Ukraine, which had seriously deteriorated in the recent days, prospects for the conflict settlement, the situation in the Ukrainian economy and possible mitigation of anti-Russian sanctions.

“We don’t hear each other. The Davos forum is a good possibility to try to hear each other in a narrower circle. Davos is a place where Russian representatives can both defend their positions and concurrently try to lend an ear to other arguments and, possibly, share some of them” Kudrin said.

After 11 years in Russia’s government, Kudrin stepped down as Russia’s Finance Minister in 2011 over disagreement with the policy of excessive financing of the armed forces. Ever since, he has engaged in expert activities. He is a regular attendee of the Davos forum, which annually draws world elite representatives to discuss global challenges. A government official no longer, Kudrin still enjoys high authority among Western politicians and businessmen.

Some of the Western sanctions imposed over the Ukrainian developments might be mitigated in case the settlement in eastern Ukraine is finally settled but it is premature to be sure of that now that the situation in Donbass has aggravated.

“Both parties have their hawks seeking to “wrestle” as much of territory from each other as possible,” he said.

The former finance minister admitted that interest to the Russian delegation at the Davos forum had been fading away in the recent years as the country was losing pace of economic reforms and attractiveness for investments. He did not rule out that foreign companies would wind up their businesses in Russia in the next one to two years.

“Russia has lost trust of global markets, which is attested by capital drain. Russia is facing a task of rebuilding trust of the global economy. And to do that, the country must have a more clear policy towards its strategy and interests in the world,” Kudrin said. “Now, Russia is sending too many signals that are not clear for the world.”

Russian officials and businessmen have been taking part in the Davos World Economic Forum since 1987. Vladimir Putin visited Davos in 2009, when he was Russia’s Prime Minister. In 2014, the Russian delegation to the forum was led by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Founded in 1971, the World Economic Forum is annually held in Switzerland’s Davos. Heads of state and top executives of the world’s leading corporations meet here to discuss topical political and economic problems. On the backdrop of geopolitical conflict and the economic crisis, this year’s forum will be dedicated to measures of rebuilding trust.