The economies of emerging market Russia and of the ailing European Union took centre stage Wednesday as government leaders and executives from major companies started their annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss town of Davos.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on foreign investors to do more business in his country, towards achieving his target of 5 per cent economic growth per year.
But he also acknowledged that reforms were needed inside Russia.
Responding to experts' views that the country's middle class is seeking greater accountability and transparency in politics, Medvedev said: "We need to engage in systematic and active dialogue with civil society."
The premier was one of around 50 heads of government and 2,500 leaders who gathered in the resort in the Swiss Alps.
Later on Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde were set to address the conference, with talks expected to touch on the debt and economic woes of the European Union.
Their talks were scheduled on the same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron promised in London to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership by 2017, while arguing for staying in the bloc despite rising euroscepticism in the country.
Meanwhile, Axel Weber, head of major Swiss bank UBS warned that banking rules drawn up in the wake of the global crisis would make it harder for lenders to act as long-term investors in emerging markets.
"Who will fund investments in infrastructure and emerging markets?," he asked. "Who's gonna do it?"
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