The speeches made by officials attending the IMF–World Bank Annual Meetings are published in this volume, along with the press communiqués issued by the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee at the conclusion of the meetings.
Let me welcome all of you to the Czech Republic and to Prague. My welcome extends to the official participants in the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, to all business people, bankers, economists, political scientists, environmentalists, thinkers, journalists, and, indeed, to all people of good will who have come here because this is an occasion to discuss and possibly also to help determine our common future. This country and its capital city are greatly honored to be the venue of this major assembly, which brings together thousands of people from all countries and continents—including persons wielding a far-reaching influence—in the very year that the commonly used chronology views as a turn of ages. For us it means an honor, a joy, as well as a great challenge, and a major commitment. I trust that Prague—hosting such a gathering of a truly global significance for the first time in more than a thousand years of its history—will offer a good environment for the deliberations and will be reflected favorably both in the memory of its participants and in the history of global cooperation. Surely this city possesses certain historical prerequisites. Over the course of centuries—among other things because of its geographical position in the center of Europe—it has witnessed not only confrontations and conflicts but also creative encounters, mutual respect, reciprocal influence, and cooperation among various cultures; various peoples and ethnic groups; and various spiritual currents and social movements. This pluralism has helped to shape its visage. It would be good if, after decades of oppression, of life without freedom, of bent backs, and of imposed isolation, we succeeded in rediscovering this ancient tradition and offered this city as a congenial setting for the world’s open debate about itself.
Meetings of the Joint Development Committee were held jointly with the Board of Governors of the Bank. The sessions of the Annual Meetings were held jointly with the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group.
President Václav Havel, my fellow governors, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege to welcome you to the 2000 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. On behalf of the Boards of Governors, I would like to thank the government and people of the Czech Republic, and in particular, the people of Prague for their generous hospitality in this beautiful and historic city.
Thank you for joining us at these Annual Meetings. I want to express my particular thanks to our Chairman, Zoran Stavreski, and, once again, to Agustín Carstens for his leadership of the Development Committee and his partnership as a friend. I cannot imagine a better Chair to work with during my first year.