IMF/WB session preparations near completion

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Preparations for the annual session of the IMF and World Bank, which will be held in Prague in just a few weeks, are nearing completion. World Bank Vice President Mats Karlsson said on Thursday that the discussion on the IMF/WB annual meeting in Prague has recently turned from security measures to the topics on the meeting's agenda. More from Vladimir Tax:

Karlsson stressed at a press conference that although security had been discussed excessively in the beginning, it remains an important issue. He said that the preparations for the meeting, scheduled for September 26-28, were going on very well. Mr. Karlsson, who has been in Prague for three weeks, said that in his opinion the Czechs had done much to change the themes of the September discussion. He said he believed that Czech people would know that the annual meeting is an honour for them. He added it was natural that people were asking how the situation might develop during the meeting. The emphasis of Czech politicians on possible violence in demonstrations during the meeting, instead of highlighting the meeting's goal, has already been criticised by Jana Matesova, the World Bank's Czech representative.

The Czech government commissioner responsible for the meeting, Zdenek Hruby, recently said that information on the event spread by the Interior Ministry borders on scaremongering. The ministry has denied this. Mr. Karlsson said he hoped that the IMF and the World Bank's September session would run without violent protests, though up to 50,000 globalisation opponents are expected to arrive in Prague. He said representatives of non-governmental organisations would be invited to attend the meeting, and IMF and World Bank representatives would take part in some events staged by non-government organisations.

Prague will be the world's most important city during the session and the debate will be very important, so that globalisation benefits everyone in the world, Karlsson said.

Globalisation opponents have announced some 180 protest events during the IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague. The first massive demonstrations are to be held on September 23. Parliamentary Speaker Vaclav Klaus said he met with Karlsson on Thursday and discussed the World Bank and the IMF's attempt to "reflect the changing situation", which should also be a topic for September's meeting in Prague. Mr. Klaus discussed Prague's preparations for the IMF/World Bank session with IMF executive director Horst Koehler in July.

It is expected that some 18,000 official guests, including 182 central bank governors and more than 200 ministers and deputy ministers from 182 countries will be in Prague for the session.