President OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Darkin, we have been working on preparations for the 2012 APEC Summit, but with a view not just to the summit itself, but also the impact it will have on people in Primorye Territory, in Vladivostok and other towns in the region. What I see here shows that this work is having a direct social effect. This is evident in numerous areas, from transport – developing the transport hub, for example, and establishing direct rail links between the municipal districts around Vladivostok and the airport – to solving problems that have plagued the region for years, such as improving Vladivostok’s sewerage systems and so on. This is the way things should be, because ultimately, the whole purpose of holding these kinds of events is to help resolve social issues too.
It is just as important to ensure that the positive impetus the APEC Summit brings not only makes Primorye Territory itself more attractive for investment, but gives a boost to the entire Far East region. We are going to have the whole world coming to visit, after all, and we are to present our best face and show that we can achieve investment goals, help investors, and give them good conditions for their operation. This will translate into new jobs, new investment projects, big and small – the size is not important. It will help to develop small and medium-sized businesses throughout our country, and here in Primorye Territory too.
What are your proposals in this regard, and what are your immediate plans?
Governor of Primorye Territory Sergei Darkin: Thank you, Mr President.
First, I want to say thank you for the huge financial resources that the Russian Government is putting into Primorye Territory. This comes to a colossal sum – 200 billion rubles [more than $7 billion] – and this money is being used now to develop Primorye Territory and the whole of the Far East.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: The total funding comes to 600 billion rubles.
Sergei DARKIN: Yes, 600 billion, that’s right. And this is only the beginning. The investment package that we have put together for Government guarantees (actually, funding for all of the projects is covered – in the budgets of either state corporations or private companies) comes to 2 trillion rubles in investment over a twenty-year period. Over the last 10 years, Primorye Territory’s gross regional product has increased 6-fold. Over the next 15 years – through to 2025 – our target is to achieve another six-fold rise in our gross regional product.
First of all, we will get gas this year, and we plan to build gas treatment plants together with Gazprom. Rosneft plans to build a petrochemicals plant with capacity of 10 million tons. Sollers is working actively in the region now. There are plans to build shipyards that will be the most advanced in our country.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: Shipyards should be worked on as a separate issue really, because this is the industry that has always been at the foundation of Vladivostok’s development. During the years when the city was a closed city, after all, it was here that vessels of all kinds were designed and produced. I think this is an industry that requires particular attention, and you should try to raise both state and private investment here.
Sergei DARKIN: There is a very good public-private partnership in place now. The APEC Summit has given a boost to developing not just Vladivostok, but the whole southern part of Primorye Territory. We now have a number of investment projects underway to develop a technopark and bring foreign investment into the light industry sectors. If I have the chance, I will inform you in more detail on these projects.
We have also invested large amounts of money in environmental projects. You saw some of what we have been doing today. This includes the solid household waste treatment facility, and our project to clean Peter the Great Bay within 3–5 years through building sewerage treatment facilities and so on. All of this will make the city a better place to live in.
As far as unemployment is concerned, the jobless rate has dropped sharply and stands at 2.3 percent now. This is also thanks to the APEC Summit preparations.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: Because of the new jobs created, and the new construction projects underway that demand workers.
Sergei DARKIN: Yes, the region needs 100,000 workers, but we have only 25,000 people unemployed. That is the imbalance we have today. Of course, this includes new production, new industries that we have never had before in Primorye Territory, and that we will develop now. This will have a very positive effect on bolstering Russia’s role in the Pacific region, and it will make our region a better place to live in. We hope that the number of Russians who come here to live and work, including at the Far Eastern Federal University, which you visited today, will grow. I think this is very important.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: Developing new engines of growth is indeed very important, and it will have tremendous positive effects for the region and its people. You mentioned the university. This is an education centre of a new type, and it has its own specific development programme. As I have already said, I think this university could develop into the jewel in the region’s education crown, attracting students not just from throughout the region, but from elsewhere in Russia, and from abroad too.
This university should become a genuinely strong research and education project. We have not spared the funding for it, and it is important now to attract the right people to work here, well-known academics from Russia and abroad, so as to make the university a prestigious place at which to study. Of course, you must always keep in mind too the seemingly obvious fact that this and all of the projects underway pursue the goal of making the Far East a modern and interesting place to live, a place where people will want to come for work and leisure. You must make sure therefore that all of the tasks set are carried out.