Meeting participants discussed Russia's bid to host the 2020 World EXPO in Yekaterinburg and the results of the BIE delegation's inspection visit to the city.
Yekaterinburg is one of five cities bidding to host the 2020 EXPO. The other candidates are Sao Paulo (Brazil), Dubai (UAE), Ayutthaya (Thailand), and Izmir (Turkey). The winning bid will be decided in 2013.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon Mr Secretary General, friends and colleagues,
I am very pleased to see you and to pass on greetings from South Africa. Late last night I met with the leaders of the entire African continent. Then I immediately travelled to our meeting with you.
I would like to observe at the beginning of our discussion that Russia has participated in the World EXPO movement ever since the first world industrial exhibition in, I think, 1851 in London. And in 1900 Russia’s pavilion received a medal.
In general, during all these years and decades, Russia has actively participated in the movement, often received various diplomas, prizes and a range of nominations, but has never yet hosted the EXPO itself.
This time we are offering one of our industrial centres: the city of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, where you've just been.
Yekaterinburg is one of our traditional industrial centres, located almost exactly in Russia’s centre, and thus reflecting both the country’s European and Asian parts. I think that it will be a convenient destination for our colleagues and participants traveling from Europe and from other parts of the world, including Asia.
In my opinion we have chosen a very good location [for the exhibition]. You know better, but I think it is a very good place indeed. I cannot give it a professional assessment; certainly you can do this better than I. The area intended for constructing EXPO facilities is covering 500 hectares between the airport and the city itself.
In general, in my opinion, it is a convenient place and absolutely vacant. Construction has already begun. Moreover, some pavilions already exist as you saw for yourselves. Various exhibition events have already been held in these venues.
The city and the region are actively developing. But if you and the other participants in this process decide that the EXPO will take place in Yekaterinburg, of course we will help the city develop, and develop its infrastructure in particular. Of course, in the first instance this refers to improving roads, further expanding the airport, access ways, and the entire area.
We will certainly support entrepreneurs so that Russian business can participate in developing other necessary components. In particular, I am referring to the construction of hotels if those that exist are insufficient, though the city is quite large and progressing efficiently.
We have created a special Organising Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mr [Arkady] Dvorkovich. And of course, if the decision regarding Yekaterinburg is favourable, we will follow all your advice and suggestions. Russia’s Government will organise preparations in accordance with your requirements.
President of the Bie Executive Committee Steen Christensen (retranslated): Mr President, thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us. It is a great honour and a privilege.
We do not represent individual countries, but rather the sum total of all 162 countries members of the BIE. And our task is to assess whether or not Yekaterinburg meets our requirements for a host city for EXPO 2020. Over the past few days we have had meetings in both Yekaterinburg and Sochi. They were a series of technical meetings, which were both well prepared and well organised.
There are two crucial aspects of our assessment. First, the level of domestic political and financial support for hosting the EXPO. And what you just said at this meeting confirms various written assurances that have already been deposited with the BIE secretariat.
Another point of interest for us concerns the global, international prospects that result from having Yekaterinburg host EXPO 2020. And we will be grateful to you and your colleagues for your views on precisely this issue.