Vladimir Putin: From the beginning of the 1990s we said that St Petersburg, the Leningrad Region and all of north western Russia must use its competitive advantage, its natural advantages, including those linked with its geographical position.
From the beginning of the 1990s we have been talking about almost all the projects whose practical implementation we are finally able to discuss today. At the time, we could have only dreamt of this. Today we can say that we have accomplished large scale undertakings, a huge amount of work to develop the transport infrastructure in north western Russia.
It was three years ago that we opened the Primorskii port, and now it is the coal terminal here, in Ust-Luga, starting it s operations right away.
The Ust-Luga port is extremely important for us. It is one of Russia's major infrastructure projects over the past few decades. This year we expect around five, four and a half, million tonnes of trade. It is important to implement everything we have planned and we must absolutely accomplish this. I am referring to both general cargo and building a container terminal, something that is absolutely necessary. In practice, this work has already begun.
It is necessary to construct a ferry that will connect St Petersburg to Kaliningrad and German ports. We must build a number of other terminals – for grain, and for transporting oil and oil products.
And if we do all of this, then by next year we can ship ten million tonnes of cargo and by 2010 somewhere between 32 and 35 million tonnes. This is a serious task, a serious infrastructural project on a European scale.
We are developing our infrastructure. But let me point out that today approximately a third of the freight leaves from the ports of our competitors, our neighbours in the Baltic states and in Finland. We are not going to force cargo ships to come to Russia. But to attract cargo ships we must aspire, right from the outset, for the same result we achieved when working on the coal terminal.
This concerns high-tech and all technical equipment for infrastructure on the Baltic. This concerns the development of transport infrastructure in related projects linked with building highways and railways. This is, of course, linked with increasing the level of and improving administration. It is not possible to attract cargo ships here without this. And we are going to do exactly that. We are not going to create administrative obligations for carriers. Rather, we are going to create better working conditions, a more competitive environment. We are capable of doing this and we shall do it.
And there is yet another issue which I would like to draw to your attention. Today this theme has already cropped up during our discussion. But I would still like to talk about it separately. It is the environment. I have been told that between eight and ten percent of the financial resources allocated for this project are devoted to resolving environmental issues. We must continue to do the same in the future. I think that the Ust-Luga project is an excellent and obvious example of effective cooperation between the state and the private sector. I draw business representatives' attention to the fact that, in many ways, the state has met the wishes of our business community. In many ways. For this reason I consider it correct to address both the federal and regional agencies, and the representatives of the Russian business community.
It is necessary to strictly adhere to the budget, allocate financial resources in due time and to work in a collegial way, just as we have worked up until now. I would also like to address colleagues from the federal and regional agencies. Certainly, we must work according to the letter of the law, according to rules and according to norms. But we both know that the idea of working according to the rules can become a form of trouble and obstruction. And I ask that you keep this in mind, that you show flexibility in accomplishing major, important projects that our country needs. Of course, that you show flexibility within the limits of current legislation. But that you do not get hung up on trifles, or squeeze an extra one and a half, two million out of business which, in the end, will give nothing to the region nor to the country. On the contrary, I ask that you help business to develop here and create the necessary conditions for its development in due time, including with respect to the territory. Implementing these projects is advantageous for us all. Both the regions and the country. I would like to thank those who had a role in allowing the project to achieve the result it has today. And I would also like to wish you success.