President Vladimir Putin: Hello dear colleagues! Good morning!
You know that at the Security Council session in December 2006 we made the decision to promote the comprehensive development of the Far East Region. I will add that today I signed a decree to establish the governmental commission, headed by the Prime Minister and designed to coordinate activities to promote the social and economic development of the Far East, that we agreed on in the Security Council.
We made quite a few decisions about the Far East but all the same I cannot say that I am satisfied with how we are operating and how effectively we are operating. So, it will not harm to concentrate additional administrative resources. And generally speaking, as I already said at the Security Council, I think that in the future it would be good to think – even though the idea is not very popular – to think about having some kind of competent structure in the government that would function on a permanent basis and constantly deal with the problems of the Far East and eastern Siberia.
The question at hand is how to more effectively integrate this huge territory into both Russia’s economy and the world market, and to develop it by creating a favourable business environment and worthy living and working conditions.
It is important to stimulate investment projects. First and foremost, in sectors such as energy, the extracting and processing industries, and biological resources. The key to resolving many of the region’s economic problems lies in precisely these areas. And I would ask Sergei Mikhailovich [Darkin] to comment on these problems in more detail today.
We must develop in the sense of realising Russia’s transport potential. It is no accident that we met here, in Vladivostok, today. As you know, I was just in India and we talked quite a lot with our Indian partners about Russian-Indian cooperation as a whole and including with the eastern Russian regions, with the Far East. Our Indian partners are interested in a whole range of major projects. We will talk about this in more detail. It is obvious that the range of measures should include those that facilitate new investments, contracts, and act as a stimulus for the development of strategically important regions. And this implies increasing both the region’s and the country’s competitiveness, and expanding contacts with the countries of the Asian Pacific region. These contacts will help the Far East participate more actively in regional integration processes, bilateral ties and cross-border cooperation.
In a word, we have a good chance to turn the Russian Far East into not only one of the most prosperous Russian regions but to ensure general economic growth through the region’s development.
You know that at the APEC summit in November last year in Hanoi we made our application to hold the presidency in this authoritative, regional, international organisation in 2012. I will say at once that we made the decision not to hold this event in the Russian capital – according to APEC rules the summit can be held either in the capital or in an eastern region, namely in the Far East – and, according to all calculations, the most advantageous place for carrying out this event is precisely Vladivostok.
As a whole, Russia’s intentions received the support of our APEC partners. The formal decision has not yet been made but this is also for formal reasons – according to the present rules as long as there is no candidate for the presidency in 2011 then it is impossible to jump a year and decide who will be the host in 2012. In any case, I would like to emphasise that, similar to our application to host the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, and independently of whether APEC will be held here or not, there are certain issues that we must address if we want to develop the Far East, Vladivostok and the Primorye Region. We need to invest money, invest financial resources, and serious ones. Therefore the money invested will not be wasted in any case. The issue is only where to invest, how to invest, and what we are later going to get out of these investments – what the government will receive and what the people living here will receive.
We have gathered to discuss the practical aspects of holding this forum in Russia. Our country is continually strengthening its position in the Asian Pacific region, one that is strategically important for us. We actively participate in the integration processes taking place here and fruitfully cooperate with the countries of the Asian Pacific region both on a bilateral and multilateral level. And to prepare this forum we will make one more important step to promote our partnership in the eastern direction. Major capital and high-tech producers are concentrated in the Asian Pacific region. And the Asian Pacific region is certainly a gigantic market that is interested in cooperating with us and is open to Russia.
We are not going to exaggerate, but the APEC summit can act as an important factor in developing Vladivostok, the Primorye Region and the whole of the Russian Far East. For that reason preparatory measures should be included in our strategy and we should consider the decisions taken in December 2006 in the Security Council. It is planned that more than one hundred events with the participation of influential politicians, entrepreneurs, financial managers and public figures will take place during the year of Russia’s APEC presidency. Of course this will draw attention to the region as a whole and to the Primorye Region in particular. We should carry out this important, serious event in an honourable way. We are especially able to do this in light of our experience of hosting the G8 in St Petersburg, which showed that we possess such capacities. And we already have experience.
The forthcoming large-scale work will require serious organisational and financial efforts. In comparison, one can see that today the region’s entire budget amounts to 32 billion and, of those, eight billion are from the federal government. About 100 billion rubles are required to prepare for the APEC summit. When considered in terms of the size of the whole region this represents decent money and for Vladivostok, very decent. Much will depend on the results of the activities of the administration of the Primorye region, the government cabinet and a large number of ministries and departments. All this will affect the effectiveness of our activities.
I would now ask the representative of the Economic Development and Trade Minister – the deputy minister – to say a few words, and then Sergei Borisovich [Ivanov] and Sergei Mikhailovich [Darkin].