President Vladimir Putin: In conclusion, the issues we have examined today really must be addressed urgently. We have already said this on many occasions but we have done little over recent years.
We have heard today from the governors, from the heads of ministries and agencies directly involved in this sector, but I want to stress that what we do in this sector will have a direct impact on economic development in all regions of the country.
On the agenda today is sea transport infrastructure development, and it is logical that we should have discussed precisely this subject today given that we have only just completed drawing up the main principles for the shipbuilding sector’s activity and development, and made the decision to establish a major Russian shipbuilding company. It is only logical then that we should have decided to examine sea transport infrastructure development in general today, looking at the port infrastructure too.
It is obvious that these are complex and difficult issues. The old system of operation has collapsed and the state has neglected these problems. Financing for the ship on board which we are holding this meeting stopped in 1993 and was not resumed until 2003, which effectively meant that we were starting to lose our presence in the Arctic.
I agree with the proposals put forward by some of our colleagues. We do indeed need a body to coordinate the work in this sector, and this is why it could be well worth considering the creation of a National Arctic Council presided over by the Prime Minister, a council that would have the powers to develop policy in this area to strengthen Russia’s interests in this part of the world and develop our business activity. This council would draft policy which would then be approved by Presidential Decree at the minimum, and perhaps by an according law. I am sure that Artur Nikolayevich [Chilingarov] would be able to ensure the necessary support in the State Duma.
We have outlined a whole series of concrete measures in this sector, measures that should be adopted as soon as possible. I want to note that a country with as big a territory as ours, and with outlets to the world’s oceans at various locations on our territory, cannot afford not to have a carefully developed policy in this area.
We have already spoken about the fact that some of our seas and basins are complex in terms of developing sea transport. In some regions – in the Far East and here in the North – conditions are close to ideal. We need to be clearly aware of our competitive advantages and make good use of them, concentrating our financial and administrative efforts precisely on their development. I very much hope that the Marine Collegium, which will be responsible for coordinating the development of sea transport, will work effectively in this direction.
Of course, we also need to pay particular attention to developing the Far East region. I do not share the fears that we will create a state shipping company with only the state to then keep it running. I simply do not think this is possible. If you look closer at the instructions in this regard, you will see that the project involves creating a company with state participation – but the nature of this participation has not yet been decided, and we will, of course, need to reflect on this matter.
We will also need to make amendments to the federal targeted programme on modernising Russia’s transport system in accordance with the decisions taken today, and we will need to start reflecting on and drawing up a new federal targeted programme for developing the country’s transport system over the period 2010–2015, extending it to perhaps even 2020 and beyond. This is a big joint project and will require serious attention from the state and the regions, and a high degree of coordination between the state agencies and the private companies – ship-owners and transport companies.
I hope that we will succeed in organising this work as effectively and competently as possible.
Thank you for your attention.