President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We are attending a pleasant and memorable event. This large infrastructure project has been completed and will have a major effect on the north western regions and the country as a whole. It will enhance the competitiveness of the regions across which the motorway runs, create new tourism opportunities and increase these regions’ investment appeal.
When I saw our French colleague [Yves-Thibault de Silguy, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Vinci Group] here, I recalled that he took part in the signing of a memorandum in Paris in 2006, which President Chirac and I attended. It is gratifying that we not only plan but also implement such large-scale projects. This means that we achieve good results when we stay focused and work hard.
I would like to point out that this project is a positive example of public-private partnership. It has been implemented through a combination of state and private efforts and with a contribution from French and Turkish construction firms. All of them worked as a close-knit team focused on results. And we have achieved this.
I would like to ask the heads of the regions across which the motorway runs to express their opinions and say a few words about their plans. I want you to know, however, that your job is far from over, and that possibly it has just started, and here is why. The motorway should be made more driver-friendly, which is largely, no, not largely but entirely the job of the regions. The construction workers have done their job – they have built the motorway and now it should be made more driver-friendly, which is the direct responsibility of the regional authorities. The motorway must have service areas, petrol stations, restaurants and cafes, communications, the internet, and many other things. And everything must be up-to-date, just as the motorway itself.
It is clear that we have not had anything like this in the history of Russian road construction before. But, as the construction workers said, we have it now. We will proceed from the notion that this is a first and a positive experience. There are plans for constructing such motorways in other directions as well, for example towards Vladimir and further still. I believe that the minister, who will be reporting now, will tell us about this.
I would like to congratulate all of you once again on this achievement. First of all, we should thank our partners, those who did an excellent job and who completed the project. I am referring to the workers and engineers, all who had a hand in this and gave their heart, as well as their skill and professionalism to this project.
Congratulations to all of you!
Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank you for your efforts and their results. I ask the Ministry and the regions’ heads to nominate people for government awards for the results of this work.
Thank you very much.
We will continue implementing our plans, taking into account, among other things, the suggestions put forth during our meeting.