Vladivostok Novosti Company
January 31, 2007

Putin proposes Russky Island venue for APEC-2012

The Vladivostok News

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Russky Island, located several kilometers off the Pacific port of Vladivostok an ideal place for Russia to host the 2012 APEC and promised to allot a $3.8 billion federal investment to turn the territory into a gorgeous sea resort.

Putin’s announcement about Russky Island being the best selection for the summit of the 21 country-members of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation bloc came a few days after Putin paid a surprise visit to Vladivostok on his way back to Moscow from India.

Putin, accompanied by transport, military and foreign ministers, held an extended meeting in Vladivostok on Saturday questioning Primorye Governor Sergei Darkin on all of the region’s issues.

Being a vast territory rich in natural resources, the Russian Far East still lags behind many western regions due to poor infrastructure, high living costs, shrinking population and high crime rates. Last December Putin urged the creation of a special commission headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to jumpstart development in the Russian Far East.

“We have made many decisions concerning the Far East but I can not say that I am satisfied with their fruition and effectiveness,” Putin noted when opening the meeting in Vladivostok. “We need to boost investment projects in energy, mining and prospecting industries as well as in the effective use of biological resources to tackle many of the economic problems of the Russian Far East,” Putin stressed.

Officials from the Ministry of Economic Development estimated that 100 billions rubles ($3.8 billion) is needed to considerably improve the current conditions. Putin mentioned that the federal budgets of 2008 and the following years will include this investment for the country’s remotest district.

”Whether or not the APEC summit will be held in Vladivostok, we need to invest much money and resources if we want to develop the Far East,” Putin stressed.

The building of hotels, dining and entertainment facilities, as well as an aquarium and a sea research institute, is expected to turn the 97.6 square kilometer Russky Island into a perspective recreation area. Renovation of Vladivostok airport and construction of new roads and bridges will also join the prime projects for upgrading the infrastructure.

At the business summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, last November Russia proposed hosting the APEC summit of 2012. “Our proposal was supported by our APEC partners. The formal decision has not been made yet due to simple formalities,” Putin said in Vladivostok. According to APEC rules, the committee can not determine the country-host for 2012 until the host for 2011 has been defined.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the decision about Russia’s hosting the APEC meetings in 2012 can be reached in Australia this September. “Russia is one of few APEC countries which have never hosted any APEC events,” Lavrov said.

The countries holding the rotating presidency in the organization this decade have already been determined. Last year's host, Vietnam, is to be succeeded by Australia, Peru, Singapore and Japan. APEC is the world's largest international trade and economic organization, with its member countries' overall population exceeding 2.5 billion people and with a combined GDP of $19 trillion. Major regional nations include Russia, Australia, Canada, China, the US, Japan, and South Korea.

The annual budget of Primorye stands at 32 billion rubles ($1.2 billion). With a streaming investment of 100 billion rubles in the years to come Vladivostok and Russky Island undoubtedly can turn into prosperous territories.

Though, some disturbing questions still remain such as whether it is possible to build a world class resort in a five-year period starting with ground zero? This reminds me of the Soviet-era five-year plans which were pompously proclaimed and rarely fulfilled.

Will the business environment improve with the upgrade of roads and the airport if Vladivostok does not manage to cut down its high crime rate and rising number of racial hate-related attacks? What can Vladivostok do with its high crime rate if many empowered officials still have connections with organized crime and some even have previous police records? What will Vladivostok do about its lack of water purification facilities which has resulted in undrinkable tap water and polluted sea water which may spoil any resort water-related activities?

Receiving investment is a good start but wise regional and city management is urgently needed to make the whole story a success.
Other materials of this Issue:
Primorye tourism spreads wings
Russia downloads anti-piracy efforts
Murders on rise in Vladivostok
3 orphaned bear cubs enjoy home life
Far Eastern leopards to be tracked
Love the snow, hate the ice
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