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#4 - JRL 2008-175 - JRL Home
September 25, 2008
[Medvedev] Closing Address at the Meeting on the Social and Economic Development of the Kamchatka Region

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Let's look at the results of our joint work of the past three days in the Far East especially in Kamchatka but also with regards to the other regions. Of course, we must reflect on what has been said and everything we saw here each in their own field. The instructions will, as we agreed, be given in light of what we discussed today.

I would like us to finally settle the issues surrounding a special economic zone, budgetary resources for legal entities, endowments, the stability of budgets, eligibility for subsidies, and other major cultural and educational projects that we discussed here today. This is all important and I am confident that we can go over everything in a short time.

As to general issues related to the tax regime, I think that in general everyone here must reassess the situation once again and, in all likelihood, what Elvira Sakhipzadovna [Nabiullina, Minister of Economic Development] said with regards to the normal regime and its effectiveness represents quite a convincing argument.

We nevertheless need to assess the overall situation. If we all come to the same conclusion then we need to take obvious decisions based on this conclusion. Recently we have talked a lot about the fact that the situation in the Far East is unique, and that we should not forget about this. But for some reason when it comes to taking specific decisions, we still tend to adopt generalised approaches, though I could cite some extreme instances in which money was given to buy fuel oil, or something else these are simply extraordinary measures. But while taking into account the overall situation we must develop specific approaches to concrete issues.

I understand the caution with which one establishes certain existing kinds of special regimes, but we should not forget that we have an absolutely unique country. If we use special regimes in Russias western regions, particularly in the Kaliningrad region, there is all the more reason to do so here because the situation is dire and we do not have to hide that. This definitely is a serious situation.

In this regard I would like to say one more thing that you are probably all aware of, but that we have nevertheless grown accustomed to We just had a spontaneous discussion about decisions concerning airports in the Koryak region, in Elizovo. I recalled how it was two years ago when I flew on a plane with the Minister of Transport and other distinguished colleagues, and discussed the fact that we needed to make a decision on this matter. Two years ago we flew from Moscow and made the difficult journey to Koryak district. Look at the effectiveness of our work: we have been making decision for two years now! Not building anything! Not building a new airport in two years. Its just appalling! A simple management decision. Who should be removed, who should do what? I would just like everyone here to be aware of this because, ultimately, everyone sitting here can make decisions that affect the entire country.

It seems like we all speak absolutely correctly and that we make adequate decisions in our own fields, but as soon as we have to coordinate things then everything gets stuck. Nothing works.

Igor Ivanovich [Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister ], I hope that you, as chairman of the Commission [on the Social and Economic Development of the Far East] will take this into your own hands because it is very bad when all directives, including operational issues, are reported to the President of the country. This means that we have no management system and that we simply do not know how to work. We cannot do anything if we keep on taking decisions in this way.

And one more question, which is of course linked to the Far East and Kamchatka. We must find a harmonious combination between the development of military elements and investment resources. In this sense security issues must be balanced with existing projects. We must step up our presence that we so incautiously started to renounce in the 1990s. There can be no other scenario. But this should certainly not be done at the expense of developing investments or recreational potential, so I'd like us to also take decisions on these related issues as well.

As we conclude our work, which I hope will receive tangible results in Moscow, I think that I am expressing a general opinion concerning what we saw here, in Magadan and to a lesser extent, of course, in Chukotka. It is a very strange sensation: on the one hand, beauty, and on the other hand, squalor. This is a very striking contrast: unique natural potential on the one hand and a depressing, harsh call it what you will extremely weak economic system on the other. And this should encourage us in our everyday work.

In general things are not easy, but we must understand one perfectly obvious fact and, incidentally, one that you feel more acutely when you are actually in the Far East. If we do not intensify our work then it is possible that we could lose everything. There is no once and for all in these situations. Even things that are unshakeable from the point of view of a given human being sometimes end in a very dramatic way. I am not hinting at anything, although the collapse of the Soviet Union was the most evocative example in that regard. It is because of this that in our everyday work we just have to concentrate on what is happening here. If we fail to do so, the consequences could be irreversible and, unfortunately, happen quite quickly.

Perhaps this is not an optimistic conclusion to our work. But I would simply like to see our work result in a plan of action for the Far East for each of us here. All this is in our hands. And it is a feasible goal. You only need to act more quickly, to take judicious and reasonable management decisions, and not hide behind any of our other problems. Otherwise later on we will simply be ashamed of lost opportunities.

Thank you all for your work. I hope that it will continue in specific fields.