Delivering a speech at the 1st Caspian Economic Forum, Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev said that the economic and environmental issues that are being discussed are inseparable from the threats that all countries face in one way or another. These include terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, uncontrolled migration, and many other threats.
– Hotbeds of tension can be found in the direct vicinity of the Caspian Sea region. It is for this reason that we have to be aware of the responsibility that rests with Caspian states. The Caspian Sea region has always been at the crossroads of geopolitical and economic interests of a number of major powers, political forces and businesses, as well as various ethnic groups and religions. It has recently emerged as one of the focal points in global politics, for obvious reasons.
Primarily, this status is due to the region’s natural resources. Together with the Persian Gulf countries, the Caspian Sea region forms the so-called energy ellipse that accounts for about 70 percent of global oil reserves and 40 percent of natural gas reserves.
This is a major geostrategic advantage for Caspian states, and a key area of cooperation. However, in today’s world economics cannot be reduced to oil and gas extraction. Digital technology, clean energy and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as free movement of goods and services are the factors that make countries strong and competitive. As countries of the Caspian Sea region, we must not stand aside from these trends.
The economic profile of our countries should not be reduced to raw materials and has to be much broader. What the Caspian Sea region needs in the 21st century are streamlined transport infrastructure, high-technology and safe manufacturing, incentives to attract investors and unrivalled tourism products. These are the sectors we must priorities in the years to come.
– I can tell you right away that Russia is ready to move in this direction, Medvedev said, providing more details in each of directions.
As to transport infrastructure. The Caspian region is indeed the crossroads of world communications. For ages, the most important trade routes that connect the North and South, East and West were passed through these areas. Nowadays, reliable and optimal transcontinental routes are of exclusive importance for international trade and for creation of large regional markets.
Dmitry Medvedev emphasized that over the past few years, much has been done to develop the transport-and-logistic potential of the region. Sections of international transport corridors are beginning to work stage by stage; port facilities are developing, work on a draft five-sided Agreement on cooperation in the field of maritime transport is underway. It is aimed to create unified and competitive transit conditions for the Caspian Sea.
– Transit transportation today is a lot of money, and competitions are getting more and more fierce. To attract the maximum volume of transit cargo to trans-Caspian routes, it is necessary to jointly integrate national port capacities into Eurasian transport and logic chains, coordinate tariff policy more tightly, develop integrated logistics centers, and quickly move closer to international standards for passenger and freight transportation,” the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation said.
According to Medvedev, another area of cooperation is the development of non-resource-based sectors, which should become new growth points in the Caspian region. “The exhibition of innovative technology of Caspian Sea countries shows that we have such capabilities,” he added.
Medvedev could not fail to mention ecology and tourism issues.
– Shipyards in Astrakhan have recently built a new-generation cruise ship, the Pyotr Velikiy, and are now fine-tuning it. It is expected to make its maiden voyage next year. It can sail around the Caspian Sea, entering ports in all five Caspian states, or sail on a cruise of the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Many new resorts, recreational areas and treatment facilities are popping up in coastal areas as tourism clusters. Turkmenistan has achieved major progress on this front in the Avaza tourism zone. I visited this place 10 years ago, and I would like to congratulate my friends in Turkmenistan on their marvellous achievements in developing this tourism cluster. This is truly impressive!”
As conclusion of his speech, Dmitriy Medvedev said:
– As the ancient saying goes, mountains protect and divide, while seas unite. This is especially true for the Caspian Sea that our countries share. It truly unites Europe and Asia, the five Caspian states and their partners. And, of course, it unites people who live around the Caspian Sea.