A presentation of Crimea’s economic potential and the opportunities of the fourth Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) was held at Daun-Kinsky Palace in the Austrian capital.
The event was attended by representatives of 11 countries, including Austrian businessmen, politicians, and public figures, MPs from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and France, members of the European Parliament as well as Russian and other international experts.
Andrey Nazarov: “There are 3,000 companies with foreign capital working in Crimea”
More than 70 politicians, representatives of the business community, public figures, and experts took part in the event. In a video address, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov invited the participants at the Vienna meeting to visit Crimea and to learn firsthand about the political and economic situation on the peninsula, the economic development of the region, and related business opportunities.
YIEF Foundation Chairman of the Board and Co-Chairman of the YIEF Organizing Committee Andrey Nazarov spoke in detail about Crimea’s potential and the programme at the upcoming forum. He devoted special attention to the opportunities for business development in circumvention of sanctions and the most attractive areas for investment and prospects on the peninsula.
“Crimea is very similar to Monaco”, Nazarov said. “The only major difference is that Crimea is ten thousand times bigger. Once upon a time a group of people believed in Monaco, and they became very successful. It’s the same in Crimea, except the people who believe in it will become ten thousand times more successful, accordingly”.
Nazarov noted that nearly six million tourists visited Crimea in 2017. “There is no doubt that this figure will increase each year and reach several tens of millions annually”, he added.
In addition to tourism, Crimea has numerous attractive economic sectors for investment with great potential for development: construction, medicine, agriculture, winemaking, and infrastructure projects. There are virtually no areas in which businessmen would be unable to apply their efforts today, Nazarov said. “Even though anti-Russian sanctions are in force today, there are already 3,000 companies with foreign capital in Crimea”, he said. Nazarov also noted that Sergey Aksyonov devotes special attention to personal communication with foreign participants at the Yalta International Economic Forum each year.
“Cooperation instead of confrontation”
The guests of the presentation were greeted by Austrian and German politicians. Former Governor of Carinthia Gerhard Dörfler expressed hope that the 2018 Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) would become a bridge between Russia and Europe.
“I myself was born on federal land, which, like Crimea, decided in 1920 whether or not to remain a part of Austria. So we view this situation through our own history”, he said. “In 2011, we concluded our last peace treaty and we wish the same to Crimea”.
In addition, Mr Dörfler spoke about his vision for the development of relations between Russia and Austria. “I would call 2018 a special year – an agreement was signed on the construction of a railway between Moscow and Vienna, so I will be glad if this is the start of our joint path. Another anniversary being marked this year is 50 years of cooperation in the gas and energy sector, and I am glad that Vladimir Putin will come to celebrate this event. Sanctions should be left in the past and we need to look towards the future. I wish you success in preparing for the forum. I hope that the YIEF will serve as a bridge between Russia and Europe”.
German Bundestag MP Frank Magniz called for the establishment of cultural and economic ties between the countries in his greeting. “If one were to choose a motto, it should sound like ‘cooperation instead of confrontation’”, he said. “If ties in culture and art are functioning well, then the next step should be to build economic ties. The sanctions are causing harm to Russia, Germany, and the entire European Union. I hope that both today’s event and the YIEF will help to move from confrontation to cooperation”.
At the end of his speech, the German MP added: “Europe faces the need to solve global problems, and they cannot be resolved without Russia”.
Filip Dewinter, a MP in the Chamber of Representatives of Belgium and the author of a resolution on the need to abolish anti-Russian sanctions, noted that the sanctions have already proven to be inconsistent. “The YIEF could be a stimulus for our future development. I believe that such programmes should be universal in the EU. As a representative of Belgium, I am calling for an end to sanctions against Russia”, Dewinter said. “They are illegal and run contrary to international law. Moreover, they are unproductive for Russia and the European Union. Most importantly, we must respect the opinion of Crimea, the aspirations of the region’s inhabitants, and results of their expression of will”.
The report on the need to abolish anti-Russian sanctions was presented by European Parliament member from the Czech Republic Jaromir Kohlicek. “The sanctions pose an obstacle to the creation of a common economic zone from Vladivostok to Lisbon, which would benefit both Russia and Europe. That is to say, the sanctions are directed not only against Russia but against all of us”, he said. “We Czechs feel that all these sanctions are a big misunderstanding and nonsense. This is important to know: the sanctions have a negative impact on all EU countries. We need to develop new approaches and ideas”.
European Parliament member from France Aymeric Chauprade in his welcome address to the event participants stressed that he had been in Simferopol on the day of the historic referendum in 2014 during which the decision was made to reunite with Russia. “I am a historian and conduct research in the field of geopolitics, and after studying history for a long time, I am convinced that Crimea is Russian. If the citizens of Germany who were separated after World War II had the opportunity to unite in 1990, why should the population of Russia and Crimea be denied their right to reunite?” Chauprade asked.
He also described NATO expansion and the desire to draw Ukraine into this military bloc as tragic errors. “I have always said, and this is consistent with the historical position of France, that Russia must be respected and its interests must be taken into account. Ukraine should unite Russia with Europe and not be a problem that divides us”, he said.
Chauprade stressed that in the European Parliament he champions “a position of wisdom that is consistent with Europe’s historical experience”. “I advocate for the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions that are unfair and threaten peace and tranquillity in Europe”, the MP said. “It is advantageous for France and Europe to build a unified security system with Russia in the future. This system should not be directed against the United States – I have nothing against this great country. The goal of creating such a system is to convince the U.S. and other NATO members that the European Union should have the opportunity to become an independent geopolitical force at the international level and to be Russia’s partner in politics as well as the defence and energy spheres”.
One of the key events of the presentation was the formation of a delegation to visit Crimea in April this year. The YIEF Organizing Committee previously granted the Austrian and German delegations the status of honoured guests at the YIEF 2018, which will be held on 19–21 April.
Rustam Muratov, a member of the YIEF Foundation’s Board, vice president of the All Russia Public Organization Business Russia, and chairman of the board of the Crimeacongress Foundation, informed the participants about the main topics of the YIEF 2018: “Each year, the architecture of the YIEF is designed to meet the needs of its participants and the most relevant international agenda. This year, special attention is being paid to the digitalization of the economy, cyber security, combating fake news, and creating effective instruments for international cooperation”. Director of the Crimeacongress Foundation Alexey Vorobyev noted that the presentation of Crimea and the YIEF in Vienna is a component of extensive systematic work to position Crimea on the international arena.
The guests of the event also visited a photo exhibition dedicated to the largest infrastructure development projects being implemented in Crimea and the Yalta International Economic Forum.
During a gala dinner, Austrian and Belgian businessmen discussed joint investment projects in such areas as construction, winemaking, tourism, etc. An interesting cultural programme was presented for the guests, including the Russian folklore ensemble Kalinka and a philharmonic orchestra.
A month earlier, on 24 January, the YIEF was presented at the main European Parliament building in Brussels. It showed video messages from Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov and Co-Chairman of the YIEF Organizing Committee Andrey Nazarov, who called on European politicians to visit the region.
The YIEF organizers expect a record number of foreign visitors in 2018. More than 2,200 people took part in YIEF 2017, including more than 200 international participants from 46 countries. This time the peninsula expects more than 3,000 people, including more than 500 foreigners from over 50 countries.
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