Vacations on yalta in renovated soviet hotels. Image: u. Heyden
Concepts for the modernization of crimea were discussed at an international economic conference in yalta
At the second yalta international economic forum, held from 13. To the 15. April at the luxury mriya hotel southwest of the city, strategies were discussed on how to move the peninsula forward economically – despite the crisis and sanctions. According to experts, crimea’s untapped potential is huge, especially in the tourism, health and it sectors.
The current problems with the economic crisis and western sanctions are not an obstacle but, on the contrary, an incentive to set out for new horizons, was the general tenor at the conference, which was attended by 1.100 participants, including 60 foreigners from 26 countries, had come to the event.
The glawa (head) and chairman of the council of ministers of the "republic of crimea", sergey aksyonov, in strong words, promised the numerous companies that had come to the forum that the "de-burocratization" of economic life. He praised what has been achieved so far. Thus, entrepreneurs could now send their documents to the authorities via the internet. The highly permissible processing time by officials has been limited to 30 days. At the time when crimea was still part of ukraine, the processing time took two to three years, aksyonov explained.
However, investment contracts with foreign investors were not signed at the economic forum. Andrei nazarov, one of the forum organizers and co-chairman of the association "delovoy rossii" ("business russia"), announced at a press briefing at the conclusion of the economic forum that for june "further meetings with german and other partners" from abroad are planned.
Plenary session at the economic forum. Image: u. Heyden
One does not want to be isolated
Aksonyov explained (video minute 6:40), for the foreign investors "it is important not to fall under the sanctions provisions". To prevent this, there were "a series of instruments for foreigners to come here and organize a flow of money to get the dividends they expect". But this question is not discussed openly. He said that he is convinced that foreigners will "make use of this opportunity". What exactly aksyonov meant remained unclear. It became clear, however, that the crimea does not want to be isolated economically.
The holding of the economic forum was also important for the crimean administration to show that things are quiet on the peninsula. At the final briefing for journalists, aksyonov said that the foreigners who had come to the event had been given the following information "wondered why there are no tanks on the streets in our country". They had "convinced that everything is quiet".
The author of these lines can testify that it is absolutely quiet in the crimea and there are no tanks on the streets. The dramatic travel warning of the auswartigen amt had to be updated urgently. It says there: "travel to the crimean peninsula is strongly discouraged. (…) since june 2015, travel to crimea from the ukrainian mainland has required an entry permit from the competent ukrainian authorities, which is ied only under certain conditions, and under no circumstances for tourist purposes. (…) consular protection cannot currently be granted to german nationals there in view of the current situation."
sergey aksyonov, glava ( head) and chairman of the council of ministers of the "republic of crimea", has invited foreign guests for breakfast. Image: u. Heyden
A new airport and a bridge from the russian mainland
According to the president of crimea, twelve investment agreements with a total volume of 935 million euros were signed at the economic forum. However, these are exclusively investments of russian companies or the russian state.
The bulk of the investment – 427 million euros – is for the planned construction of a new airport in simferopol, the capital of crimea. Construction is to begin this year. The opening of the new airport is planned for 2018. The construction is to be financed by the small crimean-based financial institutions genbank and rnkb, as well as by the st. Petersburg-based bank. Petersburg-based bank rossiya, which is subject to western sanctions.
The airport is one of the modernization projects aimed at bringing tourism to crimea to new heights. In soviet times, twelve million people spent their vacations on the peninsula in the black sea. The crimean administration hopes to reach similar numbers again soon. In 2015 there were 4.2 million tourists on the island. This year the number is expected to reach 4.9 million. Turkey is boycotted by russia as a vacation destination. So crimea could be a vacation alternative for the russians. However, prices on the peninsula have risen by 20 percent this year.
Business students with good grades were allowed to attend the conference. Picture: u. Heyden
In order to free crimea from its geographic isolation, russia is currently investing rough sums of money. While guests at the economic forum listened to presentations by russian ministers, bankers and businessmen, construction continued east of the peninsula in the kerch strait on concrete piers for a 19-kilometer bridge connecting crimea with mainland russia, scheduled for completion in december 2018.
"We create our own problems and then solve them heroically"
Sergey glazhev, the left-wing patriotic economic adviser to the russian president, introduced his speech at the closing plenary session with a pointed remark that caused a smile. He has been participating in the discussion on the development of the economy in crimea for twenty years now, glazhev said, "but almost nothing has changed among the participants in this discussion". The old folk wisdom is right, "we create problems for ourselves and then solve them heroically".
Sergei glazhev is one of putin’s economic advisors. Picture: u. Heyden
They had gathered at the conference, "to convince foreign investors to invest in the economy of crimea". But every smart foreign investor asks: "why do not invest yourselves?"
The russian central bank – according to glasew – must finally increase the amount of rubles, so that the economic process gets going and more investments are made. If the russian state itself does not allow long term loans, do not be surprised that foreign investors do not come.