The Right For Global Recognition
Chairman of the Commettee of External Relations
Although external relations are one of the most successful and dynamic areas of St. Petersburg's activities, they are sometimes seen as being separate from the city's internal problems. How would you define the role and place of external relations in the city's life?
Since the beginning of 1999, external and trade relations have been a very productive area in the city's economy There are a number of indicators that prove to us that external and interna-tional trade relations have become an integral part of the city's economy For example:
- Budget and non-budget sources of financing the sector's activities have been identified, with the
sector occupying a separate line in the city budget for 3 years.
- The vertical and horizontal rela-tions in the structure of the sector have emerged. The vertical coop-eration includes that with Russia's ministries and agencies, mainly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Federation and Nations, the Trade-Ministry and the departments of the Office of the Government of the Russian Federation. On the horizontal level we cooperate with 34 Consulates General, with the representative offices of the Federal structures in St. Peters-burg, NGOs and with specialisi organizations such as the Center for International Cooperation. the «St. Petersburg - London 2003» non-profit partnership. and the latter's office in London.
- We finally have a proper legal base. At the Federal level it com-prises the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Agree-ment on the Division of Powers, the Law on Coordinating the
International and External Trade Connections of Russian Fede-ration Subjects. We have started drafting a package of St. Peters-burg laws relating to interna-tional and external trade con-nections, which includes such laws as «On Agreements Regulating International and External Trade Connections of St. Petersburg», «On St. Peters-burg Representations Abroad», «On St. Petersburg's Participa-tion in International Organiza-tions» and others.
Promoting the city in the world is a process that takes place on many levels. It includes establish-ing direct links with countries and regions, opening St. Peters-burg representations abroad, organizing meetings and exhibi-tions. All this work has recently been subordinated to a single concept. What are its main princi-ples and priorities?
The main principles for the develop-ment of St. Petersburg's international and external trade relations in 1996-1999 have been as follows: collec-tivism, a systematic approach, a global take on the problem and a compre-hensive work.
Collectivism. We have witnessed a transition from an individual approach to collective work by the city administration with groups of employers, journalists, artists and national unions. That is the principle that now underlies our work, includ-ing that done during high-level visits to St. Petersburg and trips abroad by St. Petersburg delegations.
The meetings with UN General Secretary Kofi Annan and with Presidents and Prime Ministers of a number of states have notably improved the development of inter-national and external trade relations in the North-West of Russia and in the Russian Federation. Thanks to the personal input of the Swedish Prime Minister, a Swedish House was set up in St. Petersburg. The develop-ment of the St. Petersburg transport system has become a personal prior-ity for the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The UN General Secretary supported the creation of «Environmental Troops».
Meetings and consultations with Finnish heads of state became regular, resulting in our Business Contact Center being set up in Finland.
Systematic Approach.Vivid examples of the systematic approach to international and external trade cooperation can be found in the «Baltic Initiative» and «Eurasian Dimension of the Baltic Initiatives» programs. These programs are part of a strategic plan that clearly identifies our goals and methods, the interna-tional organizations and events to be focussed on. The plan has already achieved an intermediate result by defining the partners and preparing applications to the Committee of European Communities. The system-atic approach can be clearly seen in the sphere of attracting investments:
- A package of St. Petersburg laws that support investments has been adopted;
- Budget funds have been allotted to provide city guarantees for credits;
- A line has been reserved in the budget for a program promoting the investment image of St. Pe-tersburg abroad;
- The Committee for Entrepre-neurial Safety Information Sup-port is working actively;
- The Business Practices Code of St. Petersburg is being introduced, and so on.
Global Approach. St. Petersburg's cooperation with separate foreign municipalities and regions has now become part of our cooperation with whole foreign states. For example, our relations with France include collabo-ration with ministries and agencies, contacts with the President, and part-nerships with the cities of Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, Lyons and Le Havre. Business and cultural contacts with Poland include collaboration with Gdansk and Warsaw. St. Petersburg now has over 55 partner cities across the world and 17 partnership agree-ments have been signed in 1996-1999. Among the most actively developing are relations with Turku, Helsinki, Stockholm, Hamburg, Nice, Istanbul, Isphagan, Shanghai, Archus, Prague, Warsaw and Gdansk.
The years 1996-1999 have seen the implementation of major bilateral
programs such as the «300 Years of the Peter's Great Embassy to Britain», «A Gateway to the Netherlands», the «Vivat (Long Live) St. Petersburg» festi-val in New York, the «Cutty Sark» Regatta, the Sister City Congress «Young People for European Cooperation and Development».
Partner countries are subdivided into priority groups. These are the Baltic and Nordic countries, a group of CIS coun-tries in Central Asia, a group of Central European counties, a group of Latin America countries and a group of South-East Asian countries.
Recently we have set up a Center for Cooperation with Asia Pacific Region and a Center for Cooperation with Middle East Countries in collaboration with the city's companies. St. Petersburg is an important center of international shipping, because interests of a number of countries are concentrated in the Baltic.
We consider seven main transport routs as being linked to the development of Eurasian integration:
- «The Baltic Bridge»:
the sea rout from Germany to St. Petersburg;
- «The Hanseatic Way»: the
St. Petersburg - Berlin motorway;
- «The Northern Ray»: the St. Petersburg - Helsinki -Stockholm motorway;
- «The Far East Ray»: along the Trans-Siberian Railway;
- «The Asian Ray»: St. Petersburg -Central Asia Republics - China;
- «The South-Eastern Ray»:
St. Petersburg - Novorossiysk -Astrakhan;
- «The Southern Ray»: St. Petersburg - the Ukraine - Moldova -Rumania - Bulgaria - Greece.
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