Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting On the Development of the Far Eastern Federal University and the Legacy of the APEC Summit in Vladivostok
8 september 2011
Vladimir Putin’s opening remarks:
Good afternoon, colleagues.
At a meeting with the core group of the Russian Rectors’ Union in Moscow at the end of August, we agreed to meet here in Vladivostok to see how the Far Eastern Federal University is developing, including in terms of the necessary infrastructure. I hope that what we have seen today has made a favourable impression on you and I am sure that we did not come here in vain. We will discuss this in more detail.
I am certain that we should use the experience of building a university campus on Russky Island, where we are now, with these well-honed technical solutions – this is all positive experience, thankfully there has been no negative experience so far – for the comprehensive development of other Russian universities. Allow me to remind you that there are 27 buildings here: 11 dormitories, academic buildings, student centres, medical centres, a landscaped park, and a 1,300-metre long embankment.
In 2012, the facilities of the Far Eastern Federal University will host the APEC summit. We are also entering the final stage of preparations for the World Student Games in Kazan, as you know, and for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia will also host the World Football Cup and the World Ice Hockey Cup. Why am I pointing this out? Because we will try to hold these events in the same way that we have handled things here, to ensure that the legacy of these events is not simply worthy, but that it serves our people for many years to come. This is investment in development, in the new face of our cities and regions, in the quality of our people’s lives, in infrastructure and construction.
The federal budget has allocated 205 billion roubles for the development of Vladivostok as a centre of economic cooperation in the Asian-Pacific region. The money will be used for a complete overhaul of the city’s infrastructure. I think you have seen this. As you know, since the moment it was founded, for decades Vladivostok has developed as a military city, as a naval base. For the current stage of development of the country and the region, this is, of course, no longer enough. The city is open today, and it requires substantial investment. The 205 billion I mentioned is federal investment, but this is only a beginning. I was pleased to see how the airport is being modernised (I'll come back to that later), and the way roads are being built. No development is possible without the development of infrastructure. Today, as you know – and some of you may have attended the commissioning ceremony – gas has arrived in the Primorye Territory. This is a crucial event for the development of the entire region, because development is impossible without energy. Gas has arrived here, and it is four times cheaper than fuel oil, which currently forms the basis of the local energy sector.
I hope that the condition of the streets and roads will significantly improve. Refuse dumps will be cleared, and housing and utilities will be modernised. Measures are being taken to improve the environment in the region. I have already mentioned the Knevichi airport, which is now connected with Vladivostok by a new railway. How long does it take? About 40 minutes, I believe?
Vladimir Putin: Forty four minutes from the centre of Vladivostok to the airport. The city's waterfront is being improved; an opera and ballet theatre is under construction. When I was here last, I was given a postcard dated about 1906, I think. At that time, our predecessors dreamed of having a bridge that would connect the city’s two districts. The drawing on the postcard is very similar to what we are doing today, and it depicts dirigibles flying around. Well, that was in 1906… And now, in 2011, we are fulfilling the dreams and the plans of our predecessors of over 100 years ago. There are new hotels being built, as well as new residential areas near the Bay of Patrokl and Zelyony Ugol, heat and power generating facilities, and – as I have already mentioned – bridges across the Eastern Bosphorus strait and the Golden Horn Bay.
Of course, there is still a lot to be done, and neither federal nor regional authorities should allow themselves to relax. Today, we have visited the construction site on Russky Island. A lot has been done there, but there is still a great deal more that needs to be accomplished. We have seen the campus and the oceanarium, which will be part of the Far Eastern section of the Russian Academy of Sciences. We could also think about constructing a specialised lab building. Of course, we also need to consider young people’s leisure time: cinemas, nightclubs and discos. Everything should be up-to-date, civilised and of the highest quality. This will be a good foundation for investing both state – regional and federal – money, as well as private capital. I ask everyone involved to make their proposals.
Russia will enjoy an immense legacy from hosting largest international forums. We must make sure that we handle them wisely. This potential, as I said, can and must serve Russia’s interests, work for future development, future progress of our country.
I suggest that the facilities both under construction and on paper should be used for educational purposes, for our institutes and universities, as we are doing here in Vladivostok. As you know, the accommodation that has been built for athletes attending the Student Games in Kazan will be transferred to Kazan University. We intend to follow the scheme with similar competitions such as the Olympic Games and two world championships in ice hockey and football.
The future intended purpose of such facilities (villages, sports centres and public infrastructure) must be taken into consideration at the project development stage. For this reason, we have invited construction engineers and representatives of the Russian Housing Development Foundation to this meeting to outline – along with university presidents – the primary requirements for future facilities, which will later be converted into dormitories, campus buildings, sports centres and accommodation for teachers without any extra costs. We have seen today what the housing will be like for teachers and I think anyone would be content with such conditions.
I should add that we must consider all aspects of university infrastructure, including barrier-free environment to ensure easy access for students with disabilities.
There is another major point. We must think of an efficient management system for a modern university complex. It is a big and complicated economic entity requiring wise professional approaches, including assistance from ad hoc management companies.
I’ll say a few words about the Far Eastern University. It is the first project of its kind in Russia. Mr Sadovnichy (Viktor Sadovnichy, Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University) and I... I mean, he recollected how Moscow State University was under construction, with a total area to be commissioned of how much? One million square metres? The Far Eastern University’s area is 800,000 square metres, which is comparable to how Moscow State University began. As you can see, everything is done according to the highest modern standards with the use of latest technology. The university is truly unique when it comes to educational technologies, as well as its status as the driving force of Russian science, education and innovation in the Asian and Pacific regions.
The campus on Russky Island is a real student city meeting world standards and requirements. Armed with the latest design solutions and construction technology, the developers were able to extend the campus area six times over the originally planned figure. I should stress that no additional funding was needed.
Last December, the government approved the university development programme for the next 10 years (2010-2019). The government has allocated 5 billion roubles for its implementation, while the investments from other sources will exceed 8.6 billion roubles until 2020. I have already spoken with the rector and I think we should discuss seeking companies that would be interested in workforce training to secure the start-up assets for the university.
From the get-go, we must occupy and strengthen our leading positions in science both here in the Far East and in the world. Of course, this cannot be achieved by simply building new modern study facilities and student accommodation, or even state-of-the-art educational technology. We must create rewarding conditions that will attract qualified experts from Russia and abroad. As we can see, the opportunities exist.
Mr Sadovnichy told me that Vladimir Malakhov, a prominent researcher and a professor at Moscow State University, had already started a sea invertebrate biology lab project here.
We hope that the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences can serve as a sound basis for the university’s academic staff. I also count on the assistance from other leading universities, such as Moscow State University, St Petersburg State University, Bauman Moscow State Technical University and many others represented here today.
Colleagues, we must support local science. I do understand that it is always hard to let go of the best graduates, tutors and professors, but you will agree that talented teachers and researchers, and young professionals have extraordinary career prospects here in the Far East, as well as – and I should stress again – very good social opportunities, such as available housing.
As you can see, the necessary conditions are being created. The Russian Housing Foundation alone is building nearly 1 million square metres of housing in the Primorye Territory, over half of them in comfortable low-rise properties. This must have a positive effect on housing prices. I believe that the university in cooperation with the regional authorities can offer comfortable and affordable housing solutions for university staff.
Another important point is that Far Eastern Federal University’s growth must serve as an integral part of regional development plans and generate new points of growth there.
We must build efficient interaction with large enterprises and companies operating in the region and find our place in innovative development programmes and investment and infrastructure projects, and work together with the district’s businesses and regions to outline the requirements to educational programmes and qualifications of future graduates, especially in priority areas for the Far East, such as biomedicine, shipbuilding and engineering, logistics and Oriental studies.
Basically, we must ensure the whole Far Eastern region is equipped with a qualified workforce for its social and economic development.
I suggest that we share opinions on all these issues.
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Vladimir Putin’s closing remarks:
What I would like to say in conclusion is that we all understand very well the tremendous strategic importance of the Far East, of Primorye, for our country. This area provides us with access to the very promising markets of the Asia-Pacific region. It means remarkable, huge, promising mineral resources. It means transport communications. This area is a jewel of Russia. But we also know that, due to certain circumstances, it has been developing at a slow pace. Suffice it to say that, until very recently, there was not even a highway connecting the Far East with the European part of Russia. By the time our war with Japan began in 1904, we had built the Chinese Eastern railway, then the Trans-Siberian railway; at the time when our relations with our neighbour, unfortunately, became strained, we built the Baikal-Amur railway. But still, there was no highway. This we built only very recently, just a little while ago. And we will continue our communications development. We will develop modern communications: we have already built an airport. We will also develop the energy sector, making it modern and powerful. Today, as I have already said, gas has arrived here from Sakhalin.
The next stage will be bringing gas here from Yakutia, and setting up a powerful energy cluster. Meanwhile, the University should provide a powerful intellectual base for the development of the entire Far East. Without this intellectual support, this intellectual foundation, the region cannot have a future.
I would very much like for you to look with your own eyes at what is being done here in these areas. Of course, we must not have just standard universities that are cut to one pattern; this is impossible and pointless. Here, in the Far East, we are creating something from scratch, but we are doing so with advanced standards, perhaps the most advanced. I would like for these standards to be advanced in comparison with our neighbours, and of course, these standards can be employed in education all throughout the country. But of course, these are new sites, and – as our colleagues have already suggested – I would like all that experience that we have gained in our education system over the centuries to be reflected here, in the Far East.
I entreat you to approach all of this very seriously – you know, as a common cause related not to the development and support of an individual university and its rector, but to the large national task of the development of the Russian Far East.
Thank you very much.