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"We have created all conditions to gain a foothold on the international political and business maps" (Rustem Khamitov's interview to "Interfax")

In a few weeks Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, will be the venue for the international SCO and BRICS summits for the first time, which have a huge impact on the economic, social and political development of the participating countries and the world. To hold the summits on a high level, preparations were conducted for several years without interruption and, despite the economic crisis, the Republic carry out all undertaken obligations with the help from the federal government. Rustem Khamitov, the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, have told "Interfax" about results of preparations, as well as ensuring of the summits' effectiveness and the safety of its participants.

- Mr. Khamitov, political analysts say that Russia is considering the chairmanship in the SCO and BRICS as the most important strategic foreign policy event, so the upcoming international events in Ufa have special emphasis. What do you think about this emphasis?

- Ufa plans to approve the SCO Development Strategy. This is a serious request for participation in the international political agenda. The Russian Federation put forward the initiative. It is talked of more efficient cooperation of the SCO countries in the next 10 years. This document is conceptual, so we pay a special attention to its preparation. A similar document will be placed for consideration at the BRICS summit. It will be Strategy of economic partnership until 2020, which would detail with the roadmap of investment cooperation.

- At the BRICS Business Forum in Fortaleza (Northeastern Brazil), you have defined inter-regional cooperation as an important direction, and proposed to create the "region-to-region" format. To what extent is this format of cooperation promising? In what way develops the cooperation with the regions of EurAsEC and CIS countries, with regions of the BRICS, APEC, and the SCO partner-countries?

- The life today forces us to deal with the inter-regional cooperation. Just see: cooperation exists at the level of the SCO and BRICS leaders and at the level of big business, but there is no cooperation at the regional level.

Although it is the «R2R» format which is able to attract investments for the territorial development. It allows joining efforts of both large enterprises and small, medium-sized businesses, and also creating clusters with the participation of the SCO and BRICS businessmen.

In fact, the «R2R» format should be an essential part of the each country's development and the SCO and BRICS countries development as a whole. It should be the third point of support along with interstate relations and big business cooperation.

For instance, Bashkortostan cooperates with Chinese regions; we have signed agreements with the provinces of Jiangxi, Liaoning. Just last year, we held 15 meetings with representatives of the China business community; we organized the “Republic of Bashkortostan Business Days in P.R. China” Forum. We also have relationship agreements with the regions of India, Iran, Belarus, Turkey, Sri Lanka. We started without waiting for the formalization of these relations at the SCO and BRICS level. We create new businesses and additional employment, start cooperation, and we sure that will increase our competitiveness in the global marketplace.

- What is the budget for the SCO and BRICS summits, which will be held in Ufa on 8-9 July 2015? Is the federal support (financial, methodological) enough to implement all the planned events on time, since this budget was approved long before the crisis?

- We cannot still mention the total amount that will be aimed at the summits. Our experience in major international events management (for instance, Olympics in Sochi, World Student Games in Kazan) shows that the final assessment of the financial costs can be made only after event completion. To date, the cost of training amounted to 10.5 billion rubles. From the federal budget we have got and used 2.5 billion; the Republic also appropriated 2 billion rubles; private investments have exceeded 6 billion rubles. Budget expenditures are modest: Ufa was almost ready to host summits. We only need to renovate the Congress Hall, the airport and build hotels. Therefore, the crisis actually had no effect on the preparation.

- Under the current economic situation the role of tight control over the fund expenditure is significant. The Republic authorities have declared their intentions to control expenditure at all stages from the beginning of preparation. According to your data, how effective this control is carried out? Is preparation process transparent enough? Whether the inappropriate expenditures and overspending were fixed in certain areas, including due to adjustments because of price increase?

- I have control over the expenditure of funds, the progress of constructions and the quality of work personally. We can say that the work is carried out in the "manual control regime".

During these two years I visited constructions and controlled contractors every week. There were many questions, but they were solved quickly enough. Everyone understood the scale of the task.

And today, when we look at the new facilities and assess their potential, we realize that the Republic received a huge reserve for development.

- Which objects of Ufa infrastructure will be directly used in the organization (hotels, food services, cultural objects) and holding (conference halls, business centers) summits and events at the summit, what is their degree of readiness? How these objects will be used after the summit, according to the forecast plan?

- It is less than two months to the summit; preparation is on the home straight. One of the most important tasks was the modernization of the Ufa airport, and we deal with it. The take-off and landing strip, which allows accommodate extra-weigh planes like "Boeing 747", "Ruslan" and "Airbus-330", was renovated. Due to national funds we built a new international terminal, which meets all international standards. Thus we have increased the capacity for international lines to 800 passengers per hour. And since life does not stop after the summits, we have already started preparations for the equally large-scale reconstruction of the terminal for domestic airlines.

The main events will be held in the Congress Hall. It was built in one of the most picturesque places of the city, on the banks of the White River eight years ago for the 450th anniversary of the joining of Bashkortostan to Russia. However, we needed to re-create workspace for meetings of heads of state, and press conferences. Now more than three thousand people can simultaneously work there.

During the two years of preparation for the summits, private investors have built in Ufa seven new hotels, including such well-known brands such as Hilton, HolidayInn, Sheraton.

After the summit these objects will not stand without work. Just this year we have planned several major events in the context of Russia's chairmanship of the SCO and BRICS.

In autumn the republic will hold Interregional Cooperation Forum "Russia - Kazakhstan", headed by the presidents of the two countries. We have plans to create in Ufa the standing platform for cooperation at the regional level in the framework of international cooperation. Thus, we start to strengthen the political structure of the SCO and BRICS "from below". The head of state supported the idea. So there is no doubt of the utilized capacity of new facilities.

- The SCO and BRICS countries are aimed at improving of the efficiency of industrial and technological cooperation, at intensification of cooperation in such areas as energy, mining, metallurgy, agro-industry, telecommunications, high technology and the expansion of cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. In what way do event organizers provide technical equipment of presentation platforms to demonstrate the economic potential of Russia? At the same time, Bashkortostan, which is one of the most powerful, developed regions of Russia, intends to demonstrate its own economic potential at the summit. In what way organizers plan to present regional opportunities?

- I think we have created all conditions for our Republic and the Ufa-city to gain a foothold on the international political and business maps. Today, the capital of Bashkortostan has the necessary infrastructure to hold meetings both at the highest level and at the level of inter-country business cooperation. For example, new hotels are equipped with comfortable meeting rooms, which can become a platform for business meetings and ceremonies. On the territory of one of these hotels will operate a business center, where will be created conditions for the business meetings, conferences and official receptions. We can also hold meetings in the format of «B2B» in other hotels. All this preparations will allow presenting both economic potential of Russia, and investment opportunities of Bashkortostan.

- During holding of such large-scale events solution of security issues is very important. What measures will be taken during the summits in Ufa?

- We give particular attention on security issues both at the federal and regional levels. For example, 214 security cameras were installed in Ufa during preparation for the SCO/BRICS Summits. Thus, we provide both a constant control of the situation, and also the safety of visitors and residents.

- In addition to the updating of infrastructure facilities you solve issues of transport security and train volunteers. How do you plan to organize the meeting and escort for guests, after all it is a new situation for the Republic?

- It is not the first time, when Bashkortostan hold an international event. We held the International Children's Winter Games and the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. Therefore, we already faced with logistics issues of large number of delegations.

Volunteers will meet and escort the delegations, representatives of the SCO and BRICS business communities and journalists in Ufa. Visitors' impression of Ufa-city depends on them in many respects.

Residents of the Republic and the country are really interested in the summits; many people want to share in these events, to help in its organization. When we announced the recruitment of volunteers, almost 10 thousand people filed applications; it was young people, and also retirees, residents of other regions, even foreigners. There were also students from China, Iran, India, Turkey, Africa and the CIS, who are studying now in universities of Ufa.

As a result, more than 3,500 volunteers got distance training and had face-to-face interviews. 500 people were chosen, another 300 were included in reserve. Most of them speak English, some of them speak Chinese, and so they would not have any problems in communication with the guests.

- Which changes will be made during the summit (for instance, traffic restrictions, the activities of credit organization, the audio encryption, the work of emergency services, schedules of cafes and restaurants or shopping centers)?

- We do the best to avoid any discomfort, related to the work of international forums.

Ufa-city will live its ordinary life, and no one is going to hinder it; there will be no traffic restrictions or ban on visiting any place.

The only place not available for residents will be the Salavat Yulaev Square. We have already started the construction of the press-center, where more than one thousand journalists from around the world can operate.

- How do you plan to develop cooperation with the SCO countries in the transport sector?

- During the meeting of Transport Ministers of the SCO countries, which was held in Ufa on May 15, I proposed to organize direct air travel between Ufa and the capitals of the SCO and BRICS countries., We consider this question as one of the priorities for the development of the country as a major transport and logistics hub, linking Europe and Asia.

- Thanks to the SCO and BRICS summit Ufa go down in the world history. It is a great result for the city. What do you think about the prospects for the development of the Ufa-city and Bashkortostan after the summit?

- We consider summits as a strategic project, which effect is measured in decades. In July Ufa becomes the "visiting card" of Russia; several thousand visitors will arrive from countries, whose population all in all is one-third of total world population. It is a heavy responsibility. But it is important now to lay the foundation of further cooperation at the regional level, to establish a contact with the business community of the SCO and BRICS countries, to show investment opportunities of our Republic. Then we will have not one or five, but a few tens of "points of growth" in different directions.

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