Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 33rd meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, June 5, 2019
We are holding another, the 33rd, meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation.
During the last meeting six months ago, we reviewed the participation of the Russian regions in expanding the tourism industry with a focus on inbound tourism primarily in order to overcome the socioeconomic challenges facing the regions and to promote objective information about Russia. The FIFA World Cup has convinced us that these two goals are completely achievable and beneficial for our economy and the advancement of the truth about our country.
I would like to note with satisfaction that the recommendations adopted at the previous meeting were widely used not only by the regions, but our foreign missions as well, which actively contributed to the regions’ participation in international tourism exhibits, and worked on new areas of cooperation in tourism.
The regions maintain close interaction with the RUSSIA.TRAVEL national travel portal and the national calendar of events, EventsInRussia.com. Information on tourism potential is regularly updated, and new sites and events are being added all the time. Interaction between the regions and the National marketing centre for tourism Visit Russia enjoys strong demand.
Separately, I would like to note that much attention is being given to events related to our history. The now traditional military history festival, Forgotten Feat - Second Shock Army, will take place in the Novgorod Region this year as well. The Belgorod Military History Museum-Reserve, The Field of Prokhorovka, sees about 450,000 tourists annually. Events dedicated to the Romanov and Stroganov dynasties are held in the Perm Region. The Partisan Trails project is being implemented in the Republic of Adygea. A tourist trail was developed in the Chechen Republic that takes tourists to high-mountain Kezenoy-Am Lake with a visit to the ancient village of Khoy with sites established by primitive hunters that date back 2,500 years.
Press tours for foreign journalists arranged by our ministry make a significant contribution to popularising the country’s cultural diversity. Last year, we organised 19 such trips. I will also mention the international information tour, Tuva-Mongolia-Tuva-Khakassia, which was held in 2018. I think this useful practice should be expanded. I am grateful to all the regions that closely cooperate with our foreign missions and ministry offices in your capitals in this regard.
New tourist routes are being created and promoted, including the Great Tea Route international project covering Buryatia, the Irkutsk Region, Trans-Baikal Territory, China and Mongolia, the large-scale Greater Altai tourist festival, as well as the Greater Altai and the Altai Golden Mountains routes.
Less traditional types of tourism, such as industrial, event, gastronomic, ecological and ethnic tourism, are also being developed, including the Cheese Festival in Adygea and Shanga Fest in the Komi Republic, the Honey Festival in Bashkiria, and Grab a Crab! and Taiga Fest in the Primorye Territory. The Sverdlovsk Region hosts a very interesting Ethnic Festival at the Nevyansk Tower MasterGrad. Art festivals of indigenous peoples are organised in the Far East and Kamchatka, which also bring in significant numbers of tourists from other regions and countries.
I am confident that these efforts will continue as they received a major boost after our recommendations were supported by President Putin and the Government. Carrying on this work is important. We will provide the necessary support to the regions.
Today we will discuss an issue that concerns the interregional forums and conferences that are held with the regions and your foreign partners. Many, including the governors here, have extensive experience in this area. I think these forums should continue to be used to promote the development of the regions and to expand business, cultural, humanitarian and other types of cooperation with their foreign partners.
We can see – and this is only natural – that interaction within the post-Soviet space, including bringing aboard new participants in these processes, remains the top priority in our regions’ external relations. The Russian-Kyrgyz and Russian-Tajik conferences on interregional cooperation have already taken place this year. In general, they brought positive results, but, of course, Russia’s regions could participate more actively. Of the more than 70 regions that maintain ties with Kyrgyzstan, only 11 participated in the forum. About 80 regions work with Tajikistan, but only 17 attended the conference.
Similar events are being planned with Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before the end of the year. We hope you and other regional heads will keep close tabs on the preparations.
It is important, while continuing to pay special attention to our partners in the post-Soviet space, to expand the geography of interregional forums, including with the APR states. Last year, this trend grew stronger. Interregional forums were held with China and South Korea. The second Russian-Chinese, as well as a Russian-Iranian and a Russian-Indian forums, are being scheduled for the first time this year. After a ten-year pause, the Council of Governors of Russia and Japan met in Moscow in mid-May. Both sides spoke positively about resuming this very useful practice during our recent visit to Tokyo to participate in a meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries.
Of course, we remain interested in maintaining the dynamics of our relations with Europe and at the interregional level. This is particularly important now that state-to-state relations between Russia and the EU are going through a rough patch. As you know, this is not happening at our initiative. That makes the regional links between the Russian regions and your colleagues in Europe even more important.
The Russian-German cross year of regional and municipal partnerships has been held over the past two years. The bilateral commission to coordinate the implementation of the agreement between Russia and France on promoting cooperation between territorial entities will convene in July. An agreement has been reached on holding the Russian-French year of region-to-region cooperation in 2020.
We praise the important and in its own way unique character of Barents cooperation. The Barents Regional Council comprises 14 administrative and territorial units from Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden and is an established foundation for maintaining extensive daily contact between the regions in these neighbouring states.
I would also like to note the mutually beneficial cooperation between the regions in the Baltic, primarily, as part of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation Organisation and the Union of Baltic Cities.
To reiterate, given the current international situation, depoliticised, pragmatic and goal-oriented dialogue focusing on the people’s needs within regional forums will, of course, make a difference in maintaining trust and understanding between states and peoples.
I look forward to having a productive and engaged discussion, the results of which will be included in the recommendations that we traditionally present to the country leaders. Hopefully, these recommendations will receive support and help us promote this critical area of international activity.