Arkhangelsk Region and Nenets Autonomous Area to draft joint socioeconomic development program
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Druzhinin

Arkhangelsk Region and Nenets Autonomous Area to draft joint socioeconomic development program

The authorities of the two regions will draft a program for the economic integration and common socioeconomic development of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Nenets Autonomous Area. The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic will co-author the document.

"The first thing for us to do within this common program is to clearly articulate its objectives. To do that, we have to identify the two regions' joint projects that will raise the quality of life for the people and boost the regions' economic development. Obviously, such projects must have federal support," Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexander Kozlov said at the meeting.

Regarding the program outline, Kozlov noted that it must incorporate long-term development plans for the regions with analysis and key goals. The ministry will review the collaboration while separate areas will be worked out by the expert community based at the information and analysis center under the State Commission.

Alexander Krutikov, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, also took part in the meeting. According to Krutikov, the program for common socioeconomic development is to be prepared within a new strategy for Arctic zone development which is currently being worked out by the ministry.

"As a reminder, we have been working on this new strategy openly and with the broad involvement of the public, experts and scientists. And we suggest this approach in drafting the program for the common development of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Nenets Autonomous Area, specifically, to provide mechanisms for the active engagement of the two regions' population, their NGOs and SMEs, as we draft this program," the deputy minister said.

He pointed out that a special online section will be started on the portal for public and expert comment. Also, public hearings are suggested with NGOs, businesses and representatives from the local indigenous peoples, on the key issues on the agenda of the two regions' common development. The conferences are expected to result in the adoption of specific suggestions for the program. After the draft program is completed, we recommend a broad public discussion on the portal and setting out a mechanism for public approval by the regions' residents through their legislative assemblies after which the final draft of the program is to be submitted for consideration to the State Commission for Arctic Development.

"We must identify specific joint projects, primarily on economic development. They can be projects in the processing and extracting industries and small business with a special focus on the improvement of the investment climate resulting from the implementation of such projects. The second area is infrastructure development where we must specify projects in the joint development of transport, energy and communications systems. The main focus here, in our view, must be the development of the Northern Sea Route and transport accessibility in remote territories. The third area is the social sphere: joint development of healthcare, preschool, school and vocational education. The key emphasis here lies in increasing the availability of social services including in remote areas. And of course, traditional business activities and the protection of the traditional ways of life of the indigenous peoples," Alexander Krutikov said when presenting the architecture of the program, adding that it is tentative and will be expanded and added to as public proposals and comments are received.

Acting Governor of the Arkhangelsk Region Alexander Tsybulsky supported the proposed work format. "We have identified our role within the proposed architecture. It concerns transport infrastructure with all its components (roads, air service, railways), the issues of energy and social development. I think we should move in these areas leaning on the considerable experience accumulated by the ministry during the development of the Far East territories in areas that are remote, inaccessible and sparsely populated," he said.

Acting Governor of the Nenets Autonomous Area Yury Bezdudny agreed with his colleague.

"The feedback from our region is straightforward — we support this process for working on the program. Moreover, we are perfectly aware that the development of the Russian Arctic is our shared priority. And as in your example of cooperation between the branches of the military, such a large-scale program is impossible to realize without this kind of cooperation. This proposal is the right approach because it includes broad public discussion, and this is very important for us," Yury Bezdudny pointed out.