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Abkhazia: Big Business Forum2010-10-19 15:18
For the second time Abkhazia has hosted forum "Abkhazia - 2010: to steady economic growth and extension of inter-regional cooperation with Russia". Hotels in central Sukhum are used to greeting official guests from Russia and other countries like Sergey Bogdanchikov at the time of his Rosneft CEOship, State Duma deputies or EU Special Envoy to South Caucasus Peter Semneby seen at breakfast. The recent forum was unprecedented for the number of VIPs. Gazprom, VTB, Megafon leaders as well as Russian governors brought noticeable movement to the life of coastal quarters in the Abkhaz capital.
Reporting on the Forum, mass media focused on numbers - 500 guests. We, however, believe that quality has been the main achievement.
Oleg Papaskiri, an Abkhaz consulting agency director, is confident about his business in future. Obtaining orders from medium-sized Russian companies won't be a problem after meeting Gazprom managers in the corridors of his office center.
"The business forum held in Sukhum was probably most abundant and representative in history. The fact that high-ranking officials as well as leaders of Russia's largest companies were participants took the Abkhaz-Russian business relationships to a qualitatively new level that confirms their soundness", - Oleg Papaskiri told in an interview with GeorgiaTimes.
Like Sukhum hotels, accustomed to servicing VIP guests, the president's and government's protocol services are used to organizing pompous forums and conferences. Nonetheless, Alika Logua, head of the president's protocol service, feels uncomfortable that the Forum took place in the grand hall of government that needs renovation. Sukhum needs a modern congress hall, since large-scale events like the recent Forum are organized regularly here.
Abkhazia-2010 is the first meeting of Russian and Abkhaz businesses and managerial elite where future victories as well as current results of Russian-Abkhaz interaction have been discussed. Victor Basargin, Russian minister for regional development and Sergey Naryskhin, head of Kremlin administration arrived before pleasant procedures like signing new contracts and advertising Sukhum potential.
Together with head of Abkhaz government Sergey Shamba they held the second session of the working group coordinating appropriation of Russian funds allocated in Abkhazia. High-ranking Russian officials are satisfied with the new highway from Sukhum to the Russian border confident that Russian money is spent correctly in Abkhazia. Indeed, it looked more like a sincere reaction to what they saw in Abkhazia than an element of diplomatic tact on their part. In this connection republic PM Shamba remarked that Abkhaz government ensures effective spending which is reflected on the situation in the republic.
Abkhazia heard a first-person reply to the question about the terms on which the country is funded from Russia. Victor Basargin in charge of the Ministry for Regional Development replied that 11 billion rubles from Russia planned to be spent in Abkhazia before 2012 are gratuitous aid while the loan Moscow lends for railway restoration was obtained on favorable terms that "entrepreneurs or company executives can only dream of".
Rosneft company that also took part in the Forum is already working in Abkhazia and has evident interest in exploring the sea shelf for oil. Other participants of the event, like Gazprom for instance, have no ready business projects in the republic so far. So the arrival of Russian business giants in Sukhum can be viewed as publicity and an example to be followed by Russian companies that still doubt Abkhazia's prospects.