The experience of international cooperation of Altai should be adopted by other regions of Russia.
Last summer, the State Duma adopted the Federal Law “On the Basics of Cross-Border Cooperation”. The need for a legislative act of this kind is long overdue, because the regions of the Russian Federation since the collapse of the Soviet Union began to actively develop international relations, including cross-border, but legislative regulation lagged behind the practice. The Law “On the Coordination of International and External Economic Relations of the Subjects of the Russian Federation” was adopted in 1999, but work on the law on cross-border cooperation lasted for many years and was completed only in 2017. Today, the subjects of the Federation can rely in their international activities on a more elaborate legal framework, their interaction with foreign partners is no longer so chaotic as in the nineties.
One of such subjects of Russia is the Altai Territory. Our region is located in the heart of Eurasia, at the intersection of transcontinental freight and passenger flows, which in itself creates a huge potential for international interaction. The region of the border type, the Altai Territory actively develops ties with both neighboring and unconstrained states.
International and foreign economic cooperation of the subject is an essential factor of its social and economic growth. About 70% of the region’s trade turnover is for export. Export orientation of the subject is the key to the stability of its economy. This was manifested in the fact that in the conditions of the structural crisis the economy of the region compared to the Russian one proved to be more adapted. Despite the crisis phenomena, exports and trade in general continue to grow after some decline due to the events of 2014. Although the raw material orientation of exports is noticeable, more than a quarter of its volume is occupied by food and agricultural goods. The share of various equipment, weapons and ammunition, and machine-building products is high. Foreign trade operations are carried out with 92 countries. Besides, active trade with foreign countries is conducted: in spite of sanctions, the United States is one of the largest markets for the region, they occupy the third place in terms of exports from the Altai Territory. Leading positions in Kazakhstan and China. They show a high interest in the products of the region and are its main trade and economic partners.
The development of cooperation between the Altai Territory and Kazakhstan is facilitated by historically established close economic and cultural ties between the border regions of Russia and Kazakhstan. The peculiarity of the geographical and demographic situation of this territory lies in the fact that in the border regions of Kazakhstan the share of the Russian population is high, due to this the cultural boundary is shifted towards the state border into the interior of the republic.
Interaction with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia is developing within the framework of the International Coordination Council “Our Common Home – Altai”. This structure is unique for Asia and created by the type of Euroregions. It includes the Altai Territory, the Altai Republic, the East Kazakhstan Region, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, the Bayan-Ulgiy and Khovd Aimaks of Mongolia. It is a permanent association of legislative and executive authorities of regions, civil society and the scientific sphere since 2003. The organization promotes trade and economic, scientific and technical, cultural and educational interaction between administrative and territorial entities of the Greater Altai. Now the activity directed on development of transport and logistical infrastructure of the Altay region is conducted.
The experience of creating an organization in Asia, like the Euroregion, is unique in its own way and should be adopted by other regions of the country. This is the basis for the formation of a zone of good-neighborliness along the perimeter of state borders, which is extremely important for ensuring state security and expanding the sphere of influence of the Russian Federation on neighboring states and their regions. Creation of bodies of cross-border cooperation with participation of other subjects of the Asian part of Russia can become a basis for development of relations with foreign states. Gone are the days when the guarantee of the security and well-being of states was defense and military expansion. Today, the world is conquered not with fire and sword, but with the help of soft power: achieving foreign policy goals by increasing the attractiveness of the state as a partner, cooperation, people’s diplomacy.
Cross-border links contribute to the socio-economic development of the regions, the solution of specific problems, including environmental, specific for specific areas. In the end, it contributes to raising the standard of living of the population, and this is our main task today.
Elena STROKOVA, a member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, a member of the LDPR faction.