A productive and friendly partnership is ready to be struck up between businesses in Scotland and Siberia which could make a positive difference to the Country. Says Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson.
Mr Gibson words came during a trip to the oil and gas rich Province of Khanty Mansiysk in Western Siberia where (among others) he met the Governor (Alexander Filipenko), the deputy chairman of government issues of Investment and Innovation Mr Morozovs as well as the deputy Governor Oleg Goncharov (whom Rob met and had informal economic talks with in Orkney, during the unveiling of the Yuri Gagarin Stone at Skara Brae, earlier this year).
Rob was invited to the Province after he helped secure the memorial stone on the timeline at Skara Brae (Orkney) , which commemorates the first man in space, the Russian Yuri Gagarin.
"Thanks to contacts with the highest levels of the government of the Autonomous Okrug of Khanty Mansiysk made possible by Alexander Korobko the principal of London-based Russian Hour TV I am able to scope the possibilities for Scottish exports and business relations available here."
"There are one and a half million inhabitants living in an area the size of France. 25,000 are native Khanty people who still live a traditional lifestyle to some extent. The attraction from the late Soviet times was oil. This area has helped transform the modern Russian economy."
"My series of informal meetings and visits to facilities and cultural, health and educational institutions shows how Mr Filipenko has been able to create a vitally modern city, about the size of Inverness from a Siberian oil camp. Like Scotland, Khanty Mansiysk has as much if not more oil in reserve and its deposits are huge being over 57 percent of Russian fed output "
"The Russian Federation has benefited hugely from Khanty Mansiysk and the Province has managed to buck the trend of falling population which is prevalent throughout much of Russia. It has been subject to major social investment using oil and gas profits to build a broader and more attractive economy for the future."
"Modern educational and health facilities encourage population retention and growth, along with cutting edge maternity services."
"it is an enchanting place in midst of endless forests, huge river systems and bogs. Summer a bit like ours but winter ferociously cold. There are smart and astute leaders both in Politics and the business community. I see great potential for Scotland and Siberia (as well as other parts of Russia too) to do business. There is a will in Siberia to make these connection so it is time for Scotland to start talking."
"Economic co-operation between the Highlands and Islands and this part of Russia could mark the beginning of huge benefits. One potential spin off could be access to cheaper fuel, in an area where we suffer greatly from fuel poverty, that would be a situation which could vastly improve the region."
Mr Gibson also learnt about that the Province's oil companies are seeking access to EU markets. He was told could that if access was granted it could stimulate competition which could see fuel prices reduced for consumers across the board.