MOSCOW, March 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Crimea's powers will be determined at future talks, Russian Regional Development Minister Igor Slyunyayev said on Tuesday noting that the issue will also be handled by the Russian parliament.
"The question put up at the March 16 referendum in Crimea was as clear as could be. [It was] about Crimea's accession to the Russian Federation as an entity of the Russian Federation. We have no other status for Russian regions," Slyunyayev said. "At the same time, we should understand that Crimea is in different political and legal conditions and cannot be incorporated into Russia at once."
The draft federal law, currently under review at the Russian parliament, envisions the possibility of signing a power-sharing agreement between Russian government bodies and the government bodies of the new region. Russia has such an agreement with the Republic of Tatarstan, effective since July 2007. Therefore, Crimea's authority is an issue of future talks and parliament's work, the minister said.
Crimean infrastructure and economy
As a new Russian region, Crimea cannot immediately become a full-fledged participant in ongoing programs and development instruments. It needs a transitional period of two to three years. Slyunyayev also noted considerable depreciation of Crimea's infrastructure.
Urban water supply systems and sewage are in poor condition, with wear and tear of these facilities estimated at 49% and 56%, respectively. The bulk of heat supply lines need major repairs. Many roads have not been repaired since the 1980s, and do not meet modern requirements. Crimean budget was 40% subsidized, the Russian minister said.
"It is difficult to estimate how much money will be needed for normalizing the Crimean economy, because much will depend on the projects to be implemented and the private investors that can be attracted," he went on.
Taking into account the fact that annual average growth rates on the peninsula are higher than the Russian average (3% in 2010-2012), the Crimean economy was practically unaffected by the crisis, slumping by a mere 2.2% versus the 14% slump of the Ukrainian economy, and fully overcoming its consequences two years ago.
Crimea can and should become a territory of success and prosperity. As tourism infrastructure will develop, Crimea will have a larger inflow of tourists whose spending will increase as well. "I'm confident at that the number of Russians holidaying in Crimea will increase this season," Slyunyayev said. "Hopefully Ukrainian authorities will not be creating obstacles to residents of Ukraine's eastern regions wishing to go to Crimea, because they make up almost 70% of holiday-makers."
Crimea is not self-sufficient in a number of vital resources, such as electricity and water. "Some 80% of water is supplied through the North Crimean canal from the river Dnieper. Also, Crimea is 80% dependent on electricity imports. Recently, this dependence decreased thanks to the construction of a 220-megawatt power plant and wind power plants. The situation with natural gas is different. Crimea is a gas exporter, producing 1.65 billion cubic meters of gas and consuming less than one billion cubic meters.
As for the bridge across the Kerch Strait, it is possible that Russia might tap the National Welfare Fund to implement this strategic and unquestionably profitable project, the minister noted.