Due to its geopolitical position, the Leningrad Region is actively developing international, interregional and external economic relations.
As part of the implementation of cooperation agreements, the Leningrad Region interacts with the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, regions of the Federal Republic of Germany, the People«s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Finland and Japan. It is planned to establish cooperation with the regions of Kazakhstan, Latvia, Uzbekistan. There are over 100 agreements on the implementation of international relations at the municipal level in the region.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 situation, many planned events in the field of international relations were held online or were postponed to the next year.
In 2021, in accordance with the Order of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko continued to work in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, being the head of the delegation of the Russian Federation and Deputy Chairman of the Congress since 2018.
The Congress is a unique platform for equal constructive dialogue between representatives of more than 150 thousand European municipalities and regions from 47 member states of the Council of Europe, a useful format for the exchange of experience and best management practices.
In 2020-2021, due to the imposed restrictions, the events of the Congress were held online, decisions were also taken within the framework of written procedures. At the meetings of statutory bodies and political groups, the issues of addressing the COVID-19 crisis, issues of holding local and regional elections, developing interaction between urban and rural areas, and the role of regions in matters of territorial solidarity were discussed. The active work of the Russian delegation was ensured, aimed at delivering objective information about Russia.
As the head of the Russian delegation to the Congress, on May 8, 2020, the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko made a video message to members of the Congress in connection with the anniversary of the Victory in World War II with an appeal to prevent the prevalence of nationalist ideas and to preserve the memory of the heroes and victims of the war.
A positive channel for interaction with the European Union, which has an important practical effect, is the cross-border cooperation programs: «Russia – South-East Finland»; «Russia – Estonia»; «Russia – Latvia», within the framework of which the implementation of infrastructure and standard projects continues in such areas as business development, logistics, energy, education, science and innovation, environmental protection, support for effective local and regional governance. Preparations are under way for a new period of Russia-EU cross-border cooperation programs for 2021-2027.
One of the major events in the period of a favorable epidemiological situation in Kingisepp district in August 2020 was the sports duathlon Narva Watman-2020 within the framework of the project Water Resources Management of the Narva River: Harmonization and Sustainability. 150 people took part in the passage of the water distance with access to the Gulf of Finland (20 km) and the cycling route (20 km) with the finish in the Ivangorod Fortress, and local residents. The youngest of eco-activists was 4 years old, the oldest participant was 83 years old. The duathlon became a bright ecological and sports event highlighting the issues of a healthy lifestyle and respect for nature, was held in compliance with all established requirements. Estonian partners could not take part in it and greeted Russian participants from the Narva embankment.
A striking example of the constructive development of bilateral cooperation with European partners is cooperation with a partner region – the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Federal Republic of Germany).
А business forum 4th Day of Entrepreneurs: Russia in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which arouses great interest in Russian and German business community, took place in June, 2021, in format of live link-up between two studios in Rostock and St.Petersburg in frames of the 24th St.Petersburg International Economic Forum. The Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko and the Minister-President of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Manuela Schwesig made a welcoming speech at the plenary session of the business forum and took part in the discussion «Russian-German cooperation through regional partnership». Representatives of executive bodies, organizations and business community of the Leningrad Region took part in the podium discussions devoted to development of cooperation in the espheres of econimics, energy, transport and logistics, healthcare, science and education.
Projects implemented by the Leningrad Region jointly with the German-Russian Partnership Society, headed by Erwin Zellering, and providing for close communication between Russian and German schoolchildren and youth have become a successful mechanism in promoting interaction in the humanitarian sphere.
In April 2021, within the framework of the German Week in St.Petersburg and the Year of Clean Water in the Leningrad Region a joint Russian-German youth environmental project «Hunting for Plastic» was realized in a distant format.
It is planned to continuе realization of the project Week of Russian-German youth exchanges in the Leningrad Region and Russian-German Week of culture in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the organization of which was postponed due to the pandemic.
Cooperation of the Leningrad Region with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region is actively being developed. Interaction with partner regions – Hebei Province (PRC) and Chungcheongnam-do Province (Republic of Korea) continues.
As part of the events dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of friendly ties between the Leningrad Region and Kyoto prefecture (Japan) and timed to coincide with the Year of Russian-Japanese interregional and twin-city exchanges in January 2020, Metelitsa Russian folk instruments Orchestra went on tour to Kyoto prefecture and gave a large-scale solo concert «Leningrad Nights» for residents of Kyoto prefecture and Russian compatriots living in Japan.
For more than 15 years, with the support of the Consulate General of Japan in St. Petersburg, festivals of Japanese culture have been successfully held in municipalities of the Leningrad Region. In 2020, the festival took place at the Multicenter for Social and Labor Integration of the Leningrad Region. For pupils of the Multicenter – young people with disabilities, master classes on traditional Japanese arts were organized.
Municipalities are developing contacts by means of public diplomacy. The closest ties have been established with partners from Germany, China and France. Traditionally, there is active interaction with neighboring Finland and Estonia in a wide range of areas. In November, 2020 representatives of the region took an active part in the work of the International Municipal Forum of the BRICS countries.
The clear priority is cultural, educational and informational events aimed at consolidating the Russian-speaking diaspora and supporting compatriots abroad. This year, traditional forums for Russian compatriots abroad were held online, which made it possible to test a new interesting format of cultural program events, for example, a theatrical online excursion along the Road of Life as part of the Leningrad Youth Forum named after Alexander Nevsky.
For more than 10 years, a unique project has been implemented aimed at fostering interethnic tolerance and mutual understanding between Russian and Polish youth – a competition among students of secondary schools of the Leningrad Region and the Lower Silesia on knowledge of the country and the partner region, with more than 8,000 students having already participated. The winners of the competition have the opportunity to visit the partner region and take Russian and Polish languages courses. During their visits to the Lower Silesia, schoolchildren of the Leningrad Region lay flowers at the military memorial cemetery of Soviet officers in Wroclaw. In 2020-2021, the competition was held in a remote format. The model of holding a competition with Polish partners was successfully used in organizing in 2020 a competition among schoolchildren of the Leningrad Region on knowledge of the history and culture of Greece, timed to coincide with the Russia-Greece Language and Literature Cross Year.
The Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko regularly meets with the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Russia and the heads of consular offices in St. Petersburg, during which promising areas of cooperation in the economic and humanitarian spheres are discussed.
The development and strengthening of partnerships with the CIS countries is one of the priority areas of international cooperation in the Leningrad Region. In 2020, interaction was carried out with the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In development of the agreements reached during the meeting between the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on September 14, 2020 in Sochi, on September 24 – 25, 2020, the delegation of the Leningrad Region headed by Governor Alexander Drozdenko visited the Republic of Belarus. During the visit, the Governor of the Leningrad Region met with the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Roman Golovchenko. The Belarusian side expressed interest in the implementation of a joint project for the construction of a port or terminal in the Leningrad Region for transshipment of Belarusian goods. The agro-industrial complex and mechanical engineering were noted as priority areas of cooperation.
On October 22-23, 2020, the delegation of the Republic of Belarus headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Snopkov visited the Leningrad Region. During the visit the delegation of the Republic of Belarus met with the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko, the delegation got acquainted with the port infrastructure of the seaports of the Leningrad Region.
On March 24-26, 2021, the delegation of the Republic of Belarus headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Snopkov visited the Leningrad Region again. In frames if the visit on March 25, 2021, the ninth meeting of the Joint Commission for the Development of Cooperation between the Leningrad Region and the Republic of Belarus was held under the chairmanship of the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko and First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Snopkov. During the meeting, promising areas of cooperation and the development of cooperation ties were discussed. An important topic of the meeting was the discussion of cooperation in the field of ecology and waste processing.
An updated Agreement was signed between the Government of the Leningrad Region of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Belarus on cooperation in trade, economic, scientific, technical and socio-cultural spheres and an Action Plan between the Government of the Leningrad Region of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Belarus on cooperation in trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural fields for 2021-2023.
As part of expanding interregional cooperation with the Republic of Uzbekistan, in February 2020, a delegation of the Bukhara region of the Republic of Uzbekistan, headed by the Khokim, visited the Leningrad Region. Within the framework of the meeting of the delegation with the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko, the possibilities of cooperation in the field of investments, the agro-industrial complex, and tourism were discussed.
On May 25, 2021, textbooks on the Russian language were presented to the Consul General of the Republic of Uzbekistan in St. Petersburg Alisher Babayev from the schools of the Leningrad Region to the schools of the Khorezm region of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the House of Friendship of the Leningrad Region.
On June 8, 2021, a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations under the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko was held on the topic: «Support and popularization of the Russian language in the CIS countries and in the post-Soviet space: the potential of the capabilities of executive authorities and national organizations». The parties discussed the interaction of the Leningrad Region with Uzbekistan and the Uzbek national and cultural autonomy of St. Petersburg «Uzbekim». The Consul General of the Republic of Uzbekistan in St. Petersburg Alisher Babayev made a report on the topic: «The Russian language in modern Uzbekistan».
In June 2021, the delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan headed by Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan Dilshod Sultanov visited the Leningrad Region. During the meetings with the leadership of the Leningrad Region, the issues of the possibility of introducing automated information systems for the organization of taxation, valuation of real estate and land, as well as planning and development of territories, implementation of investment projects and development of regional infrastructure were discussed.
In 2021, a partnership was established at the municipal level with the cities of the Republic of Moldova – on April 30, 2021, as part of the solemn events on the occasion of the National Flag Day of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Days of the Republic of Moldova in St. Petersburg (Tavrichesky Palace), an agreement was signed on the establishment of twinning relations between the Council of Deputies of the municipality «City of Gatchina» of the Gatchina Municipal District of the Leningrad Region (Russian Federation) and the city of Chisinau and an Agreement on the establishment of twinning relations between the administration of the municipality «Shlisselburg Urban Settlement» of the Kirov Municipal District of the Leningrad Region (Russian Federation) and the city of Orhei (Republic of Moldova).
It is planned to conclude framework agreements on cooperation of the Leningrad Region with the Tashkent and Bukhara regions of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Zhambyl region of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Chui region of the Kyrgyz Republic.
An important part of the work with the CIS member states is the holding of events to promote Russian culture abroad.
In 2020, the implementation of the library project «Russia – Kazakhstan: open reading without borders», the participants of which are Leningrad Regional Children«s Library and the East Kazakhstan Regional Library named after Alexander Pushkin in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Republic of Kazakhstan. The goal of the project is to support a child«s access to modern national literature, develop a dialogue between two cultures, find ways of cooperation and partnership between Russian and Kazakh libraries to create a cultural and informational environment for children.
An unconditional priority in building external relations of the Leningrad Region is the activity to preserve the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War. On a regular basis, commemorative and memorial events and patriotic actions are held with the participation of foreign partners, representatives of consular institutions, and public associations.
Within visits of foreign delegations to the Leningrad Region and visits of delegations of the Leningrad Region abroad, the following visits to memorial sites connected with the events of the Great Patriotic War and the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazism were organized:
- the solemn ceremony «Relay of the eternal flame on the Road of Life» dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, in which veterans of the Great Patriotic War, the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region Sergey Bebenin, as well as representatives of the Cities of Military Glory, 41 representatives of consular offices from 24 foreign countries, representatives of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in Saint Petersburg took part. Participants of the event on September 3, 2020 laid flowers at the Broken Ring memorial in the Vsevolozhsk District of the Leningrad Region;
- on July 29, 2020, as part of an international event «For the glory of the common Victory» in a solemn atmosphere, in observance of military honors, the ritual of taking land from military graves was performed for subsequent transfer to the Memorial Church in the name of All Saints, located in the city of Minsk (Republic of Belarus). The event was attended by the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region Sergey Bebenin, head of the department of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg Igor Zalomai;
- the solemn ceremony of laying flowers at the stele «City of Military Glory» in the city of Luga, Leningrad Region, during the visit of the delegation of the Republic of Belarus to the Leningrad Region headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Snopkov in October, 2020;
- the solemn ceremony of laying flowers at the bust of the Hero of the Soviet Union Sultan Baimagambetov in the city of Kirovsk, Leningrad Region. The ceremony was attended by the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation Ermek Kosherbayev;
- the opening ceremony of the granite monument commemorating the feat of Kazakhstani soldiers of the 314th Rifle Division as part of the implementation of the international historical and patriotic project «Batyrlar Zholymen-the Road of Glory» (On May 5, 2021, the city of Lodeynoye Pole, Leningrad Region).
Since March 2020, in connection with the restrictive measures introduced in order to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus infection in foreign countries and on the territory of the Russian Federation, the Administration of the Leningrad Region, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, has provided assistance in the implementation of measures taken by authorized state bodies on transport of Russian citizens living on the territory of the Leningrad Region from abroad.