By Mohd Iswandi Kasan Anuar
VLADIVOSTOK, Sept 6 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has described his participation in the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) here as very fruitful, bringing on closer cooperation with countries located in the Far East, especially Russia.
Attending the forum for the first time at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dr Mahathir said he was delighted and impressed with the initiatives taken by Putin to develop Russia’ eastern provinces.
The 94-year-old Prime Minister who arrived at the port city here in Russia’s Far East on Wednesday was given an exceptionally warm welcome at the meet with participants giving him a thunderous round of applause as he walked to the rostrum to deliver his address.
At the plenary session, a key event of the forum, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia had been under the impression that Russia was not paying enough attention to its Far East territories.
“But now we see that the interest is very real and to us, this may mean the opening of a new market for Malaysia,” he said.
With Russian participation in the development of the Far East, he believed people residing in the Far East especially and Asia generally, would benefit from the development activities.
He expressed confidence that Malaysian investors will be flocking to Vladivostok if the economic situation in the province is attractive enough.
Located at Russia’s borders with China and North Korea, Vladivostok is a fast-growing city which serves as the administrative centre of Primorsky Krai region under the Far Eastern Federal District.
Putin is said to have designated the development of the Far East as a national priority of the entire 21st century.
The Kremlin is developing a whole new economy in the region where large companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, could count on tax breaks, concessional loans and support from the state development institutions.
Elaborating on bilateral relations between the two countries, Dr Mahathir said ties between Malaysia and Russia have always been good, adding that, he covered a lot of areas where both countries could work together.
“I can see only benefit from our closer relationship,” he said.