Saturday, December 01, 2012

Moscow and Saint Petersburg in year 2008

Dear Colleagues

Your writer was in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg Russia in early September 2008 for face-to-face business development communications. The first visit to Moscow was in winter 1976 through an United Nations scholarship on professional educational opportunity.

After a long period of 32 years, it was a real shock for your writer to witness the tremendous change in the daily life. Surprisingly some issues still are not yet changed in the local minds and attitudes.

It is your writer's sincere feeling that our northern neighbor is not communist any more. Russia is not "Soviet Union" any more. Russians are not "Comrade/ Tawarish" but business people. They are now trying their best to pretend purely capitalist in mind, more self oriented. Furthermore they look like a bit oil rich Arab country, in a different climate, with more trimmed and proud of their intellectual capability, historical and cultural heritage.

There are lots of SUVs, Jeeps, BMWs, Audi's on the road. We are told that they stopped to fabricate Volga, Zil, Lada cars, since better cars are manufactured by others. They have enormous amount of energy resources, so they produce oil and gas. Their famous subway system is still in good condition although all types of infrastructure needs huge amount of resources for upgrading.

Moscow streets are full of lovely beautiful young ladies on high heels, all with ipods and cellular phones, and handsome sportive looking young local businessmen with laptop PC bags and again with cellular phones in nonstop talking, all seem confident in their own future.

They have all sorts of consumer goods in their new supermarkets/ or so to speak in their superstores. They have all international brand stores, luxury goods for those who can spend.

Vodka is out, beer is in. Bolshoy Opera/ Ballet House was in renovation but all seven (7) other opera houses were in use. We had the opportunity to see one extraordinary ballet, at 150 US Dollar per seat - per ticket on last rear row.

In the private/ and legal exchange booths 1 US Dollar is approximately 25 Rubles. Entrance to Kremlin Square costs you 550 Rubles, daily tour in Tretiakov Gallery costs 300 Rubles, daily tour in Hermitage museum costs 500 Rubles, one metro ride costs 19 Rubles, one fast food big menu in McDonalds or KFC cost you 200 Rubles. Boat tour in Neva River or in Moscow Channel will cost you 400-500 Rubles as of  2008.

Russian people are generally sincere, helpful in nature in their private lives; however it is my sincere feeling that their service sector is almost in complete disaster. Their service people are still too slow, also rude, arrogant, they need life long training for better service.

In order to overcome communication barriers in doing business, you must learn Russian. Hence you can also communicate with beautiful daughters of Pushkin and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and break ice in your communication. Please do note that every educated intellectual Turkish man traditionally looks for his own Vera Tulyakova since Nazim Hikmet.

There are great opportunities to make more business in Russia. There are many projects to demolish the old Khrushchev era poor housing units and rebuild new luxury residences, better housing complexes. There are investment plans for new thermal power plants gas and/or coal fired. Their local companies can not satisfy/ fulfill all these new investment plans.

At this time Turkish Contractors Enka, Tekfen and Gama are in Moscow, and newcomer Renaissance Construction Company is in Saint Petersburg with many construction orders surpassing 30 billion US Dollar equivalent as of year 2008. (Ref. DEIK, Ministry of Foreign Trade)

There are five Turkish commercial banks operating in Moscow, and the total amount of direct investment is around $2 billion, including some portfolio investments. Turkish companies such as Enka, Sisecam, Zorlu, Beko and Efes have high portfolio shares in the Russian market. (Ref. Ministry of Foreign Trade)

By the year 2008 we will be purchasing almost 30 billion standard cubic meters of naturalgas from Russia. Energy will continue to play a major role in relations between our countries.

Turkish companies should move to more specialized high-tech engineering scopes other than simple ground laying, foundations, and mechanical installations.

In these difficult times of financial crisis, Lehman Bros and Merrill Lynch on the Wall Street, overseas international markets are too far away and too risky. There is no point to try to please those far away overseas clients with so minimum outcome, rather than leaving the closer market at our north. We have a great market at a very close distance to our land at our north and all we have to do is to be more close to that market and satisfy their market needs.

On the other hand ongoing nearby Georgia nor Syria problem are not our conflict. There is no gain, nor any interest in our involvement. Pipeline operations will have ups and downs in such mega project, which is the obvious nature of such operation. We should stay firm on our positions and get no involvement whatsoever.

Turkey is uniquely positioned as a bridge between the East and West at a crucial time for the European Union and the world in general. 

The primary objectives of Turkish foreign policy are to establish and to develop friendly relations with all countries, non-interferance into internal affairs, in particular with neighboring ones; to promote and to take part in regional and international cooperation; to resolve disputes through peaceful means and to contribute to regional peace, stability, security and prosperity. (Ref. Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Russia, whose relations with Turkey date back centuries, has always been an important neighbor. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Russian Federation marked a new phase in Turkish-Russian relations. Both countries share the aim of working towards the enhancement of peace, stability and economic well-being in the region.

Currently, good neighborliness, mutual trust, friendship and cooperation form the basis of Turkish-Russian relations, which Turkey seeks to further develop to serve the mutual interests of both countries. Concrete results of our cooperation can be seen in the energy and economic fields. Your comments are always welcome

*Haluk Direskeneli is a graduate of the METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, U.S. and Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in the fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant and energy analyst with thermal power plant basic and detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of the Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.


Blogger Edward Dowdell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:35 PM  
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