Tue, Jan 24, 2017 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Russia representative touts close ties

In an interview with ‘Taipei Times’ reporter Stacy Hsu, Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation Representative Dmitrii Polianskii, who assumed the Taipei post in January last year, expressed the hope that ties between Russians and Taiwanese would become closer, saying that both sides have a lot to offer each other

Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation Representative Dmitrii Polianskii gestures during an interview with the Taipei Times on Nov. 28 last year in Taipei.

Photo: Stacy Hsu, Taipei Times

Taipei Times (TT): Taiwanese generally have a poor knowledge of Russia. After serving as Moscow’s representative to Taipei for nearly a year, how do you propose to improve this?

Dmitrii Polianskii: Actually, in today’s world it is not a problem to get information about a certain country. Twenty years ago people were supposed to go to a library to learn something before traveling to a certain place. Now there are a lot of online resources and our small world has become much closer.

I think it is a two-way street. It is impossible to impose something on someone who has absolutely no interest in Russia. I feel that there is a growing attention toward my country in Taiwan, but most Taiwanese still think Russia is very far, logistics are very complicated and therefore rule out a trip to Russia or business cooperation with partners there.

Actually, this is not the case. Vladivostok, the biggest port in far eastern Russia, is only a four hour flight from Taipei — slightly farther than Seoul or Tokyo. Even Moscow and St Petersburg are only about 10 hours away — closer than any other European city. There aren’t any regular direct flights for the moment [only summer charter flights], but the connections are quite convenient and smooth.

Some people are even a little scared to go to such a big and virtually unknown country. A lot of things said about Russia in the media and published on the Internet are not true or not entirely correct. The reasons for that can vary from ignorance to intentional manipulation. To get a more or less unbiased picture of what is happening, people have to analyze different resources.

For those who are interested, we can provide any information or assistance. My colleagues and I try to meet as many people as we can — students, businessmen, artists and others, attend different presentations and seminars. We have a lot of information in English and Chinese at our Web site [www.mtc.org.tw], which we are going to upgrade soon, and on Facebook [www.facebook.com/mtcintaipei]. I am personally open to any questions about Russia — my twitter account [@taiwan_rus] is at your service. I consider that people-to-people contact is the best way to know each other and I have already made a lot of friends in Taiwan.

TT: The application process for a tourist visa to Russia is considered relatively costly and inconvenient. Do you have any plans to streamline the process to further boost the number of Taiwanese tourists to Moscow?

Polianskii: We do have plans to explore visa flexibility to make travel to Russia easier for tourists, students and businessmen. At the same time, even if you need to pay for a visa to Russia the overall cost of a journey there is quite reasonable and it is not complicated, especially for tourists applying through travel agencies.

In my opinion, if more Taiwanese tourists apply for visas to Russia it would be easier to promote visa facilitation schemes. Such an interest will also hopefully motivate airlines to launch direct flights to Russia. My contacts in major Russian airports indicate that Taiwanese carriers would be very welcome. Moscow is well-linked to most European airports so a connection there to some other destination could be very convenient.

TT: You mentioned in the No. 19 issue of the ‘Taiwan-Russia Magazine’ published a few months ago that you feel the interactions between Taipei and Moscow in economic, technological and scientific fields remain quite modest. How do you propose to increase our bilateral interaction or cooperation in these areas?

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