MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – Crimean authorities are planning to dismantle port infrastructure in the two ancient Black Sea cities of Evpatoria and Feodosia to make them more attractive to tourists, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev said Thursday.
Temirgaliev, an ethnic Tatar, told RIA Novosti in an interview on Thursday the two cities could see their freight turnover gradually scaled back.
“The reason is that these ports have grown obsolete and are effectively located within the city limit – and this is despite Feodosia and Evpatoria being resort cities that attract quite a lot of visitors annually,” the Crimean official said.
He said that busy shipping lanes along the cities’ sprawling sand beaches are an eyesore and have prevented the resorts from reaching their full potential.
“That’s why we decided to shift most of the infrastructure to other port cities, such as Sevastopol and Kerch,” Temirgaliev said, adding that Feodosia and Evpatoria could focus more on cruise tourism.
He emphasized that plans to turn these two Black Sea ports into resorts would be implemented gradually over a very long span of time after government approval.
The Crimean authorities also pledged financial support to those who would be affected by the reform.
“Freight and workforce will be gradually shifted to other ports, and those port workers who won’t go for their own private reasons … will be offered re-qualification programs and guaranteed jobs, while their social benefits and pensions will be paid in full,” Temirgaliev noted.
Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government in Kiev, which seized power as a result of a coup in February, instead rejoining Russia after a referendum that saw over 96 percent of voters in the region back the motion to leave Ukraine.
Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which has a special status within the region, became subjects of the Russian Federation on March 21 after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed reunification documents into law.
Russia has repeatedly said that Ukrainian nationalists and the government’s attempts to forcefully assimilate the Russian-speaking minority bore full responsibility for the civil crisis in the country.