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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
St Petersburg views: Serge Ferri
St Petersburg residents originating from each of the G8 nations assess Russia's role as the city prepares to host the G8 summit.

ST PETERSBURG VIEWS
Serge Ferri
Name: Serge Ferri
Job: Chef, St Petersburg Novotel hotel
G8 country of origin: France
Judging by the order of admission to G8, Russia is number eight. But by other criteria, I would say it is number four or five.

In the past, the G7 made many important decisions concerning economic development, but doing that without Russia was not right, because Russia has a lot of energy resources - oil, gas.

I think such decisions should be made together with countries that possess natural resources.

Russia is different from G8 countries because of big discrepancies in living standards. Some people are very rich -and some very poor. This is not right.

Another thing is social security provided by the state. In Europe, the authorities work for the benefit of the people, while in Russia much has to be done in order that the authorities protect citizens.

For example, I can't understand why teachers and doctors have such low salaries. They are the most important people because they give everyone knowledge and health.

When in 1996 I told my friends that I was going to Russia, they opened their eyes very wide and said: "What are you going to do there? There is mafia, queues in shops, bears in the streets, -50C in winter."

But I said: "I've worked in Sri Lanka and Angola, so it can't be worse."

I don't feel any danger here. In fact, there is none at all. I've spent almost eight years in Russia, because there is so much to be done.

The market is quite large and opportunities are numerous. The hotel business is just developing, so it is great to launch new projects and share experience.




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