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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
I'll start by wishing you a happy New Year. The outgoing year, as the previous years, was not easy for our country, but overall, we have achieved some good results. I want to say it here, in the presence of the Prime Minister and members of the Russian Government, because that Government is responsible for our country’s socioeconomic development.
The results are as follows: unlike a large group of developed economies, we have shown substantial growth. The gross domestic product figure may not be fantastic but it is significantly higher than the figures achieved this year by the developed European countries and the United States. It is about 4%.
Another important economic indicator is inflation. I would like to congratulate all of you, and indeed congratulate our country and our people on achieving an unprecedented low level of inflation for the first time in Russian history. That figure is about 6%, or a bit over 6%; it is a figure we would have found incredible just a few years ago. Nevertheless, we have achieved it, and we know that it is a stable trend and not just a reflection of the people’s mood, especially in the context of global financial instability. So I think that in terms of macroeconomic indicators the Government has done excellent work.
Finally, unemployment is a key indicator and one that perhaps most accurately reflects social wellbeing. We have reached an unprecedented low level of unemployment, especially when compared with other states. This is also the result of coordinated efforts at all levels of authority, the executive branch as a whole and the Government, which is the most important body of executive power in our country. Even if we look only at these three main indicators, I believe 2011 was a successful year.
“I hope that in the coming months – and these will be difficult months because we have a complicated political calendar that includes the presidential elections – the Government will work smoothly, promptly, scrupulously, if you will, as it has done in recent years.”
I would like to thank all members of the Russian Government for your hard work in very difficult conditions. I am referring to the volatility in global financial markets and our domestic problems, of which there are still quite a few and to which we will dedicate our efforts in the near term. The future Government will have to pay significant attention to these issues, as I said in my Address to the Federal Assembly not so long ago.
We will conduct our work in new conditions. Russia has completed the negotiations on the entry into the World Trade Organisation. I would also like to thank all members of the Russian Government who contributed to this process because, even knowing that this will present certain ordeals as well as benefits for our country and its economy, yet ultimately the membership in the World Trade Organisation creates an entirely new environment for the improvement of our economy’s competitiveness, which will help our companies to stand on a par with their foreign competitors and will give us much better economic results.
Another achievement of this year is the launch of the Customs Union, and the Eurasian Economic Space will come into operation on January 1, 2012. By 2015, we are planning to establish a Eurasian Economic Union. Therefore, we will have a new business environment, which will also expand the boundaries of our market and create more jobs, contribute to an increase in trade, which has already occurred in the period since the Customs Union was established, both as regards relations with Belarus and with Kazakhstan, and, ultimately improve the general economic conditions in our countries.
There are many problems. First of all, I will name the investment climate, which, in my view, requires a fundamental improvement. Our efforts have not been a success so far, and this is a task for the future. There are bureaucratic problems. Corruption remains a central concern of the state, which we will fight using the most comprehensive methods.
All of this will become the substance for our work in the future. I hope that in the coming months – and these will be difficult months because we have a complicated political calendar that includes the presidential elections – the Government will work smoothly, promptly, scrupulously, if you will, as it has done in recent years.
I would like to thank all the members of the Government present here for our cooperation because we have been working as a team for nearly four years. These were very difficult years for our country but – and I say this very frankly and openly – I think that the Government has stood the test and that as a result of our teamwork we were able to overcome the effects of the global financial crisis, which began in 2008.
More difficult tests lie ahead but I am confident that we have the energy and capabilities to tackle them successfully.
Once again, I would like to sincerely thank all of you for your hard work, to wish you and your families good health in the coming year and success to all of us because we will need it as our country requires a great deal of attention.
Happy New Year to all of you!