President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
I am sincerely happy to be with you. Today we are celebrating the sixth anniversary of the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, the signing of truly historic documents, without exaggeration – the agreement on the accession of Sevastopol and Crimea to the Russian Federation.
We all remember well those days of February and March 2014. We remember how the people here, in Sevastopol and Crimea, chose their future, how they spoke, how they thought and made decisions on how they would build their own lives, and the lives of their children.
Since that time, we have done a lot, although of course, not everything. In this regard, I would like to say that the project we are talking about today, the Crimean Bridge, designed and built by our best specialists and experts from around Russia, is definitely one of the most striking symbols of the reunification of Russia and Crimea.
But along with being a symbol, it is also a very important infrastructure facility, which, without any exaggeration, has made dreams come true – the dreams of many generations of subjects and citizens of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
I strongly hope that, once the bridge becomes fully operational, the situation in Crimea will continue to change for the better. It will help improve the conditions for the development of the local economy and the social sphere – there is no need to explain why: it will be easier and, I hope, cheaper to deliver goods here, it will be easier for people to get here from all over the vast territory of Russia, and it will make the lives of Crimeans and Sevastopol residents easier.
From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you. I am happy to present you with high state decorations. Indeed, the country is recognising your merits and your contribution to the development of the Russian state.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Friends,
To conclude the ceremony, I would like to say a few informal words.
I would like to thank you for the result achieved, as I said at the very beginning, but I especially want to thank you for the attitude your team developed during this work.
I spoke about this with Arkady Rotenberg and asked him several questions that may have been awkward, nevertheless, I had to ask. I asked, “Do you have any property abroad, real estate or other assets?” He said, “Well, I do business. I have a few things.” I said, “You know, you could lose it all.” His answer was very good: “Let them choke on it. What you entrust to us is much more important than these trifles.” I said, “You know, you may not be able to go abroad for many years.” “I do not care,” he said. “I have been everywhere I wanted to go, but our country is so big. I have not been to many places in Russia yet, so that does not bother me either.”
Why am I talking about this – because later I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak with my other colleagues who took part in the construction of this bridge. They all have almost the same attitude. Different people had different lives, financial situations, different fates, but the attitude was just that – they have a very important, in the fullest sense of the word, an important state task that needs to be tackled regardless of the direction their lives take. And this is one of the largest projects in the world without any exaggeration, both in terms of complexity and the amount of work.
Therefore, I would like to thank everyone for this determinedness to achieve the final result, whatever the cost to each one of you. I believe it is actually this attitude that led to the positive result that we are now celebrating.
I know how funding related discussions for the project proceeded, when at your meetings people were ready to give up their salaries, let alone profits – all they wanted was to do their job well and on time.
I must admit with certainty that few places, few countries have this atmosphere of taking on major construction projects. This is probably only typical of this country, of our people. I also remember how one of the participants in the ceremony told me when the first arch was put into place, “Only Russian people can do this.” You know it is difficult to argue with this. This is how it is.
I would like to congratulate you again and wish you all the best. I am sure you will build new large, powerful facilities that this country needs and will manage to fulfil yourselves, use your talents and abilities in carrying out such projects. I would also like to wish you all the best in your personal lives so you are healthy and happy.
Happy holiday to you, and today is certainly a holiday– the day when Crimea and Sevastopol reunited with Russia. Please convey my best wishes to your families.
Thank you very much.
One more small remark. We thought for a long time where to hold today’s ceremony, and we initially planned to do it at the Kremlin. However, we eventually decided to hold the event here, in Sevastopol, in Crimea, and I think we chose the best place. This place is a landmark in our history. It is linked with the battle glory of our Fatherland and symbolises the invincibility of Russian weaponry and the Russian spirit. I think the venue of today’s ceremony is appropriate for what we are celebrating.