Vladimir Putin: Mr Federal Chancellor,
Mr von Pirer,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am grateful for your invitation to take part in this event. First, because in our country the Siemens trademark has long been a byword for the highest quality and the highest reliability. The second reason is the success story of the concern, which is intimately connected with Russia. That is interesting in itself and it speaks volumes.
A century and a half ago the young company Siemens und Halske, faced with serious problems in Germany, decided to develop new markets. But that was a long time ago and let us not dwell on those problems. The decision made at the time had proved to be absolutely right. Russia became its most important market. That choice has been fully vindicated over time. Russian projects have helped the company to stand on its feet. The Federal Chancellor has just recounted that story. In the early years the firm carried out projects that are impressive even by today’s standards: it built almost 10,000 km of telegraph lines.
For 150 years now the concern has been supplying high technology equipment and setting up production of such equipment in our country.
A great deal has been achieved in the past 10 years, but I think more could have been done. We have investments and joint projects, but still, I think much more could have been done.
If we look at the company’s annual turnover and Russia’s share in it, you will see that it is a very small part. It is absolutely not enough. True, there are some positive trends. The concern’s business in Russia increased by 54% during the past year. It is a very good trend and I hope it will continue.
Russia and Germany today have everything that is necessary for a breakthrough in the business sphere, above all in the sphere of production cooperation. Economic reforms in our country are gathering momentum, and that means the Russian market will become more attractive. I can tell you today that the Government will unveil its plans for a tax reform at the end of this month, and this will involve steps towards liberalizing and streamlining our tax legislation and easing the tax burden. A three-year programme in this sphere has been prepared. In other words, we hope that by that time the situation in the Russian economy will be more stable and more transparent.
I would like to stress that we will render every support to such solid and reliable partners as Siemens, whose activities set a good example for those who have not yet decided to enter the Russian market.
I think many German businessmen will confirm that today you can do serious business in Russia without excessive risks and make good profits.
The Russian Government has already done much towards this end. I would like to single out the substantial tax cuts, which I have already mentioned, and better legal protection for investors.
Russia has vast resources, a large market and skilled manpower. We have no shortage of promising mutually beneficial projects, including hi-tech projects.
We attach particular significance to the latter. We have agreed with the Federal Chancellor that we will discuss the promotion of our scientific and production cooperation at the next round of annual intergovernmental consultations to be held in Yekaterinburg in the autumn.
In conclusion I would like to say again that we welcome the expansion of Siemens operations in Russia. We support all your projects, in particular, the building of long-distance optical fiber communication lines, the creation of a service centre in Voronezh and your work on the North-Western Thermal Power Plant.
I wish you success in implementing these and other projects.
I congratulate you on the jubilee of your concern and would like to convey my warmest greetings to all you employees who work here in Russia.
I wish you all the best.