Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues,
I have already spoken with many of you here today when we were working on the annual address to the Federal Assembly about what needs to be done to ensure that over this year we work effectively towards the goals that were set out in the address.
Present here today are the representatives of state bodies and public organisations that have a real impact on the processes underway in Russian society. As you know, I have invited you to this meeting so that we could work together on key issues for this country’s development.
These issues, as the country’s leadership sees them, as I, and the government see them, were set out in the annual address.
Just to remind you, these goals are to double the GDP, overcome poverty and modernise the Armed Forces. Of course, we also have many other tasks to tackle. I am referring here only to the key challenges, which, if not resolved, will prevent us from achieving effective development and remaining highly competitive in the world. These three challenges are clearly the supporting columns of our overall development and are interrelated.
The discussions that have taken place in the country have made it clear that today, different public and political groups have their own views and their own approaches and solutions to these problems and challenges. Some proposals differ only in the tactical details, while others are diametrically opposed in their approach. This is perfectly normal for an open and democratic society.
But at the same time we must not forget that a society that is splintered into small groups, each pursuing its own narrow interests, cannot consolidate around the implementation of major national projects, all the more so when it comes to such ambitious strategic goals as ours. And the goals we have set ourselves are really ambitious in scale.
I think that we need to take an overall view of Russia’s development prospects, looking clearly at the aims and taking into account the objective opportunities we have to achieve these aims. I want to stress this point.
It is unlikely that we will all completely agree on everything. But we must come to agreements on the main points and come up with a common position if we want to develop our country.
Once again I repeat that a serious and large-scale undertaking of this kind can only be done by working together, through consolidating the country’s leading political forces and uniting its intellectual resources.
I’d like to look in more detail at the issues that I propose we discuss today.
First, the ways, means and conditions that we need to intensify our economic development. Essentially, this is a question of the factors that we can use to ensure rapid and quality economic growth.
But increasing the nation’s GDP is more than just an economic task. Much here depends on efficient state management, on having qualified and professional civil servants, on developing federal relations and strengthening local government institutions.
This is a complex and multifaceted task and so it is only natural that no one can now come up with the single correct way of resolving it. But we do need to resolve this issue, and we need to look for effective solutions together through open discussion.
The main element that we should make use of is encouraging private initiative and entrepreneurship, and upgrading the professionalism of our managers, engineers and workers.
The second key component of our strategy is to overcome poverty. There is a direct relationship between the rate of economic growth and the reduction of poverty.
I want to stress here that unless we have economic freedom in this country and an effective social policy, we will not be able to achieve any of our strategic objectives. Nor will we be able to modernise the Armed Forces, since successful military reform also depends on the economic situation.
I firmly believe that if we are to successfully resolve problems of this scale, we must mobilise the country’s intellectual resources, and we also must involve different public groups, of course, those organisations that put national interests above their group, corporate or personal interests. Together, we must work towards dialogue, the pursuit of a common goal and cooperation in our actions.
I do not want to spend a long time talking today. On the contrary, I would like to ask each of you here today to speak up and present your views.
In conclusion I would like to say that in order to move ahead, coordinate our positions and listen to each other, we need some kind of working mechanisms. I propose that we use the results of our discussions today to create a compact working group that will plan how to practically implement tasks facing us.
I am counting on you to propose your experts and specialists to take part in this group’s work. The best thing would be to have people who can make specific recommendations.
Igor Shuvalov, a previously appointed presidential aide, will be the representative of the Presidential Executive Office in this group and will organise and coordinate its work.
I would now like to ask you to take the floor on this subject.
Thank you for your attention.