President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed colleagues,
On our agenda there is a series of questions connected with implementing state border policies. We have already examined these questions at a special meeting of the Security Council in November 2000.
Today we will evaluate what we have been able to do in this time, and determine priorities for the future.
I want to stress: the main goal of border policies in Russia is effective national security. At the same time, these policies should assist the integration of our country into the international community, and the development of friendly relations with our neighbours. And of course, to correspond fully to modern approaches to rights and freedoms of citizens.
I would like to note that in recent years serious steps have been taken to increase the level of border security in Russia. The necessary structural changes have been made in the system of border bodies. Primarily, in transferring functions of state border protection to the Federal Security Service.
This decision was designed to optimize administration, more effective coordination of the actions of power bodies and to strengthen the operational component in the activity of border bodies.
Positive progress, even if not very large, has been noted in the system of letting goods and cargo through border points.
Together with Kazakhstan colleagues, we are properly organizing the Russian-Kazakhstan border.
I would also like to mention the Conception of Border Cooperation passed by Parliament. This document stipulates the active development of economic and humanitarian ties with our neighbours. It opens new possibilities for business activity in border regions.
Furthermore, in March this year the Conception of regulating immigration processes was passed, and the program of action for fulfilling it was confirmed. All these things are important steps in forming a modern normative legal base. A base that will make it possible to reach a civilized solution of immigration problems, and also to give a fundamentally new appearance to the border.
At the same time, attention should be given to the following fundamental aspects.
First, it is the actual strategy of guarding and protecting the state border.
The main approach here is to reduce the military component and move to an efficient military method of protecting our border with maximum use of modern technical capabilities. It is clear that the main threats on the Russian border today are trans-border crime, illegal drug traffic and illegal immigration. And to combat these essentially non-military threats, it is not necessary to maintain superfluous military units.
Of course, this does not mean, and cannot mean, abandoning the military component. In those areas where there is a real danger of terrorist infiltration, it even needs to be increased.
On the whole, we need a differentiated formation of border groupings – depending on the situation in specific areas of the border and the nature of probable threats to the country’s security.
Second, the task of organizing the border according to modern requirements remains relevant. And, above all, providing it with new technical equipment.
Here I count on active work by the recently created State border commission headed by Mikhail Kasyanov. Furthermore, the Government needs to speed up work on the special federal programme to organize the border. Of course, without any damage to the quality of the document.
And most importantly, behind the formula “the development of border infrastructure” we should above all see people – those who protect our borders, and those who live on the border.
I am not even talking about people who visit our country and judge Russia to a significant degree by how they are met and seen off at the border.
I believe that it we also need to use our capabilities more actively in international and regional unions and organizations, above all in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. The success of organizing borders depends in many ways on our joint work.
Third, there is the foreign policy aspects of border policies.
For over 10 years we have been working on delimitation and international legal registration of the Russian border. For a final decision on problems in this sphere, the Internal Ministry and law-enforcement departments must increase the discussion process and hold constructive talks, firmly upholding our national interests.
And last of all. Practice shows that the activity of border structures is impossible without support from power bodies of border regions. And I would like to appeal to the heads of subjects of the Federation, and also to Presidential representatives, to pay serious, heightened attention to these issues. For many regions, border policies are a new factor. They only became border regions recently, but this is very important area.
In the draft resolution for today’s meeting, we have determined the main areas of work to improve the system of border security. I propose to begin discussion of them.