President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear colleagues.
We are meeting here in Kazan firstly in order to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of this city that has a unique place in Russian history. This is a city that has long since become the symbol of Russia’s many peoples and religions, the richness of its culture and the diversity of its ways of life.
Secondly, we are here in order to take stock of the State Council’s work over these last five years and discuss the outlook for its future activities.
Kazan is an excellent example of the socio-cultural unity that binds together all the peoples of Russia and its anniversary is unquestionably a significant event for the entire country and gives us the opportunity to draw many valuable conclusions for modern Russia’s political development and social and economic life.
The State Council meeting is the first in a whole series of events celebrating the 1000th anniversary of Kazan and I would above all like to congratulate you sincerely on this occasion.
Let us return to the main subject of our meeting today – the State Council’s work and its place and role among Russia’s political institutions.
We all remember what debate took place on this point and how many sceptical predictions were made. But now we have every justification to say that they did not prove correct.
The State Council has proven itself to be one the country’s most influential state and political institutions. Not only has it become a forum for dialogue between the federal and regional authorities,; it is also a national forum for discussing the most pressing domestic and foreign policy issues and important matters of state and economic development. Here, we have looked for answers to the global challenges of these times and have set the direction for our country’s development.
It would be no exaggeration to call the State Council today a sort of “expanded government” able to find national, broad-based solutions to the most complex problems.
I would like to thank you for your active work and to emphasise that the State Council’s significance as a connecting link in the state power system will increase. I propose that we discuss today several areas for our future work.
The first area is improving federal relations. Now that we all feel confidence in our state’s strength and durability, we have the real opportunity to increase the role and independence of the regions.
This, of course, is not something that can be done overnight, but is a task for the long term that can be effectively resolved only if we achieve consolidation of all the state authorities and clearly set and define our common aims, action and the goals we want to reach.
It is clear that the state authorities who are closest to the people, namely the regional and local authorities, should have ample freedom of initiative and enough resources of their own to effectively deal with the problems their regions face.
The second area of our work is to develop genuinely innovative and strategic ideas that would open up new prospects for the country and unite our society.
This, of course, requires us to develop qualitatively new approaches to ensuring the State Council’s work. This concerns, above all, developing the information and analytical aspect of our work. We need to organise active cooperation with authoritative research centres and with civil society institutions, in particular with the Public Council that is currently being established.
We should put in place a system for ongoing monitoring and control of enforcement of the State Council’s decisions.
The State Council takes a responsible, interested and result-oriented approach to all the issues it deals with. It is impossible to imagine our country’s political system today without the work of this distinguished and authoritative body.