Vladimir Putin: Hello, my dear friends! Isaenmisez! (Hello!)
I am glad that today we have the chance to participate in Russia's celebrations for Kazan's 1000 th anniversary together.
These are everyone's celebrations, and this is an event that takes place on a national scale. This is the anniversary of one of the most ancient centres of Eurasian civilization. This city contains unique historical monuments, and is famous for its university's tradition, its contemporary science, and its advanced products. Many generations of great educators, poets, academics, experts, heroes, and military leaders have grown up here.
I would like to emphasize a few things, and for this reason I will dare to utter some words in the Tatar language:
(a fragment in Tatar)
For those who are just starting to study Tatar, and therefore did not understand everything I said, I would like to reiterate one idea among those mentioned.
Kazan played a unique historical role in the creation of a united Russian nation, and in binding the Russian people together.
It is symbolic that one meaning of the city's name – the Turkic word “kazan” – is “pot”. I will not go into the details of the semantic dispute, but suffice to say that in Kazan's melting-pot, a unique fusion of languages, traditions, customs, and cultures of the peoples of Russia has taken place.
Volga Bulgaria – an advanced and prosperous state in the early Middle Ages – is considered to be the “cradle” of Kazan. Many Russian peoples of the Volga region have lived on this land. It was here that a unique “multiethnic, multireligious laboratory” developed over many centuries, and resulted in particular ways of life of this vast territtory.
The great Idel-Volga river, an ancient trading route, has connected peoples for many years. As history can testify, the ancestors of today's Tatars respected both the customs and the beliefs of their neighbours. The Tatar people, initially a mix of different Eurasian ethnic groups, have continued to embrace this tradition.
Everyone knows that historical relations between Moscow and the Tatar Khanate developed in different ways. However, even during the difficult periods and the conflicts, there was no ethnic or religious hostility. Rather, their relations were marked by struggles for influence over new territory – something that was very typical for the time.
And what is more, a number of domestic historians explicitly consider the history of the Golden Horde as part of Russia's history. Long before the creation of a centralised Russian state, there are many examples of political interaction between Russians and Tatars, both through their intensive trading relations, and their common interests. There are also testimonies of participation in each other's military endeavours; Russians fought on the side of Tatar khans, and Tatars served Muscovite rulers.
In practice, by simultaneously protecting themselves from foreign invaders, both Russians and the Volga region's khans frequently asserted their rights to their native lands together, and thus became more powerful.
This is also linked to the creation and strengthening of our common state. For Russia, who developed as a multinational country, integrating the rich heritage of the Volga region came naturally. Or, as Lev Gumilev put it, integrating: “the great culture of the steppe”. It is not by accident that there is a monument to him here.
In addition, Russian rulers realised that in order to build strong and lasting relations with the Khanate of Kazan, Russia had to become a Eurasian power.
Let me emphasise that Russia's role as a bridge between two civilizations is more visible here in the Volga region than anywhere else. It is here that all the complexities, and all the results of a centuries-old dialogue and the synthesis of the two richest cultures are particularly visible.
Subsequently, many features of the Russian state system, as well as the imperial political consciousness, were informed by relations with the Volga region's khans. The centralised Russian state drew on the Golden Horde's financial, military, tax, and administrative systems.
Without exaggeration, the principles of both national and religious tolerance became central to the formation of the Russian state. The peoples of the middle and lower Volga regions became part of Muscovy in the middle of the 16 th century, and this allowed it to become one of the largest and most influential states in the world.
The solidarity between the ethnicities of our state allowed it to overcome many trials, including the Time of Troubles at the beginning of the 17 th century. Kazan was one of the initiators of the second Home Guard that freed Moscow in 1612. At that time, there were letters from Kazan appealing to unite against the common enemy. Regiments left Kazan for the Livonian war and, later on, for the fronts of 1812 and of the Great Patriotic War.
The heroes of your renowned land will stand forever in the Hall of Fame of Russian military glory. Tatar regiments have been part of the Russian military structures since the beginning of the Russian state. Later on, their bravery and courage was rewarded with the possibility of serving in the guards.
I would like to note yet another thing. Historically, Kazan has played a huge role in the development of Russia's business life, and in the expansion of its economic and political influence. Suffice to say that Kazan's merchants, above all ethnic Tatars, were involved in original and progressive ways of promoting the Russian empire's domestic capital and political influence first inSiberia and then to Central Asia and Transcaucasia.
In Russia, different sets of traditions, languages, and cultures have always lived in harmony and resulted in mutual enrichment. This experience and advantage has been used to create a fundamentally new, federal Russian state.
Creating a federation is always a long and complex process. Every state must find mutually acceptable decisions and ways of overcoming conflicts of interests. Together, we managed to overcome the dangerous centrifugal tendencies that the disintegration of the Soviet Union provoked.
Let me add that all Russian regions have passed through a difficult stage of looking for and refining an ideal model. The development of relations between the federal centre and the subjects of the Federation has once again proved the strength and historical unity of the Russian multinational nation. This unity is based on genuine popular wisdom.
Here, I would like to point out the role of Tatarstan's leadership. During the difficult period at the beginning of the 1990's, they engaged in productive dialogue with the federal centre, and found the necessary formula to combine national and regional interests. Mintimer Sharipovich showed a great deal of wisdom at that time, and I would like to thank him for itWell done!
Despite stark contradictions within Tatarstan, it once again recognised and confirmed its indissoluble connection with the Russian state. During the years that followed, political stability, as well as religious and interethnic peace have reigned in Tatarstan. This is our common and, without any undue exaggeration, invaluable achievement.
It goes without saying that religious figures, both Muslim and Orthodox have, through their responsible actions and peacefulness, played an extremely important role.
Thanks to this concord, and of course through the efforts of the Tatarstan people today's Republic symbolises impressive successes, and makes an important contribution to the upsurge in social and economic development of our country.
If measured according to today's industrial production, Tatarstan is among the five most developed subjects of the Federation. It has one of Russia's highest levels of investment, and rates of housing construction. Hightech manufacturing is thriving, agriculture is developing, and the well-being of the population is growing. There is no doubt that the success of the people of Tatarstan will allow for the Republic's further development, and increased well-being of our huge Russia.
I would like to point out the work of the organizing committee, the authorities of Tatarstan, and the city in preparing this holiday. A large number of Russians and foreign citizens have been involved in preparing the festivities. In addition, influential organizations such as UNESCO and TURKSOI have also participated. Of course, we very much value the participation of our respected partners from the countries of the Commonwealth. Let us greet them, and thank them for being here with us.
The harmonious, collective efforts have had impressive results. First of all, they affect the city and its inhabitants. Much has been done to improve the inhabitants' quality of life, and for the development of the city's social and transport infrastructure. Thousands of people have moved into new apartments. An extremely modern bridge spans the two banks of the Kazanka river. Let alone the restoration of unique architectural monuments such as Kazan's kremlin and the Cathedral of the Annunciation, and the construction of the Kul Sharif mosque, where we were today. They are simply wonderful.
I will end my speech by remarking once again that the preservation of social, religious, and ethnic peace is the cornerstone of the arch, and fundamental condition for Russia's successful development.
Any attempt to destroy this is a challenge to our future, a threat to our sovereignty, and to the national security of our country.
In order to counteract nationalism and extremism, the state repeatedly leans on all subjects of the Federation, on society, and on elected and civil institutions. Living in harmony is the most reliable means to ensure that the public will be immune to all kinds of intolerance and separatism.
Certainly, Kazan's anniversary is a celebration for all of Russia. But, first and foremost, it is a celebration for the citizens of Kazan. All of our comings and goings have inconvenienced them to a certain extent. I can see the security measures that have been taken in the city. We ask you to forgive us and, with all my heart, I wish Kazan's citizens prosperity, peace, and well-being. Once again, it is with all my heart that I congratulate you on your holiday. Thank you very much.