President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear colleagues!
We meet in this format almost regularly.
I remember that last year we met in the spring, just before the Address [to the Federal Assembly]. Today I would also like to talk about the whole range of our internal and international political issues, keeping in mind that the yearly Address to the Federal Assembly is in its final stages of preparation. I am very much counting on your suggestions and remarks that could eventually be implemented.
I would like to thank the State Duma for the teamwork in implementing the previous Address and, first and foremost, for establishing the necessary legal and financial bases for implementing the national projects. They are still in a preliminary stage but nevertheless work has already gone ahead. I expect that deputies will continue to supervise work in all of the areas we have designated priority ones.
We have done a great deal in order to continue establishing legal bases and democratic institutions in our country. A law that I consider very important, the law on parliamentary investigations, has been passed.
As far as I know, you are now examining the draft bill on handling messages from our citizens, something that I also consider very significant. I am referring to the necessity of limiting bureaucracy's negative influence on the democratic institutions development process.
A budget is to be accepted. It is always given detailed consideration, and is being accepted after a lot of discussions. This is the country's most important financial document and, as a matter of fact, it defines the development of the country's economy in the near future. Last year together we took a number of important decisions – I am referring not only to the national projects, but also to those decisions concerning the economy, decisions such as the one to provide the economy with innovative development methods. Together we made the decision to create special economic zones in Russia, first and foremost in the high-tech sphere. As you know, they are already starting to function now, and in partnership with the regions; we have already determined the necessary sites. I am also counting on your continuing support in this respect.
This is the range of issues which we could discuss today and we shall do this as we usually do. Of course, we shall also examine any issue that you consider pertinent for today's discussion. I propose that we talk not only about internal political issues, but also about the international agenda. I am referring to the G8 summit in St Petersburg in July of this year that will take place under our presidency.
You know which areas we designated priority ones. There are several of them – as a matter of fact there are three: energy security, the struggle against diseases, and education. It is natural that, first of all, the discussion concerning each of these issues has its own particularities and, secondly, that a meeting of the leaders of the G8 countries and visitors invited to participate in a given issue – and there will be many such visitors – will be a unique format. Such a format will give us the possibility to discuss any problem that our country considers topical both for itself and for the international community. I would also like to consult you on this issue. If you have any remarks or suggestions, it would be my pleasure to implement them during the meeting with our partners in July in St Petersburg.