President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues,
This traditional meeting gives us the opportunity to hold fresh consultations on key domestic and foreign policy issues. As you know, I also met a few days ago with the State Duma faction leaders. Today, I would like to discuss future legislative priorities, plans for developing federal and inter-budgetary relations and, of course, joint work to implement the national projects.
At our meeting at the end of last year, we discussed issues that have now been made state policy priorities. Our discussion then focused on democratic development, and this became one of the key themes of the Annual Presidential Address this year.
I note the Federation Council’s active work during the last parliamentary session. As a result, a considerable number of laws have been passed that develop and strengthen Russia’s legislative foundation. It is important that the members of the Federation Council are working on the draft laws right from the earliest stages and interact directly with the relevant State Duma committees. There is no doubt that this raises the quality of the legislative process.
Monitoring of federal legislation is of great importance in systematising the whole body of legislation we have. The Federation Council has been carrying out this work for the second year now and it is becoming all the more needed. This was your initiative, and I remember it. This work is useful and is progressing very well.
I think we need to pay particular attention right now to immigration legislation. Legislation in this area should correspond to basic international standards and at the same time should ensure precise control over immigration flows and help us to develop a civilised labour market in Russia.
As you know, a special programme has been approved that aims at helping Russians living abroad resettle in Russia. It is clear that this programme’s implementation should be based on specific regions and their demands for labour resources and qualified specialists. I ask you to take an active part in implementing these measures in the regions.
I want to stress right from the outset that our objective is not to have all Russians resettle in Russia at any price. Those of our compatriots who have chosen to reside permanently in their second homelands, in the former Soviet republics, have made their own choice. If this is their choice, then our objective is different, namely, to ensure that wherever our compatriots are living or wish to live today, wherever their children plan to live, they will be able to offer their children a decent future and will not encounter problems of any sort that restrict their rights and freedoms. We need to ensure that they will be able to meet freely with their relatives and friends in Russia and develop their culture and our Russian language. As for those who wish to return to Russia, we must provide them with this right. The objective of the work we will carry out is to help give people the choice.
Today, the approval of the 2007 budget is an issue of particular importance. We know that the members of the Federation Council are taking an interested and professional approach to this work. We know that you have held consultations with the Government, the State Duma, and representatives of the regions and civil society organisations. It is very important that the budget – a fundamental document for the country – be approved by the end of the current parliamentary session.
The Federation Council will also be working on a number of other important draft laws such as the Law on Municipal Service, Part Four of the State Civil Code, the Law on State Benefits for Citizens with Children, the Law on Science and State Science and Technology Policy, the Law on Military-Technical Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Foreign Countries, and other laws.
I thank you for your attention and I hope that today’s consultations will give us the chance to discuss all of these issues, and not just the issues I have mentioned as priority areas now, but also any other problems that you consider important for our cooperation and our work together.