President Vladimir Putin: Generals and Officers,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here on this occasion at the Kremlin today.
Representatives of all of Russia’s Armed Forces and security agencies are present today in this hall. In your various areas you all work with honour and conscientiousness to ensure our country’s security. The state greatly appreciates this work you perform, work that is not easy and comes with great responsibility, and values your personal qualities and merits.
I offer you my sincere congratulations on your new ranks and posts and I wish you continued success in serving Russia.
Russia is consistent in its calls for the international community to unite and create a global security system. Our country is ready for dialogue and cooperation with anyone interested in creating effective mechanisms based on international law to maintain stability throughout the world.
At the same time, however, we cannot help but notice the continued attempts to resolve disputes between states by use of force. Conflicts between states, terrorism, the escalation of local conflicts, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction all continue to threaten our world today.
All of this demands constant work to improve our country’s military organisation, including through maintaining our nuclear deterrent forces at a high level of combat readiness.
Equipping our army and navy with modern weapons is one of our biggest priorities. The State Arms Procurement Programme for the period through to 2015 allocates five trillion roubles to this work. A large part of this money will be spent on cutting-edge new models of weapons and military equipment and on developing research and development and the defence industry in general.
I want to emphasise that our goal is to integrate the defence industry more closely into the civilian sector of the economy, above all, in the high-technology sectors.
We will be paying particular attention to combat training and preparedness. Large-scale training exercises, missile launches, and long-distance sea voyages will become a regular part of our Armed Forces’ life.
One of our most urgent priorities is to provide greater social protection for our officers. As over recent years, we will continue to ensure that wages increase. We hope to fully resolve the issue of providing permanent housing by 2010, and of providing service housing for military servicemen by 2012.
It is also important to continue to democratise the Armed Forces and raise their authority in the eyes of the public. The Defence Ministry’s Public Council has been created as a mechanism for ensuring civilian control over the military, and I hope that other agencies in which, under the law, military service can be carried out, will also make use of this experience.
The Federal Security Service [FSB] has worked effectively over this period. We had a detailed discussion on its growing potential for carrying out its missions at the FSB Collegium’s meeting at the end of January.
Among the most visible achievements, I note the creation of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee. This committee’s work has improved coordination between the agencies responsible for combating terrorism and has given hundreds of people lured into illegal armed groups the chance to return to peaceful life.
A task of particular importance for the FSB this year will be ensuring security during elections to the State Duma and regional legislative assemblies. It is important to make sure that the election campaigns remain free of nationalist and extremist slogans.
The Federal Protection Service has always been distinguished by its high level of professionalism. I hope that you will continue to perform your duties just as well, including during the upcoming Russia-European Union summit.
Growing tension in some parts of the world increases the demand on the Foreign Intelligence Service to provide rapid information and quality analytical reports. Russia must always be able to make an adequate and rapid response to unexpected challenges and threats from outside.
Law and order in society and reliable protection of our citizens’ rights and security are essential conditions for our country’s stable development. The Interior Ministry plays a key part in ensuring these conditions.
The Interior Ministry has achieved good results in a number of areas, but people are looking to you for even higher-quality work, in particular in combating organised crime and corruption.
It is also essential to ensure more reliable protection of intellectual property rights. Shortcomings in this area have a negative impact on Russia’s image abroad.
Crime prevention work, especially among minors, is an area that needs urgent attention. This subject was the leitmotiv of discussions at the National Law Enforcement Agencies’ Coordinating Council meeting last November, as you will recall.
The new laws on migration that have just taken effect increase the demands for quality work from the Federal Migration Service. The new laws aim at legalising labour migration and protecting the rights of people who wish to work legally in Russia. This, in turn, will ease tension on the labour market and make it more civilised.
The Emergency Situations Ministry has very important tasks before it, most important of all, the ongoing work to strengthen the unified emergency situation warning and cleanup system. Reform of the fire service and civil defence troops is also on the agenda. By January 1, 2009, military service in the Emergency Situations Ministry will be replaced by civilian and law enforcement service.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate all of you once again on your new appointments and promotions. I am sure that you will measure up to the confidence placed in you and will achieve even greater success in your service for the good of our country.
I wish you health and success.