Vladimir Putin: Good morning.
We have many important issues on our agenda, and these include the military doctrine of the Russian Federation and the development of the aviation industry.
To begin, a couple of words on the first issue. As you are aware, we are presently following the military doctrine which came into effect by decree of the president of the Russian Federation in 1993. Since then much has changed; the world has changed and the country we live in has changed. The situation in the CIS countries has changed. We have been confronted with new threats. Other countries have changed their military doctrines.
We should redefine the main areas and priorities of military development in Russia for the near future.
As you know, what is happening in the North Caucasus concerns not only our own country. We are aware of the threats facing our country and other former Soviet republics, especially the countries in the south of the CIS. We are aware of the problems facing Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. We cannot and must not ignore any of them.
Moreover, we are aware of the changes in the military strategy of the West and the NATO countries. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has expanded its sphere of influence. We have seen that NATO has the ability and the right to make decisions without the approval of the United Nations Security Council.
All these are new factors that we cannot afford to ignore. We should not just stand idly by; we should react appropriately and make sure we are prepared for the future. We should not be caught off guard today or in the future. This is the range of issues we will consider in the first part.
I am sure all of you will agree with me about the second issue on our agenda. We have always been proud of our aviation industry and the men and women who work in it. It is a high technology sector in which the Soviet Union and Russia have often been ahead of the rest of the world. Today our fleet of civil aircraft is outdated and no longer reflects our potential, so much so as to give cause for alarm. For instance, 70% of our civil aircraft have been in service for more than 10 years. There are at least as many problems in military aviation. I think that if we do not want to remain a country which depends solely on its raw materials, which exploits and exports only its natural resources – oil, gas and other minerals – it is our duty to develop high-tech sectors, sectors where we have every chance not only to compete, but to make great strides and thrive. And that, of course, should include the aviation sector.