President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to greet the heads of Russian, Spanish and Latin American universities here today. I am especially pleased to have this opportunity as I myself was at one time on the staff of a university. I have not yet forgotten what a university teacher’s duties involve, and what responsibilities fall on the shoulders of universities’ administrative staff.
Since the Middle Ages, universities have been centres of learning and culture. Their walls have given birth to great advances and discoveries, fundamental works, and important schools of research. Today, universities continue to perform this noble mission, so important for science and education. Universities produce the most important product of the education process – professionally trained people, build the foundations for the modern economy’s development, and create new knowledge.
We are very much aware that the current period is placing new demands on universities’ development. Education is changing, and this naturally creates the need to change many of the approaches towards its organisation. We started this work in Russia several years ago and are continuing it today. This is something that requires big investment and constant attention from the state authorities. I will not hide the fact that economic difficulties make this work harder to carry out, but it must not stop, because whoever does not invest in education, whoever does not modernise their education system, is condemned to remain on the sidelines of history.
The era of globalisation calls for the development of new approaches to education, new approaches on ways we can exchange not only technology but also new knowledge, and create educational mobility. I think it is extremely important that professors and teachers be able to come and give lectures in all different places, because, although we have excellent high-speed technology today, nothing can replace real face-to-face contact. In this respect, it is my big hope that this meeting between the rectors of the different universities will create opportunities for developing these kinds of research and teaching exchanges.
I want to say in general that we plan to further develop the full range of our humanitarian ties with Spain and Latin America. These relations have gained new life of late. I completely agree with what His Majesty said just now about the importance of continuing our cooperation in this area. We are ready to do this, and the Russian Federation will take all the necessary steps. I hope that meetings of this kind will become a lasting part of the fabric of our cooperation with the Spanish-speaking world in general. This is a promising area of work together, not a new area, but not yet as well developed as some other areas of our cooperation perhaps. I am sure that this kind of cooperation will produce good returns for university teaching staff, and, most importantly, for the students. Our countries’ leading universities are represented here today, and it gives me great pleasure once more to greet you all and wish you success in your work. Thank you.