President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends, on this beautiful spring day I wish you a warm welcome to the Kremlin to take part in an event that is a great pleasure for us all – the presentation of state decorations.
We are meeting today with the May 1 holiday just around the corner. This is a holiday with longstanding traditions in Russia and other parts of the world. Over the years of Russia’s newest history we have celebrated this day as the Day of Spring and Labour. Everyone present today can consider this holiday theirs. It might sound like a commonplace and banal statement, but people in Russia really do know the value of labour and really do have immense respect for all who are true professionals and value their professions.
Gathered here today are highly qualified workers, agriculture sector workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, railway workers, metals sector workers, drivers – people representing a diverse range of much respected professions. I want to congratulate all of you most sincerely and hope that you will spend the holidays we are about to have very happily.
Your professionalism and striving for the highest results is the foundation for our country’s development. Your efforts are essential for effectively developing our country, its economy, modernising its social sector, and guaranteeing our successful future.
There is no doubt that the crisis that has hit our country and other countries today will be temporary. Our country has faced much bigger challenges and difficulties in its development in the past, as you well remember. But we nonetheless have to make a suitable response to today’s events. Perhaps most important of all in this situation is to try to hold on to our qualified workers, support people in difficult circumstances and do everything we can to protect our people’s labour rights, because the crisis has led to more than enough infringements in this area.
Of course, it is equally important to develop our economy, improve labour productivity, and develop and spread the latest innovative technology. This is our policy choice and we have begun moving in precisely this direction. To be honest, not everything has gone as planned so far, but perhaps this crisis will help us to modernise our industries.
Another very important task is to help our young people learn professional skills for which there is demand and be able to realise their full potential. This is not easy at a time such as this, but it is the duty of the state authorities, the duty of our big companies, our employers, trade unions, and civil society forces. This is the guarantee of our future success over the long term.
Dear friends, your professional experience, like any individual experience, is unique. I want our people, our young people, to know about your achievements, and this is why this ceremony is taking place in the Kremlin, at the very highest level.
I realise that the few names I will cite do not cover everyone present here today, but I nevertheless want to cite the names of a number of our colleagues, who have achieved much in developing their businesses and honing their professional skills.
Among these people are metallurgist Ilya Khomutov and mechanical milking machine operator Galina Gorbunova. They are considered among the best specialists in their areas and, also very important, are helping young people to acquire professional skills.
Medical attendant Mikhail Fedotov and nurse Tatyana Shmeleva have devoted many years to medicine. They are highly qualified and enjoy a deservedly good reputation among their patients.
Yelena Bobrova and Lyubov Durynina have been awarded the title of Merited Teacher of the Russian Federation. The work of these excellent teachers is an example to people in all walks of life and illustrates a truly creative approach to one’s work and profession.
Also among those receiving awards today is engineer and designer Yury Kiselyov. He now has 50 patents and copyright certificates, and, very importantly, many of his innovative inventions have already been commercialised. This is really a symbol of the fact that we need to work on developing an innovative economy even during these difficult times.
I have cited these names just to give a few examples, because each of you here today deserves special mention. I want to thank you all for your honest labour, your outstanding and very hard work, for the effort you put in to your jobs every day.
I now propose that we begin the award ceremony.
Dear friends, let me congratulate you once again.
Receiving an award is a happy event, all the more so here in Moscow on this fine sunny day. I realise that each of you has your own problems, your own views on the current situation, on our efforts to get through the current difficulties, but I hope that this little happy moment will be of meaning and significance in your lives.
As for the problems we face, our colleagues who spoke just now said that we can get through them, we can overcome the difficulties and forge ahead. As I said in my opening remarks, Russia has encountered greater challenges in the past. But of course we do need to make a real effort now, and pay attention to sectors of key importance for our country – industry and agriculture.
We have managed to make some investment (of varying amounts) over these last years in the most neglected and problematic sectors, including the agriculture sector. I began working on the national projects while still in the Government, and I had to work on agriculture too, something that was completely new to me. I can say that our country’s agriculture sector has immense potential, but we need to help it to develop this potential. We need to make the necessary investment, make credits available. We began this work, and I hope that it will continue, despite the difficulties.
We also need to pay attention to our industry, where a revival was also underway. Production and wages were starting to rise at practically all industrial companies, and now, in this difficult year, we must not lose what had been achieved. Perhaps there will be a temporary standstill, perhaps a slower pace, but we must maintain what is most important, and, as I said, most important is to preserve the workforce, even if this is not easy for employers.
At my meetings with employers, with those making the decisions in their businesses, I always stress that the number one priority today is to maintain the workforce, and they show a lot of understanding for this point of view. We traversed a very difficult period in the 1990s, and we cannot afford to see our potential dispersed and scattered like this again. This would be simply harmful for society, harmful for the country.
Of course we need to work on the social sector too, on science, and on commercialising inventions, as Yury Kiselyov, I think, said. We will work on this of course. Commercialising inventions is a problematic area, because there is, unfortunately, a huge distance to cover from developing the invention itself to obtaining a patent and getting it commercialised. Commercialisation of inventions is something we are still in the process of learning at the moment. A lot in this area depends on businesses themselves, but it goes without saying that we also need to put in place legal provisions that would encourage commercialisation of inventions. This is the risk business, it has developed elsewhere all around the world, and we need to encourage it here too.
Once more, I offer you my sincere congratulations on your state decorations.
I wish you health and happiness. Pass on my best wishes to your families. I wish you all well.