President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, friends,
I congratulate you all sincerely on Rescuers’ Day and the 20th anniversary of the Emergencies Ministry’s founding.
Looking back at how things were 20 years ago, it was a different situation then, different circumstances, but not all of the decisions made at that difficult time turned out wrong. The decision to establish the Emergencies Ministry proved a very effective step indeed. I am trying to recall what preceded this decision and how this work was organised in the USSR, and it was obviously a very different system to what we have now.
All of the Emergencies Ministry personnel are people who are truly devoted to their job, people ready to come to our citizens’ aid as the circumstances demand, and who are ready too to help other countries facing problems.
It is always a particular pleasure when I travel abroad and some of my foreign colleagues say, “you have an excellent Emergencies Ministry. Its operation is marvellously well organised, and we take it as an example”. You don’t so often hear praise abroad, after all. Given that far from all of our various state agencies are ideal in their performance, to say the least, and given our endless battle with bureaucracy, it is a great pleasure to hear this praise not for a particular individual or group of tough guys, but a whole ministry. To be honest, this is probably the only ministry that our foreign colleagues so obviously support and respect.
As for our own people, you know yourselves that they sometimes await your arrival in the most difficult and sometimes tragic situations. In the most hopeless situations you, the Emergencies Ministry’s personnel, the rescuers, are the last hope. These can be all kinds of different situations: global, severe and difficult situations, and also local, ordinary, but at the same time no less terrible individual human tragedies.
This year will stay in our memories. You are never short of work. This is the way life goes: there are more than enough problems. But this year brought particularly difficult weather conditions, and we all remember the huge fires, smell of smoke, sorrow of loss, and also the selfless labour of the rescuers, the fire-fighters, and all the Emergencies Ministry personnel.
I gave a round-up of the year’s events just recently. Though tragic, this summer was an event too, and it showed that we can resolve even very big and complex tasks, when misfortune strikes our country. You know better than I do what difficulties our colleagues abroad encounter and how they turn to us for support. We had such requests just recently again, and lent our assistance once more. And again, it was a pleasure to receive the words of thanks addressed to our Emergencies Ministry.
It is one matter to tackle these tasks at localized scale, however, and another to do so for two months in a row and throughout practically the whole country. That was a very difficult test even for such a well-organised machine as the Emergencies Ministry. It also revealed some problems, but overall, the ministry coped with the situation, saved many lives, fought the fires and stopped their spread across Russia. Every day, when I called the minister, he reported that the extent of the fires had decreased by such and such percentage. It was like receiving battle updates, and everyone was waiting for these updates, not just the president and the decision-makers, but ordinary people too.
You coped with this problem. Today, as you celebrate the ministry’s 20th anniversary, I want to thank you all for the hard work you have done this year. Thank you very much.
We need to learn from these problems. It is good that we have the financial possibilities and political will to do so now. It is for this reason that decisions have been made, based on the year’s events, to re-equip various units, acquire new equipment and build up the aviation resources, as well as other areas. I am very confident that this will make the Emergencies Ministry even more effective, high-performing ministry so close to our people that it is.
I congratulate you all sincerely on your professional holiday, and on the 20th anniversary of all the hard work that the ministry has been doing. Twenty years is already if not maturity, than at least the prime of youth, and the ministry and everyone working for it clearly have much more work ahead.
I wish you all good health in the upcoming year, for you will certainly need it, and I wish you the strong and resolute spirit you need to make decisions and carry them out. Our people are proud of your work. I congratulate you on your professional holiday and wish you a happy New Year, I wish you happiness and all the best.