President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mintimer Sharipovich, we are here to discuss various sorts of large projects our country is about to embark on, projects that will affect Tatarstan as one of Russia’s regions. But before we do that, I would like to express in the strongest possible terms our gratitude for your many years of service as leader of the Republic of Tatarstan, a region of the Russian Federation. You have guided it in a variety of circumstances: during a period of very difficult, dramatic changes in the 1990s, when the economy was in effect on the verge of complete collapse and the bonds of our Federation were tested to the utmost, and more recently during a much more prosperous period.
Tatarstan is currently one of the leading regions of our country. In my view it is a thriving area and you are directly responsible for this success. I would like to thank you most sincerely for this, for your work, for your contribution to the development of confederate relations, and for the many years that you have occupied this very important public office. I would like to express my hope that we will continue to work hand in hand. And your experience will be indispensable for the good of our country and for the development of Tatarstan as a region in the Federation. I am very keen to see this go forward.
At the same time I would like to inform you that I have just signed an executive order designating you for an award. You already have an impressive number of orders, but nevertheless presenting you the Order for Services to the Fatherland as a way of acknowledging your extraordinary qualities as a leader is in my view the ideal recognition for the work that you have done. Let me congratulate you most sincerely on winning this award.
President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev: Thank you very much for that and for the glowing terms in which you put it.
Living and working during a time of fundamental restructuring has been difficult for everyone: the first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and now you, because the whole process of perestroika is an ongoing one and keeps throwing up new challenges.
As someone who has worked in government for a long time I am keen to succeed. I hope we are successful and that the country really does progress and realise all the new phases of civilised development, even though this is a very, very difficult process. But the main thing is that we inspire confidence in people's souls, which is also hard to do. Because people find it difficult to take this path: they constantly encounter various obstacles and are always hoping for a better life. And we know how hard it is to meet and respond to these aspirations.
Thank you for this award. As it turns out, you have made me a Full Cavalier of the Order.
Dmitry Medvedev: We need full cavaliers as these were the people who got us through the difficult Soviet period and the era of crisis with all its changes. This award is richly deserved in light of your extraordinary service to your country and your republic.
Mintimer Shaimiyev: I would still like to thank you in particular. The investiture of our Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov has gone very well, according to your suggestion. When discussing his candidacy, you took into account the views of our people and our views. As you know, it is a decision that will affect many people. We have no doubt whatsoever that, as you pointed out when these discussions were taking place, a whole galaxy of promising young men is now available. That is indeed the case. We are very rich in this regard.
And if we talk about my feelings, do you know how I’m feeling now?
Dmitry Medvedev: I’m sure it can’t be easy.
Mintimer Shaimiyev: Nobody can really understand. I’ve been in government for 25 years, the whole time as the man in charge. I’ve worked with big groups, small groups, people of all sorts. Now every day I am getting the sense of what it’s like to be free from all these governmental duties. It’s amazing. It fills me with real joy. It’s astonishing.
Dmitry Medvedev: That's great. Because life goes on for you, thank God. And despite the fact that I very much count on your experience with the country’s affairs and of course your help and support for the new President of Tatarstan, I certainly wish him well and have already sent him my congratulations …
Mintimer Shaimiyev: Yes, we received them …
Dmitry Medvedev: Naturally we’ll be seeing each other. But I would say that I am sure that your experience in government will be invaluable. And as this new stage of your life begins, I hope that you will be able to relax a little.
Mintimer Shaimiyev: Thank you.