President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, friends,
Two months ago, when I came to Yoshkar Ola when the wildfires were at their height, I presented state decorations to officers of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Defence Ministry, Interior Ministry, and forestry management service personnel. That was a field ceremony, you could say. I promised to recognise the services of everyone who distinguished themselves in their efforts and the performance of their professional duties during what were very difficult circumstances for our country. I am therefore very happy to see you here today in one of the Kremlin’s grandest halls and to personally present these state decorations to you.
Everything that happened then, the heat wave that hit our country and the wildfires that spread across our territory were a real natural disaster. It was thanks to your courage, professional skill, and precise, well-organised action that we managed to get through these trials. Most important of all, you saved thousands of people, protected towns and villages and numerous settlements throughout central Russia.
I will not name any of you in particular, because all of you acted with great professionalism and bravery, and at the same time, you were simply doing your jobs, doing your job to the highest standards.
I want to say a special welcome to the representatives of the foreign rescue and fire-fighting services that came to our country’s aid. We are truly grateful to the fire-fighters and pilots from 15 different countries, who fought the elements and tackled great difficulties shoulder to shoulder with their Russian colleagues. They will also receive state decorations, some here today, and some at a later moment.
I just held a special meeting with officials of various ministries and agencies and regional and local authorities. I spoke with the people who are busy rebuilding the housing right now. This work is underway everywhere, primarily in central Russia, but also in Siberia, in Altai Territory.
But the big task for our country today is to minimise the consequences of similar tragedies in the future. We realise that the forces of nature are beyond our control, and we cannot completely prevent the possibility of disasters of this kind in the future, but we can be better prepared, and we must do everything needed to make sure this is the case.
I spoke just before with the Emergency Situations Minister. I have given the instruction to purchase new fire-fighting equipment, planes and other types of equipment. This is not the only thing we must do, but it is important and essential. It is essential for everyone involved in organising this work to change their approach somewhat. After all, these kinds of disasters do not hit our country alone. Other countries also suffer greatly from fires, and incidentally, these countries’ leaders called me to express their condolences and support. These countries have already worked out their action procedures, and know what to do in this situation, and not so much just the Defence and Interior Ministry fire-fighting services, but above all the civilian population. They have built up well developed voluntary organisations. At one time our country was also quite actively involved in this. We now need to rebuild that system, and not just rebuild it but take it to a new level. We absolutely must work on prevention, take preventive measures, address environmental issues, and quite simply educate the public and foster environmental awareness. This will help in your future work.
When presenting state decorations, we usually talk about how behind individual acts are teams of thousands of people, and people are usually very modest about their own achievements, saying, “Of course I did something, but a huge thanks goes to the whole team, to my colleagues and friends”, and this is all understandable on the human level. But nonetheless, in presenting these state decorations today, I want to note perhaps more than in any other situation, the personal contribution of each of you here today and thank you most sincerely.
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It remains for me only to thank you very much once more on behalf of the Russian Federation. I address my gratitude to our civilians and military personnel for everything that you did during this extremely difficult time.
I want to express my sincere thanks once more to all of our friends from abroad who came to our aid in a very difficult situation. These are pages that will remain forever in the history of the relations between our countries and peoples. You can be sure that if you need our support and help you will receive it. We have possibilities that we can offer, as you know, and we are always ready to help our friends in times of need.
I hope you will convey these words of thanks to all who took the decision to send rescuers and fire-fighters to our country. I really do greatly appreciate this gesture of support.
I hope this day will be a memorable occasion for you, because this really is a day when our entire country thanks you for your outstanding and highly professional performance. I hope very much that you will continue to work just as wonderfully as you have so far.
I wish you happiness and good health. Pass on my best wishes to your families. They can be proud of you.