The President noted in his address that modernisation is a common priority for the Commonwealth states. Dmitry Medvedev called on the forum’s participants to restore the broken production chains, find new areas of cooperation and launch new industrial and economic entities and new joint projects based on modern technologies.
V Forum of Creative and Academic Intellectuals of the CIS Member States was organised with the support of the Council for Humanitarian Cooperation and the CIS Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation.
The forum was attended by over 500 delegates from all Commonwealth states, including about 200 representatives of creative young professionals.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, friends,
I am very glad that this Forum is taking place in Moscow.
It is my great pleasure to welcome creative and academic professionals from the CIS countries. I can see a lot of familiar faces in this hall, which is great because we all enjoy meeting with old friends. Before Moscow, this forum has already been held at several venues: in Astana, Dushanbe and Chisinau. And today, in the Year of Science and Innovation, we are meeting here in Moscow, at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), to which I would like to give special thanks.
At present Russia is holding the rotating chairmanship in the Commonwealth of Independent States. I would like to share with you my thoughts on how we can develop further, and talk about our present and our future.
Of course, I will not attempt to present an exhaustive analysis of events, and I am certainly not going to give prescriptions regarding our future development. This will be just a reflection on some processes that are taking place in the CIS, primarily with a focus on science and technology, innovation and youth contacts.
I believe that we are all interested in modernising our countries. We had quite a long difficult period when each CIS member was building its own statehood and restoring its economy. Even now we have probably not done everything we had planned. There are still problems in everyday life and economic development: there are country-specific problems, there are interstate problems, and finally there are global problems, such as the financial and economic crisis, which hit almost all states round the world, including the most developed and the developing economies. The CIS member states are still considered developing countries regardless of their economies’ magnitude and regardless of the economic processes we are undergoing.
”Economic modernisation is a shared priority for all the CIS economies.“
In order for us to overcome this situation, we need a certain development trend. What could that be? It is patently clear that we must transform our economies. While last decade was devoted to creating the foundations of market economy, and on the whole this has been achieved, this decade it is evident that we need to create a new economy, to diversify the economy and to change the economic structure. This becomes clear if we look at the example of the Russian Federation, and I believe that economic modernisation is a vital step. This is not even a thesis because it is a shared priority for all the CIS economies.
We should look for new bridges to join our economies again, to restore the production chains in those cases where they were broken off and to find new areas of cooperation, because we will not get far with our Soviet heritage. It is pointless to talk about the great ties we used to have and how they are gone now, which is regrettable and we have to restore them. That is not enough. It is obvious that we must launch new industrial and economic entities and new joint projects based on modern technologies. I hope that the results of such modernisation projects will become our common advantage.
”We should look for new bridges to join our economies again, to restore the production chains in those cases where they were broken off and to find new areas of cooperation.“
Who should lead the way in tackling this challenge? Young people, of course, because we have a common history and we have good contacts between our countries, between our governments, between our academic communities and between public organisations. Nevertheless, we will not succeed without the involvement of young people in modern economic life and modernisation. That is why the future belongs to all those who are linked with technology.
Here at the forum we have already had the presentation of the CIS Open Network University, which has launched its Master’s programmes at 16 universities in eight countries, if I have the facts right. The International Innovative Nanotechnology Centre has begun operation and the CIS School of Nanotechnology is in its third year. Those are excellent achievements. The Commonwealth of Debuts prize has been established, and today it will be awarded to young scientists following a rigorous international competition. I congratulate all the winners in advance. I do not know who they are, but I am sure they deserve the prize.
This summer I travelled to one of our youth camps at Seliger, where young scientists and innovators from around the CIS have been working for the second year running, and I spoke with some people there from other CIS countries. They presented their innovative projects and made some viable proposals regarding their implementation and introduction in everyday life.
”We have bright minds and highly developed science, but there is a problem with the implementation of scientific achievements. We should borrow the best practical examples from developed economies, from the countries that have already gone through just such a technological revolution.“
After all, what is the trouble with new technology in our countries? We have bright minds and highly developed science, but there is a problem with the implementation of scientific achievements. We have not really mastered what is called the commercialisation of scientific achievements. Unfortunately, this is beyond the scope of our Soviet experience because in those times our economies were based on different principles. We will have to learn it now, and we should not feel embarrassed about it or try to show that we already know what is what. I think we should borrow the best practical examples from developed economies, from the countries that have already gone through just such a technological revolution.
We must address the challenges in education. A congress of teachers from the CIS countries was held for the first time in twenty years in Astana [the capital of Kazakhstan] this spring. I hope this tradition will continue; our country, too, is celebrating the Year of the Teacher now. One of our competitive advantages is our common education space. No matter how much we engage in improving our domestic institutions, we all understand that our markets, our countries are very closely interdependent, and we will always be neighbours and natural partners. We must remember this as we build educational and economic partnerships. Education – I will not talk platitudes — is a priority in the development of any country now. The largest economies in the world are paying particular attention to this: the most advanced economies and the fastest growing economies, and we must do it as well. But education, let me emphasise this again, is our competitive advantage, because our educational roots are still very close. We must not lose this, it should be retained.
An important factor is our regional cooperation. We are operating within the Commonwealth of Independent States, but we are launching integration processes under the auspices of regional associations, EurAsEC, the Customs Union, and I hope in the future also the Common Economic Space. I believe that is perhaps our most important recent achievement.
We can argue and disagree on some issues, we can spar with each other, we can hold very emotional discussions on the processes underway in our countries, that is life, we are building a modern society, we are building democracies, but what we must retain at all cost is this attraction to each other, this attraction between people, and our potential to change our economies through it. It is the duty of any politician in the Russian Federation and in all countries of the Commonwealth.
Another very important subject is humanitarian ties. In recent years, we have implemented over two hundred joint projects, in which tens of thousands of people took part – and these are just active participants. There were also many others who watched these projects, who provided assistance or simply enjoyed them; the number of such people runs into millions.
We have held the Year of Literature and Reading and the Year of the Youth. The Year of Historical and Cultural Heritage is scheduled for 2011, and its programme includes the first interstate project The Cultural Capitals of the CIS. In 2012, we will hold the Year of Healthy Lifestyle and Sports. As you can see, all of these are important issues for any nation.
Today, as you interact with each other during this forum, I would like to ask you to help us, the politicians, because what we sometimes lack is an interested involvement of a significant number of educated people, those who, in fact, promote the most advanced ideas. Therefore, I very much hope that you will try hard today.
Next year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the CIS. What does this mean? Apart from the fact that it is a round number, everyone is going to talk about what has been done and the opportunities that have been missed, and whether the CIS has a future or will disappear.
I would like to draw your attention to two things. 20 years is an age of an adult. Today’s twenty-year-olds have lived their entire lives in an environment where our countries developed independently but we had this integrated organisation. This is something politicians and everyone else should remember.
And the second point is very simple. The CIS, with all its strengths and weaknesses, will always be the way we want to see it, the way you want to see it, the way our young people want to see it. This is a simple idea but it is absolutely true. So I wish you success in your work and hope that we will meet many times again. Goodbye.
Success to you all. All the best.