Vladimir Putin's address to the participants of the Fourth World Congress of Compatriots 2012-10-26 10:10:00 St Petersburg President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends, It gives me great pleasure to welcome the participants of the Fourth World Congress of Compatriots. Your meetings have become a beneficial and valuable tradition. This year, the St Petersburg Congress has brought together delegates from more than 90 countries, representing different generations of the millions-strong Russian community around the world. You share a common concern for Russia’s future and its people, a commitment to be useful to your historical homeland, to promote its socioeconomic development and strengthen its international authority and prestige. We highly value your contribution to the preservation of the Russian language and culture, the promotion of spiritual values that we share, the desire to disseminate around the world objective information about modern Russia, its history and achievements in education, science and technology. In turn, Russia always remembers its compatriots and is aware of the issues that concern you. Support for the Russian diaspora is one of the most important policies of our state. This is enshrined in the Federal Law On State Policy toward Compatriots Living Abroad. The law’s new edition stipulates that efforts are to be made to promote the unity of Russian communities abroad and to protect your rights and interests in accordance with international standards. This is a large and complex task, which we intend to tackle systemically and consistently, in close contact with all of you. Global and local coordinating councils of compatriots should play a major role. We actively work on improving communication with them, provide assistance, including financial aid, and support their print publications and online resources. We realise the importance of expanding the network of Russian centres of science and culture around the globe. Our plans include opening new consulates in the countries and regions with large Russian communities, particularly in the CIS. At the end of last year, we adopted a large-scale government programme to support compatriots for 2012 to 2014 and have allocated significant funding for its implementation. In January, the Foundation for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots began to operate, through which qualified legal assistance is provided in cases when ethnic and cultural rights of Russians living in other countries are violated. Next year, an updated state programme for voluntary relocation of compatriots to Russia will come into force. It was prepared with due account for the programme’s previous experience, which was used by about 100,000 people. Assistance in moving to Russia will be provided for those who want to work or study in Russia, plan to open their own business as well as individuals with outstanding achievements in science, technology and culture, and with unique management experience. A key challenge is to preserve ethnic and cultural identity and to strengthen the position of the Russian language in other countries, especially in the former Soviet Union. This is the aim of The Russian Language federal programme, adopted for 2011–2015. The concept entitled The Russian School Abroad is currently being drafted. The Russian World Foundation extends financial support in the form of grants to Russian educational programmes. I would like to note the special role of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions in spiritual education and strengthening humanitarian and cultural ties between the Russian diaspora and its historical homeland. Young compatriots and their organisations abroad require special attention. It is necessary to assist them in carrying out youth festivals and gatherings, and to facilitate travel by young people to the historical places in our country. The Government has been instructed to increase the quota for the admission of compatriots in Russian universities and vocational colleges, and to finance their studies out of the federal budget. We look forward to seeing young representatives of the Russian diaspora working as interpreters and volunteers at the Universiade in Kazan in 2013, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Friends, The Congress of Compatriots provides you with an opportunity to discuss current issues and identify challenges to be tackled together. I am sure that the participants’ views and proposals will help strengthen ties between the Russian diaspora and its historical homeland. I wish you successful and fruitful work.