Speech and Answers to Questions at Columbia University 2003-09-26 01:00:42 New York Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Despite the difficulties in entering the building, we have nevertheless managed to get in and this is already a positive result. I would ask you not to take offence at the security service. What can we do? This is the world that we have to live in. I often get angry with the security service – with my own and others’ – but I don’t take offence. They are doing their job, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Mr President, Friends, First of all, allow me to thank Mr Bollinger. I also thank all the students who have gathered here and the professors of Columbia University for the warm and cheerful reception. I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit one of the oldest universities in the United States. I know that next year you are celebrating your 250th anniversary. Mr Bollinger and I have already had the chance to talk about this and he told me about the university. And I want to make use of this opportunity and congratulate you on this important upcoming event. * * * Universities like Columbia have a particular influence on political, economic and cultural life. Here ideas are born – new ideas, and people are educated who should implement and practically apply them. Your university is one of the recognised world centres for studying the problems of political science, theory and practice of international relations. And I would like to take this opportunity to share my views on several problems of the modern world and Russian-American relations. One could say that for many of you, Russia has become your destiny as scholars. You know a great deal about the history of our country, its culture and traditions. You study its contemporary economy and politics. But you probably also know something else: how relations between Russia and the United States have changed in recent decades. Unfortunately, the American school of sovietology and the Soviet school of American studies, or rather, “the study of American imperialism”, as they liked to say in Russia at the time, were for many years the hostages of politics when our countries alternated between becoming allies and bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. Naturally, in these conditions, scholarly work was excessively politicised. It was not so much involved in the study of the uniqueness and diversity of American and Russian civilisations, as in finding weak points in our political systems, and looking for tools to make as many attacks as possible, and do as much damage as possible to each other. Unfortunately, the inertia of such approaches is very strong. The world has changed fundamentally and the Soviet Union is no more, but sovietology still exists. The president of the university and I talked, and I told him: these disciplines need to be abolished. There is nothing to study! I see words inscribed on the arches of this hall: “Medicine,” “Theology,” “Philosophy”. Sovietology is not there. And this is correct, because knowledge about each other should be based on fundamental knowledge. Only then will it be objective and profound, and will help people understand each other – for Russians to understand America and for Americans to understand Russia. We have travelled a very difficult path towards each other. Today, our countries adhere to many common values like never before. However, we can see that we are still a long way from a complete and mutual end to differences and stereotypical views about each other. To break the inertia of thinking, to oppose it with an objective analysis and positive knowledge your direct involvement is extremely important in this task. And in connection with this, we need new and well-thought out forms of interaction with one another like we need air. And not just in the sphere of security and war on terrorism, but in general – in the economy, in politics, in culture, and in the humanitarian sphere, in the widest sense of this word. * * * Two weeks ago America paid tribute to the memory of the victims of September 11. I must say that those events two years ago were a true shock to Russian society, which has its own similar bitter experience because the Russian people have felt this for themselves. I visited the fire department yesterday. I must say that I still feel a strong emotional effect from their stories and from the exhibition we looked at, with photographs of the killed fire fighters …. Tragedies of this scale are turning points in history. They not only leave a trace in the memory, they fundamentally change and transform thinking, the system of reality and the way of life for entire peoples and nations. Today the world must think about the nature of terrorism, about its roots. One cannot close ones eyes to the fact that explosions and assassinations are only the tip of the iceberg of such a dangerous and destructive phenomenon. For at the basis of ideology and practice of terrorism lies an aspiration to remake the world, to deny the values of human life – both others’ and one’s own. And when I said that the aspiration to remake the world lies at the basis of terrorism, I was not exaggerating. This is what lies at the basis of terrorism. This is what they aspire to, however strange it may seem. Perhaps some terrorists have murdered two or three thousand people – it is a terrible tragedy, but do they think they can remake the world? They think they can. And their main weapon is not even terrorist acts. It is an attempt to enter people’s minds; to poison people’s minds with ideas that have nothing in common with humanism. They sow fear and hate, trample on rights and freedoms, and the democratic foundation of society. At the same time, both of our experiences show that methods of force in fighting terrorism are far from being the only ones and they are not always effective. We believe that along with anti-terrorist operations, it is necessary to deploy a wide-ranging intellectual front to fight terrorism. Conflicts of religions and nations that are artificially stirred up by terrorists need to be opposed with humanist values and knowledge, tolerance and extensive information about each other. * * * The modern world is very interdependent. And any unstable area in the world may become a source of threats for people who live on the other side of the globe. It is no coincidence that the terrorist act against the UN mission in Iraq is, in its brutality, senselessness and means of execution, a complete copy of the crimes – I repeat, a complete and absolute copy of the crimes – which terrorists committed in a number of cities in Russia. Our countries must together, step by step, unravel the areas of regional conflicts. Together, within the framework of the UN and other international organisations, we must choose a strategy of building a more stable and just economic system. A system which should have no place for poverty or social disorder. * * * I purposely prepared a short introductory speech, so as not to tire you out, and I would like to leave more time for questions. But in conclusion, I would like to remind you that we are only a few years away from the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. In 1807, President Jefferson wrote to Russian Emperor Alexander I: “I am certain that Russia is a country that is most amiably disposed to us.” When we have been together, we have always achieved success and triumphed over evil, tyranny and prejudice. This was the way it was during the American War of Independence, and Jefferson did not write these words for no reason: Russia was the truest ally of the United States during this period. This was the way it was during the First and Second World Wars. This is also the way it is at the moment. I am certain any breakthroughs – in politics and in business – require new staff and serious investments in the human potential of our cooperation. And this is why joint training and exchange of specialists is so important, as well as the exchange of educational systems, and research and innovation activity. All this work lies ahead. Knowing each other from their days as students, young people in Russia and the United States will form a view of the world that is free of stereotypes more easily and quickly. It is young people who determine the spirit and nature of relations between our nations. They determine common values that are necessary to build a safe, prosperous future for the entire planet. I sincerely wish you success and thank you for your attention. Please, if you have any questions, I will try to answer them. Question: Addressing the Federal Assembly in May of this year you described AIDS as a threat to Russia’s national security, and you spoke about it at the UN General Assembly today. What concrete steps will Russia take in this field and how will it cooperate with civil society? Vladimir Putin: The problem is global and, unfortunately, highly relevant to Russia. It is connected with a whole range of factors and the social component is very important here. The problem of drug addiction in Russia has never been worse. In the era of planned economy there were many things that were wrong, which eventually led to collapse, but there were certain advantages that enabled the state to concentrate resources on the areas it considered to be important. They included public health. To restructure public health in modern conditions and create a good environment for its functioning in order to solve the social problems connected with AIDS, to solve the problems connected with drug addiction, efforts are required not only at the national but also the international level. We have a whole programme of work within the country, but of course, and I repeat it, we will do everything to pool efforts internationally. We are working on a programme at the UN, we are making our contribution, and we have some good developments, but we also borrow everything that can be borrowed from our partners, including the United States. We highly praise this cooperation and we are sure that it will bring results. Question: Are you planning to ask the international fund for help in combating AIDS? Vladimir Putin: You know, we are cooperating with the fund, and moreover, we are planning to make some contributions to it. The contributions will take the form of donations and of the transfer of our developments in the medical field. We have some good research and development in this field and we are sure it will be useful. Question: I have a question not about politics, but about the Russian language. As a student I very much like the colourful and apt way in which you express yourself. Vladimir Putin: Not always apt, but it happens. Question: Well, you… don’t mince your words. Vladimir Putin: Yes, it happens. Question: … And the way you make jokes, I think they are very apt. And the way you use strong language…. Vladimir Putin: You are exaggerating. I try not to use strong language. Question: Well, perhaps I should have said strong expressions that are very current. Are they part of present-day Russian language? Are these the expressions that make Russian so lively and colourful? Vladimir Putin: I am not a philologist, but I have my ideas on the topic. Language is a living organism; it develops. And there are some things, I think, in English, in German, French and Russian that only yesterday were on everybody’s lips and were part of the slang of certain age and occupational groups, but have now been partly forgotten and are replaced with other slang. We have a lot of borrowings from the English language. We have people who are fighting for the purity of the Russian language to prevent it from borrowing anything from other languages. You know that there was a period in Russian history when the Russian aristocracy spoke mainly French. If you remember War and Peace, Natasha Rostova at a ball took her wonderful shawl and began to dance the Russian way. That was something unusual, because the aristocracy didn’t want to speak or think or dance in the Russian way. You know what happened to that aristocracy. You cannot be divorced from your collective, as we say in my country. So I think that your mode of thought and your mode of expressing your thoughts should be such that people understand you. But there must be a certain line and I hope I manage to stay on this side of it. Question: I have a more serious question about language and words. Many of your critics accuse you of infringing upon free speech in Russia and I wonder how you would answer them. Vladimir Putin: My answer is simple: we have never had free speech in Russia, so I don’t quite understand what there is to be infringed upon. As you know, we had a totalitarian state for a hundred years and before that tsarism was infringing upon everything. We had no parliamentary activities, we formed a parliament and then dissolved it and so on. Then in the early 1990s we had a resurgence of freedom. And it was interpreted in various ways by society and the press. One body of opinion holds that freedom, including freedom of the press, is permissiveness and anarchy, a wish to destroy everything at all costs. I think freedom is the possibility to express your opinion, but there must be certain limits set forth in the law. And the laws, if they are passed democratically, put natural limits on the freedom of each and every one, be it an individual or a corporation, including a media corporation. We faced that problem during the hostage-taking in Moscow when a television company broke the rules, and let me tell you honestly, it bribed a policeman on the street, climbed to the roof of a building and broadcast live the start of the storming of the building where there were more than 800 hostages thus putting at risk the lives of all the hostages and a special forces unit of 200 men who had entered a mined building. Why did they do it? Were they driven by the fundamental ideas of freedom of the press? Of course not. They themselves formulated their aim: to beat the competition. No one, except for them had done it. Their aim was to make money. Is it right to put people’s lives on the line in quest of profits? That is not the way. There must be rules that everyone obeys. And after that the press itself created a so-called Industrial Committee, a committee that brought together all the chief executives of the main media outlets. They themselves proposed certain rules within which the press was to proceed in critical situations. That is the first component of our life today. The second is that the press must be free, but it can only be free if it has its own economic basis. If it is fully monopolised by two or three moneybags, then it is not the freedom of the press, it is the freedom to protect corporate interests. This is my personal opinion. We may have different opinions on these matters, but you have asked me for mine and I have answered you. Question: Mr President, what main lessons – personal and professional – did you learn from Anatoly Sobchak? Vladimir Putin: He was an honest and very decent man. And in all his activities he was guided by public interests. And secondly, and I think it was an important asset of his, he could be tolerant, including of those he considered to be his enemies. Question: The world sees Russia as a developing democracy. How do you feel about the fact that people already call the upcoming presidential elections “Putin’s election”? And the second question: if you do have an election campaign does Russia want expats to take part in these elections? Vladimir Putin: As regards sticking labels on elections, I believe that it is a way of fighting one of the presidential candidates. If somebody says it will be “Putin’s elections” or, as we say in Russia, elections of an Ivanov, Petrov, or Sidorov, it is an indirect call on people not to go to the polls, an attempt to suggest to the voters that there is no point in going to the polls because the outcome is a foregone conclusion, to reduce the turnout and damage the leader, that is one way of electoral struggle. Now regarding the people who had left the USSR to live abroad and are now interested in the political life in Russia. Only citizens of the Russian Federation can take part directly in Russia’s political life, especially elections. But we are interested in engaging with all our fellow countrymen abroad. I think it was a grievous mistake of the Soviet Union that it alienated people and failed to use the potential of the Russian diaspora abroad. For example, I twice visited Israel, and it is a Russian-speaking country; you can speak Russian in every restaurant there. There are of course some people who feel ill-done-by when they emigrated, and it still bothers them; but on the whole even the people who have never been to Russia, the children of émigrés, cultivate the Russian language and speak it freely. This is true not only of Israel but of other countries. I think that is our untapped potential. We are not doing enough in that field, and we will try to do more. Question: Mr President, China is in the process of perestroika, like Russia was in 1986–1991. And that process depends on the good will of the people all over the world. Russia wishes the Chinese people success in this. I have a long statement to make on the topic, but I will be brief. I ask you to allow the Dalai-Lama to visit Russia where there are a million Buddhists in Kalmykia, Tyva, and Buryatia, and I ask you to meet the Dalai-Lama personally. Vladimir Putin: You know, we have had long-standing and not always simple relations with our great neighbour, China. It is indeed a huge country, but not just huge; it is a great country in terms of culture and history. It is hard to give advice to the Chinese. Nobody knows China better than they themselves. They have a society that is intricately organised, and the internal links and governability of that society can easily be broken. And the consequences of such a disruption are beyond conjecture. They may affect not only China, but also the countries that are its neighbours and that are removed from it. In my opinion, we must respect the choice of the Chinese people. We are cooperating with China, it is our strategic partner and ally. As for the Dalai-Lama and freedom of religion. The Dalai-Lama has been to Russia, as you know, and Russia has no problems with a visit by the Dalai-Lama. You know how the Chinese regard that religious figure. Unfortunately, that is their internal political problem. I hope our Chinese friends won’t take offense if I say that one of the Chinese leaders asked me privately: “How many followers of the Dalai-Lama do you have?” I replied: “Well, about a million and a half.” And he told me: “You have to choose who you want to be friends with, with these people or with a billion and a half Chinese.” Of course he was joking, but we understand what a sensitive issue it is for the People’s Republic of China. We will try to find a solution that would satisfy those Russian citizens who want to meet with the Dalai-Lama without impairing our relations with China. Question: Recently I have had a feeling that the old times are back. My colleagues in Russia ask me not to speak over the telephone from the hotel, not to tell all over e-mail. And there are several other things, for example, VTsIOM, which signals a new role of the FSB and other security bodies…. Vladimir Putin: Times are changing and I think the citizens of the United States also feel some changes. Foreigners as well. For example, you make high-ranking Russian diplomats take off their shoes at the airport and take off their trousers. I hope nothing like that happens to you in Russia. And yet you do not enjoy diplomatic immunity like our diplomats. Number one. Number two. As regards concrete instances, I have already had occasion to answer a similar question. But that other journalist was more specific, he started speaking about concrete things, and I answered every concrete question. Your question contained only one specific example, the so-called VTsIOM. What specifically is it about that organisation that worries you? Question: Well, it used to be an independent organisation and now it has Government representatives…. Vladimir Putin: Excuse me, what is your name? Question: Mark von Hagen. Vladimir Putin: I was asked in Moscow too: how come? It used to be an independent organisation and now you want to turn it into a government one? Is that what you have in mind? Question: Yes. Vladimir Putin: Dear colleagues, VTsIOM is a government organisation…. (Animation in the audience) Vladimir Putin: … An organisation that is effectively under the Presidential Executive Office. And we want to privatise it. The VTsIOM staff do not want to be privatised, they say: we want to be part of the government structure, we want to get regular pay and to be able to make some money on the side. You know, in order to have a normal discussion we must speak the same language and not proceed on the basis of rumours. The people at VTsIOM are unhappy because there are moves to separate them from the state. VTsIOM is headed up by a worthy man, a truly competent and prominent specialist. Honestly, I haven’t yet looked into that problem; in my country everything tends to be privatised, regardless of whether it is necessary or not. If they don’t want to be privatised in that way and it can still be stopped, I will stop it. But then don’t tell me that we are forcing that organisation to be under our umbrella. And I assure you it is the same on all the other issues. As regards the role of the special services, they shouldn’t poke their noses in the affairs of civil society. But they must fulfil their function of guarding the interests of the state. For a long period of time these special services were in total disarray. And it is only in recent years that we have put them all together and organised them properly and made them work. It is only now that they are putting their act together. It does not mean that they should poke their noses everywhere. There is only one way in which that can be assured: to develop the democratic structures of society and to put these special services under the control of the state and society. We are trying to do it and I think we are succeeding. If you see concrete cases that truly worry you – not VTsIOM and similar cases that have nothing to do with it – we are ready to discuss them and not just discuss, but to react. Question: What do you think about the plans of deprivatisation or the proposals put forward, for example, by Grigory Yavlinsky? Vladimir Putin: As you know in the early 1990s Russia carried out a massive sell-off of state property. And one must say it bluntly and honestly, it was not always done in a sensible way. It was not always done out of economic considerations. More often than not it was done out of political considerations. The idea behind it was to distribute property and create a social class that would allow Russia to turn back the clock towards a totalitarian society, to create a community of people who would be prepared to fight for what they had obtained. That was a method of privatisation about which the whole society had strong feelings and not only those who had gained state property. And the overwhelming majority of the members of Russian society believe it was an unfair method of privatisation. At the same time it is my deep conviction that to launch a redistribution of property now, to start deprivatisation would cause even more damage than the privatisation itself. So I am against deprivatisation, nationalisation and so on. You have mentioned the Yabloko leader, Grigory Yavlinsky. We have repeatedly discussed the topic with him; what he proposes is not an amnesty for crimes connected with privatisation, but an amnesty of privatisation itself, an amnesty of the capitals that were obtained as a result of the carving up of state property. It is a good and sound idea, but the question is how to implement it. There are two components. The first component is legal: how to do it in an absolutely correct way legally and politically. Society must accept that method and agree to such a solution. Why? It is not only necessary for society, but for the people who got a hold of state property, if they are to feel relaxed and secure. That is not a simple task. I have an ongoing discussion about it with the leaders of various parties and groups in Russia. I discuss it with our colleagues in Europe and the US. We are thinking about it. If we find a way to do it we will do it. Question: In what direction will cooperation between America and Russia develop with regard to Central Asia, especially Kyrgyzstan? Vladimir Putin: I don’t think I need tell you what Central Asia is for Russia. For centuries Central Asia has been part of our country, Russia and then the Soviet Union. Millions of ethnic Russians live there and practically the whole population of Central Asia considers Russian to be their native tongue. And we have a special economic relationship, personal, business and humanitarian relationships. To us, it is a special region. It is in fact part of our home, part of our heart. But we are aware of the realities in which we live. The Central Asian states are independent states, members of the United Nations; they have their own presidents, governments and policies; they have made their choice and they are all members of the CIS and we are coordinating our actions with them in many areas under the auspices of that organisation. Just recently, as you know, we held a CIS summit in Yalta. Our relations with Kyrgyzstan are making very good headway. There is considerable progress on the economic front: in the first six months of this year our trade increased by more than 7%. We are very glad that Kyrgyzstan has left the period of internal political transformations behind and that internal peace has come to the country. We have some good plans in the energy field. As you know we have agreed to open a Russian airbase there under the Collective Security Treaty, most of whose members and Central Asian countries. This has been done to beef up the counter-terrorist capacity of the Collective Security Treaty so that the terrorists know that if necessary they will be rebuffed. As you know, two and a half years ago terrorists from Afghanistan passed through several countries unobstructed, invaded Kyrgyzstan and controlled the mountainous areas. It came as an absolute surprise for the people of Kyrgyzstan and their leaders. On that occasion we helped Kyrgyzstan by supplying arms and equipment and army fatigues. But it all happened spontaneously and unexpectedly. To rule out such surprises in the future, we have worked out a plan of joint actions. We will implement it. We welcome the US activities in Central Asia. You know what our position has been since the start of the counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. We believe that but for resolute actions in Afghanistan the Taliban would still be running the country. You may have different opinions on what has been done there. Many things could have been done more effectively perhaps, but one thing is certain: if not for the resolute actions of George Bush, the Taliban would still be in control there, threatening Central Asia. It is an obvious fact and it has to be recognised. We will continue to work with the United States to solve the problems of that region. Question: In your speech to the UN General Assembly you did not mention the timeframe for the handover of power to the Iraqis… And the second question. What is the aim of your upcoming meeting with President Bush? Will you press for a more serious role for the UN in Iraq? Vladimir Putin: Your first question is practically impossible to answer. The time that it will take to settle the situation in Iraq depends on the quality of the document that we may adopt jointly. If it is a high-quality and well-considered document which will have Iraq’s trust, the trust of the Iraqi people and if the people see that the international community has truly united and is genuinely willing to help the Iraqi people to restore their sovereignty and help them occupy a worthy place in the world. If it is adopted by the leading countries in the region on which the peaceful reconstruction in Iraq depends to a large extent. If all that comes true, then settlement can be fairly quick and effective. If the resolution is but a “fig leaf” to cover up the events that are happening, then – you know I have talked with the leaders of Arab countries and they say: “Don’t play us for idiots. We will understand everything and we will withhold our support” – if that happens I think settlement will come about all the same. The coalition includes powerful states with powerful economies, large armed forces and sooner or later there will be a settlement, but it will take more time. That is all. As for what we are going to discuss with President Bush at Camp David, this is exactly what we are going to discuss. But I have already said the main thing. My position has already been reported to him. There are still many details, but we have a close and trusting enough relationship and we will try to discuss in detail how to find the golden mean. I think we should have our feet on the ground. And the reality is that today Iraq is controlled by the coalition forces, but we would like to meet the ambitions of all those who are there, the ambitions of all the interested parties. We must find the golden mean that would be best for everyone. This is what we are going to be looking for together with President Bush. He is a good man to discuss it with, probably the best. Question: What is your assessment of the situation in Chechnya? Vladimir Putin: Of course it is a complicated internal political problem for us. You know my position and I am convinced that it is very close to reality. Very close. Of course it all began with separatism and with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The trend of disintegration of the Union spread inside the Russian Federation, including some national entities, such as the Chechen Republic. The military conflict at the time could have been avoided, but it wasn’t for reasons that I am not going to comment on it today. But after Russia recognised the de facto independence of Chechnya, Chechnya did not become independent. We never recognised the independence de jure, but we practically recognised it de facto: all our armed forces, the prosecutor’s office and the police left. The vacuum was instantly filled by destructive elements from radical Islamic organisations, from international Islamic organisations. By the way, this should be borne in mind in the course of settlement in Iraq. Of course we are dealing with an internal political problem and Iraq is an international problem, but we have to be mindful of this and we should on no account create a power vacuum. In Chechnya such a power vacuum had been created and it was promptly filled by, I repeat, destructive elements from radical Islamic organisations. They effectively occupied the republic. And what did they proceed to do? They executed women in squares and then they attacked the neighbouring Republic of Dagestan. They were not content with the space they had gained and they wanted to create a new state from the Black to the Caspian Sea. It always happens that way with organisations and people of that kind. But frankly, if they had not done so, that bloody mess would still be continuing in Chechnya. Today, as you know, we held a referendum there which adopted the Constitution. The Constitution says in black and white that Chechnya is an inalienable part of the Russian Federation. The turnout to the referendum was 80%. That was more than we had expected. Frankly, I had expected a turnout of 60% and that would have been a great success. In reality, 80% turned up. A surprising result for us. It shows what people really want. They want peace, safety and normal life. Now we face another task, the republican presidential election. Only then will the republic’s law enforcement system become meaningful because we will transfer the law enforcement powers to the popularly elected president. That is the second stage. The next and highly important stage is the development and signing of a treaty on the delimitation of powers between the federal centre and the Chechen Republic, which will be given broad autonomy under the Russian Constitution. And the next stage will be the election of the Chechen parliament. As I have said, we have never recognised what happened in Chechnya de jure, but still they have elected a parliament and a president. And now just recently parliament of Chechnya, which called itself “Ichkeria”, passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Maskhadov. Even under the legislation of the time he has been legally deposed. From the Russian point of view there is no number one there, and there is no number one under the former set-up. So what we have to do is to ensure that a president is elected. That is what we are doing. And in parallel of course we will strengthen the law enforcement bodies of Chechnya, which are almost 100% manned by Chechens. The prosecutor’s office, the law courts, the bar and the notary public institutions have been created. The judicial system has been created. We will work to strengthen it and to solve the social tasks, strengthen the economy and create jobs. Question: What is Russia’s attitude to the policy of OPEC on the prices of oil and petroleum products? Vladimir Putin: We are coordinating our activities with OPEC. But we are not members of that organisation and we are not going to join OPEC for the time being. I must say that Russia is interested in energy prices that are fair, but not too high. Because unlike other oil producing countries, we are very concerned about the need to boost the manufacturing sectors of the Russian economy and we believe that excessively high world prices of oil and petroleum products boomerang against us and damage our processing industries. In that sense we are a convenient partner for the main oil consumers. For your information I can say that last month the Russian Federation was producing more oil a day than Saudi Arabia. We have become number one in the world in terms of daily oil output. That’s I think 8.5 or 8.8 million barrels of oil per day. And that does not include gas; we have long surpassed everyone on gas. But we will proceed very carefully not to undermine the world oil market. We don’t want that to happen. The price must be fair both for producers and for consumers. Thank you very much for your warm reception and I wish you all the best.