Introductory Remarks at a Joint Meeting of the Security Council and the State Council Presidium on Enhancing Protection of Vital Infrastructure and the Population from Natural, Technological and Terrorist Threats 2003-11-13 20:29:00 The Kremlin, Moscow Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, Today on the agenda we have a range of issues regarding our preparedness to protect ourselves against possible technological, natural and terrorist threats. The focus today will be on the sites and facilities of the greatest importance to our national security that must have priority protection. We made a conscious choice to raise these issues at a joint meeting of the Security Council and the State Council Presidium. First, because these problems concern every region in the country, and second, because we can find effective solutions only by uniting our potential, resources and administrative efforts. We need to do this in the interests of ensuring the smooth functioning of our entire national economy and state social services, and above all, we need to do this in the interests of our citizens’ safety. Today we will analyse the state of affairs in this area and identify the priorities for our work, including in the long term. The first thing I would like to draw to your attention to is the noticeable increase in technological disasters. Experts estimate that they now account for more than 70 percent of all emergency situations. Of course, worn out infrastructure is a primary cause of this negative situation, but this is a problem that can be substantially remedied if the organisations and officials concerned worked in strict accordance with the demands and rules regulating their activities. A large number of accidents and disasters take place precisely because people do not follow the standards and operating rules, and also because of poorly qualified personnel. Officials shirking their responsibilities for ensuring security at individual chemical plants is another contributing factor. The second focus of our analysis today is how prepared we are to deal with natural disasters and their consequences. The damage caused by floods and storms, earthquakes and forest fires comes to billions of roubles. There are some losses we cannot just replace – the loss of human lives. Natural disasters kill thousands of people and it is simply our duty to develop a system of clear and precise preventive measures to protect people from them. Not only are people often unprepared for natural disasters, they also do not know how to react when emergencies happen in the workplace. We now urgently need a clear, comprehensive and modern state policy to protect people and potentially dangerous sites and facilities from technological and natural disasters and from terrorist threats. All the separate components of this security policy should be worked out in detail and linked together in a single system. We must, therefore, step up our work in several key areas. Most importantly, we need to delimit terms of reference and responsibility in this area between the different agencies responsible for security. This concerns not only the different levels of state power and state agencies, but also the responsibilities of the directors heading the organisations that build and operate these sites and facilities, and it also concerns their owners. We need to avoid any overlapping of functions and ensure that each agency and responsible person concentrates their efforts and resources on their own concrete areas of responsibility. We also need to ensure the smooth cooperation and coordination between all the organisations working in this area. One of the most urgent tasks is to draw up standard management documents and decisions and universal technical security measures needed in emergency situations. The next priority area is state supervisory functions at sites and facilities that are listed as being of critical importance and are in private hands. In carrying out this state supervision, we must remember that its purpose is to protect the vital interests of the country. This is obviously a complex question and so we have to work it through in detail and back it up with clear legislation regarding the powers of the state agencies concerned. Finally, there is the question of establishing a quality and complete legal and regulatory base for this area. Many laws on environmental protection, protecting the population and territory from emergency situations and technical regulation have already been approved and are now in effect, but regulation and legislation is still required for some important questions. I would like to ask you to examine these subjects today.