President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate you on Russia Day. This holiday marks the centuries-old, uninterrupted path of our Fatherland; our achievements and victories; the pivotal, breakthrough stages and the unending progress to new heights of development. The main credit for the renewal of the country, the strengthening of the state, always goes to its citizens, their work, unity and devotion to the Fatherland. We know this, and not just from history.
The sweeping transformations of the 90s changed the lives of modern generations. We ourselves lived through this difficult, dramatic period. The radical changes affected all branches and levels of government, economic and social relations. Changes of this scale and depth always have varied consequences. Russia, our people have not only lived through a rapid leap forward to a new life – and this is something without which development would be impossible – but also through extremely dangerous, alarming times when statehood was weakened, and the foundations of society were eroding and vulnerable.
However, all of these difficulties were overcome. Year by year, as democratic institutions developed and society opened up, there was a growing understanding of the importance of our roots and traditions, a growing realisation that progress can be made only in a strong, independent country and that the state’s power is derived from political stability, common goals and the consolidation of society.
Together, we were able to preserve the unique diversity of the Russian people, prevent the obliteration and devaluation of the principles of citizenship and patriotism, secure the sovereignty of our country, and clearly define the national interests of Russia. We learnt how to stand up for them, relying, among other things, on historical experience. And this coherent understanding of Russia is our most important possession.
The outstanding achievements of the National Award winners are a shining example of devotion and respect for the Fatherland. Once again, from the bottom of my heart I would like to congratulate you on the high praise that your work in the arts and sciences has garnered.
In order to achieve success in the economy, in social development, we must understand, hear and respect each other, cherish what has already been done for the Fatherland to improve the quality of the people’s lives, their security. We all need to focus on a positive, creative agenda. Each of us is able to make our own contribution to strengthening Russia. This is our duty to the Fatherland, our responsibility for its present and future.
I would like to propose a toast to a free, prosperous Russia, to the well-being of its citizens! Happy Russia Day!