In his opening remarks President said:
“I wrote the article that was published today to lay out to each of you, to all citizens of Russia, my idea of the strategic challenges that lie ahead. Challenges regarding the present and the future of our country. I invite all those who have something to say to participate in the discussion surrounding these issues. Your views, comments and suggestions will be taken into account in preparing the President’s Annual Address to the Federal Assembly and the practical plans governing our country’s development.”
E-mail address for feedback and suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full text of the article in English will be published.
The Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s Article, Go Russia!:
“Let’s answer a simple but very serious question. Should a primitive economy based on raw materials and endemic corruption accompany us into the future? And should the inveterate habit of relying on the government, foreign countries, some kind of comprehensive doctrine, on anything or anyone – as long as it’s not ourselves – to solve our problems do so as well? And if Russia can relieve itself from these burdens, can it really find its own path for the future?”
“As the contemporary generation of Russian people, we have received a huge inheritance. Gains that were well-deserved, hard-fought and hard-earned by the persistent efforts of our predecessors. Sometimes the cost of hardships really was terrible casualties. We have a huge territory, large amounts of natural resources, solid industrial potential, an impressive list of outstanding achievements in science, technology, education and art, a glorious history regarding our army, navy, and nuclear weapons. By using its authority Russian power has played a significant — and in some periods determinate — role in events of historic proportions.
How should we manage that legacy? How to magnify it? What will the future of Russia be for my son, for the children and grandchildren of my fellow citizens? What will be Russia’s place, and hence the place of our descendants, heirs, and future generations, among other nations in the global labor market, in the system of international relations, in global culture? What must we do to steadily improve the quality of life of Russian citizens today and in the future? To allow our society to become richer, freer, more humane and more attractive? So that Russian society can give to those who desire it a better education, an interesting job, a good income, and comfortable environment for both personal life and creative activity?
I have answers to these questions.”
“An inefficient economy, semi-Soviet social sphere, fragile democracy, harmful demographic trends, and unstable Caucasus represent very big problems, even for a country such as Russia.
Of course we do not need to exaggerate. Much is being done, Russia is working. It is not a half-paralyzed, half-functioning country as it was ten years ago. All social systems are operating. But this is still not enough. After all, such systems only propagate the current model, and do not develop it. They cannot change current ways of life and therefore bad habits remain.
Achieving leadership by relying on oil and gas markets is impossible. We must understand and appreciate the complexity of our problems. We must frankly discuss them in order to act. In the end, commodity exchanges must not determine Russia’s fate; our own ideas about ourselves, our history and future must do so. Our intellect, honest self-assessment, strength, dignity and enterprise must be the decisive factors.
By setting out five priorities for technological development, offering specific measures for the modernization of the political system, as well as measures to strengthen the judiciary and fight corruption, my starting point is my views on Russia’s future. And for the sake of our future it is necessary to liberate our country from persistent social ills that inhibit its creative energy and restrict our common progress. These ills include:
1. Centuries of economic backwardness and the habit of relying on the export of raw materials, actually exchanging them for finished products. Peter the Great, the last tsars and the Bolsheviks all created – and not unsuccessfully – elements of an innovative system. But the price of their successes was too high. As a rule, by making extreme efforts, they opened the door to the possibility of a totalitarian state machine.
2. Centuries of corruption have debilitated Russia from time immemorial. Until today this corrosion has been due to the excessive government presence in many significant aspects of economic and other social activities. But it is not limited to governmental excess — business is also not without fault. Many entrepreneurs are not worried about finding talented inventors, introducing unique technologies, creating and marketing new products, but rather with bribing officials for the sake of ‘controlling the flows’ of property redistribution.
3. Paternalistic attitudes are widespread in our society, such as the conviction that all problems should be resolved by the government. Or by someone else, but never by the person who is actually there. The desire to make a career from scratch, to achieve personal success step by step is not one of our national habits. This is reflected in a lack of initiative, lack of new ideas, outstanding unresolved issues, the poor quality of public debate, including criticism. Public acceptance and support is usually expressed in silence. Objections are very often emotional, scathing, but superficial and irresponsible. Well, this is not the first century that Russia has had to confront these phenomena.”
“The more intelligent, smarter and efficient our economy is, the higher the level of our citizens’ welfare, and our political system and society as a whole will also be freer, fairer and more humane.”
“Russia’s political system will also be extremely open, flexible and internally complex. It will be adequate for a dynamic, active, transparent and multi-dimensional social structure. It will correspond to the political culture of free, secure, critical thinking, self-confident people.”
“Not everyone is satisfied with the pace at which we are moving in this direction. They talk about the need to accelerate changes in the political system. And sometimes about going back to the ‘democratic’ nineties. But it is inexcusable to return to a paralyzed country. So I want to disappoint the supporters of permanent revolution. We will not rush. Hasty and ill-considered political reforms have led to tragic consequences more than once in our history. They have pushed Russia to the brink of collapse. We cannot risk our social stability and endanger the safety of our citizens for the sake of abstract theories. We are not entitled to sacrifice stable life, even for the highest goals. In his time Confucius remarked: “Impatience in small matters destroys a great idea”. We have all too often experienced this in the past. Reforms for the people, not the people for reform. At the same time this will displease those who are completely satisfied with the status quo. Those who are afraid and do not want change. Changes will take place, but they will be gradual, thought-through, and step-by-step. But they will nevertheless be steady and consistent.
Russian democracy will not merely copy foreign models. Civil society cannot be bought by foreign grants. Political culture will not be reconfigured as a simple imitation of the political traditions of advanced societies. An effective judicial system cannot be imported. Freedom is impossible to simply copy out of a book, even a very clever one. Of course we’ll learn from other nations – from their experiences, their successes and failures in developing democratic institutions. But no one will live our lives for us. Nobody is going to make us free, successful and responsible. Only our own experience of democratic endeavor will give us the right to say: we are free, we are responsible, we are successful.”
“The modernization of Russian democracy and establishment of a new economy will, in my opinion, only be possible if we use the intellectual resources of post-industrial societies. And we should do so without any complexes, openly and pragmatically. The issue of harmonizing our relations with western democracies is not a question of taste, personal preferences or the prerogatives of given political groups. Our current domestic financial and technological capabilities are not sufficient for a qualitative improvement in the quality of life. We need money and technology from Europe, America and Asia. In turn, these countries need the opportunities Russia offers. We are very interested in the rapprochement and interpenetration of our cultures and economies.
Of course no relationship is free from contradictions. There will always be controversial topics, reasons for disagreement. But resentment, arrogance, various complexes, mistrust and especially hostility should be excluded from the relations between Russia and the leading democratic countries.
We have many common goals, including absolute priorities which affect every inhabitant on Earth such as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the risk of adverse effects from man-made climate change.
We must have interested partners and involve them in joint activities. And if we need to change something ourselves in order to do so, abandon previous prejudices and illusions, then we should do so. I am of course not referring to a policy of unilateral concessions. Lack of will and incompetence will not gain us any respect, gratitude, or gains. This has already happened in our recent history. Naive notions of the infallible and happy West and the eternally underdeveloped Russia are unacceptable, offensive and dangerous. But no less dangerous is the path of confrontation, self-isolation, mutual insults and recrimination.
Nostalgia should not guide our foreign policy and our strategic long-term goal is Russia’s modernization.”
“I would invite all those who share my convictions to get involved. I would also invite those who do not agree with my ideas but sincerely desire change for the better to be involved as well. People will attempt to interfere with our work. An influential group of corrupt officials and do-nothing ‘entrepreneurs’ are well ensconced. They have everything and are satisfied. They’re going to squeeze the profits from the remnants of Soviet industry and squander the natural resources that belong to all of us until the end. They are not creating anything new, do not want development, and fear it. But the future does not belong to them – it belongs to us. And we are an absolute majority. We will act patiently, pragmatically, consistently and in a balanced manner. And act now: act today and tomorrow. We will overcome the crisis, backwardness and corruption. We will create a new Russia. Go Russia!”
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