On June 12, 2009, the Russian Federation will celebrate its national day – the Day of Russia, which is 19 years old. It was conceived at a difficult and heady time when our country was facing a very important historic choice. And we not only consciously adopted it but survived the difficult years that involved becoming a new democratic Russia.
The origins of this public holiday are there, in that choice of the Russian people. But its roots go deep into the history of our country and the long-standing desire of our people for freedom and independence, for a national unity conceived in the name of freedom, civilized development of the country and a better life for its citizens.
And today we may proudly say: a lot has been successfully done to achieve this goal. We have laid a solid foundation for steady economic progress. Most importantly, we have managed to improve the quality of our people’s lives, standards of living in Russia have gone up considerably. Being firmly convinced that real strength of any state ultimately resides in its nationals, the Russian Government has ensured unhindered access to healthcare and education for each Russian citizen, developed state-backed programs stimulating their intellectual and creative growth.
Despite the severe global financial crisis Russia stays economically and politically strong. The investment climate and conditions for business activities in our country remain favorable. Noteworthy, by the end of 2008 Russian investments abroad constituted USD 91.3 billion and for the first time in recent years surpassed foreign investment inflow. A coordinated action was undertaken by the President and the Government of Russia to devise together with other nations effective measures aimed at lessening the world recession’s adverse consequences.
Russia pursues a dynamic foreign policy both at the regional as well as the global level. She does not have imperialistic designs but she does have her own national interests. Our country fully recognizes its responsibility for maintenance of world security and is prepared to constructively cooperate with other responsible nations to find solutions to numerous challenges the humankind is being confronted with. We strongly believe that today’s challenges and threats – such as international terrorism and religious extremism, drug trafficking, spread of weapons of mass destruction and means of their delivery, regional conflicts, global poverty – are universal problems requiring a concerted and consistent response from the whole international community.
Russia pays special attention to the development of her relationship with Islamic countries, the Muslim Ummah. In 2005 we became an observer at the OIC. Today I avail this opportunity to once again thank our Pakistani friends as well as partners from other friendly Muslim nations who supported our candidature. We intend to further strengthen our cooperation with the Organization and its member states. In this context I would like to quote my Minister, Sergey Lavrov, who said that Russia considers herself as an integral part of the Islamic world, and she will not let anyone to drive a wedge between her and the Muslim Ummah. It is also worth mentioning that there are more than 20 million Muslims living in Russia – in a free country where every religion is sacred and being respected. We have got 4750 mosques including the largest in Europe which is called “The Heart of Chechnya”.
Among our high priorities is steady development of partnership relations with Pakistan. This aim was clearly reflected in Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept approved by President Medvedev in July 2008. In recent years a solid foundation has been laid to maintain and further enhance mutually beneficial Russian-Pakistani cooperation in the world arena. Our countries actively interact in solving pressing international problems, support each other and cooperate within the framework of such key international organizations as the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. One illustrative example of such cooperation is Russia and Pakistan’s significant contribution to the success of the special international Conference on Afghanistan held under the aegis of the SCO in Moscow in March, 2009. At that forum regional countries adopted a concrete plan of actions which will undoubtedly give a positive impetus to the Afghanistan settlement process.
Russia and Pakistan remain partners in global struggle against international terrorism and religious extremism. We appreciate the role of the Pakistani Government taking steps to eradicate this menace from the Pakistani soil and establish the writ of state all over the country, though we do understand that this is not an easy task to accomplish.
Positive trends in bilateral economic cooperation have also become more visible. For instance the bilateral trade turnover has increased and reached USD 600 million. But, speaking frankly, this is a meager figure taking into account the vast potential for growth of our trade, economic and investment ties. We can and must do a lot more. In our view the recently formed Russian-Pakistani Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation could give a necessary practical impulse to our economic partnership. We hope that this body will start its work as soon as possible helping turn into reality mutually beneficial projects in the field of energy, oil and gas, transport infrastructure, etc. There is a long road ahead but we are sure we will make it.
We are absolutely confident that further strengthening multi-faceted cooperation and partnership bonds between Russia and Pakistan not only fully meets the interests of Russian and Pakistani people but also promotes regional peace and prosperity.