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#18 - JRL 7257
Official web site for the President of the Russian Federation
Staraya Ladoga
July 17, 2003
Final speech at the meeting on problems of the development of small towns of Russia

President Vladimir Putin:

In summing up our meeting, I would like to talk about the strengthening of several structures. In both schools and health care, there is only one goal -- to create centres where the quality of services provided to the population is better. It is clear that this should all be very flexible and correspond to local conditions.

Another very important issue is drug addiction. As you remembered yourselves, a special committee has been created, and I expect that it will work more and more effectively, and there will be a clearance of certain obstacles, including staff obstacles. I agree that this is an important issue, but it is difficult for me to agree with the thesis that the former structures which worked effectively do not work any more, and the new ones are not fully functioning. If the former structures had worked effectively, we would not have the problem of drug addiction. The problem is in fact that they did not work effectively. And all around us, unfortunately, we can see not just poor work, but a merging with the structures which they were supposed to fight against.

The new committee has greater authority, a greater staff potential, and will be well-equipped technically. We will hope that it will earn money effectively. But this is not enough. A system of preventive measures is needed, a system of joint work with health institutes, with study institutes etc. This involves a whole complex of different work.

Specialists in the most diverse fields are gathered here, and I would really like to hear your opinion not just about current affairs, but also about how you envisage development in the spheres where you work. I mean the decisions proposed at state level, above all in the legislative sphere from the standpoint of laws on restricting authority, and on a new quality of municipalities, and on proposed solutions in the financial sphere. I mean amendments to the tax and budget code.

And a word on the comments you made. We will, of course, formulate the according instructions with our colleagues, and they will be delegated further to both the Government and to the Presidential Administration.

I would also like to return to what the head of the municipal formation of Novaya Ladoga said. He put it well when he said that patriotism should be founded on our history. Generally, I think that if we are talking about a kind of unifying ideology, for such a complex, federatively composed, ethnically and religiously diverse country as Russia, one of the most important unifying factors should be general Russian patriotism. And of course, one of the foundations of this is our history. Here, in Staraya Ladoga, this is given sufficient attention. In the country as a whole, it is so far not given enough attention. Unfortunately, it is often not enough to make this patriotism well-founded and viable.

It is not enough for us to remember how handsome, talented and great we were. We need to be like this today. We need for the living standard of our population today to be raised, so that people feel the results of our work on both a federal level and at the level of the President and Government; at both regional and federal level. In this sense, a lot depends on us. And only in this case the foundation that we have talked about now -- patriotism -- will be viable. Only if we and all the citizens of Russia will be proud of our country today.

Thank you very much.

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