is a very important moment for me. I feel honoured to make a speech
about the future of my country here in Norway at the Nobel Institute.
Thank you very much for this invitation which I value very much.
Thank you also for your interest in my country. This is what I
find most pleasant here.
It is difficult to imagine what the content of a lecture about
Russia's future might contain. I would be a little confused, if
I was asked to make a lecture about Russia today. Similarly it
would not be easy to make a lecture about Russia's past: there
may be different views and evaluations of this issue. It is a
well-known joke in Russia, that Russia is a country with an unpredictable
past. (Laughter). So what can be said about its future?
However, I shall make an effort. And I want to say from the very
outset that honestly it was a kind of game between us. I am more
interested in your questions than my answers. For I can perceive
in your questions the main burning issues of interest concerning
developments in the country. It is extremely difficult to cover
all the main issues of Russia in one moment, but I will make an
effort to do so, at least describing the various topics.
So I would like to say that I am not going to deliver a speech
on any one issue. I will try to focus on the main points. Obviously
some of the thesis has to be developed. If you ask me questions,
I shall try to develop these issues. Please note that some of
them have considerable substance which needs to be clarified.
I will elucidate the most important issues.
I am going to speak about five major issues. I am going to speak
about the main points of the philosophy of ten years of transition,
ten years of reforms after Gorbachev. About the general problems
of Russia. I am also going to speak about the economy of Russia,
its condition and the steps that in my opinion need to be taken.
In addition, I am going to speak about security issues. This is
the third point. Fourthly, I am going to speak about Western policy
towards Russia and Eastern Europe during the transitional period,
about European politicians. I was encouraged by the statesmanlike,
striking presentation or Mr Brzezinski. So I feel that I must
respond. I am still a representative of Russia. Fifthly, I shall
try to explain my own personal view on the future of my country.
So I shall start with a very general observation. The first observation
will represent an answer to the question... I think the main question
today is why the reforms have been implemented successfully in
Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and some other countries of
Eastern Europe, in virtually all these countries and not in Russia.
Maybe this is the most important and interesting issue. The answer
is that in 1989-1991 a democratic revolution happened in these
countries during those three years. Here I mean that there was
a complete change of the ruling class, ruling elite, ruling group
in a personal sense. Something totally different happened in Russia.
In Russia there was a kind of nomenclatura clique. The same people
from the Politburo of the Communist Party, its Central Committee,
security services, came out on the top. Not simply other people
from these bodies, but the SAME people. They simply changed their
suits and instead of talking about Lenin, communism and socialism,
began talking about reforms, democracy and the market.
To make this picture more convincing for the world, a group of
young talented and sincere economists were hired, politically
hired, and used as a decoration for the transformation. This move
helped to yield about 50 billion US dollars in loans and credits
for the country. And this money was used to support this development
over the past ten years.
Over the past ten years the transformation of this new nomenclatura,
which came to power through the economic reforms and implementation
of the elements of the market economy or the capitalist system,
was transformed into a semi-criminal nomenclatura. This in turn
engendered the so-called oligarchic semi-criminal opaque economic
and political system. This is what we had at the end of Yeltsin's
Here we also need to note that Russia's transition in such circumstances
taught us a very important lesson. I think that this lesson is
of such scope and such importance that I would like to try and
explain it here. The lesson is that capitalism which is not limited
by civil society institutions, capitalism which is not limited
by a legal system, the rule of law, an independent judicial system,
the culture and traditions of this country, the trade unions,
political parties and social activities - such capitalism turns
out to be a wild animal.
In Karl Popper's book "The Open Society and Its Enemies",
he pinpointed two major enemies to an open society: fascism and
communism. Incidentally Russia's experience revealed that there
is one more enemy - unfettered capitalism without rules, civil
society, law and belief. Russia tends to be such a country.
So keeping all this in mind, I would like to say here, in the
Institute where Mr. Gorbachev made several speeches, that he was
right: it was not a case of revolutionary reform, it was what
he called "perestroika". It was simply a reconstruction
of the previous regime, a changing of the rules. The same people
reconstructed the order, nominated themselves to different posts.
This system still exists.
This is not attributable to a desire by these people to leave
the system this way. The reasons are different and go much deeper.
Yeltsin was sincere in his attempts and the young reformers wanted
to change the country for the better, and Gorbachev wanted the
same. But the problem goes much deeper. The problem lies elsewhere:
the mentality, the approach to the solutions and the vision of
the problems, came from the old days. This is why every complicated
problem they faced yielded the wrong solution. And day by day,
year by year all this has created a system which has really become
a problem for its people.
I would also like to make two important observations here. The
perestroika issue reminds me of another analogy and also clarifies
why the reforms of Peter the Great to transform Russia into a
European country, only really started in 1861, while for several
centuries they had been very difficult and painful. This happened
simply because these were reforms from the top. And that is why
there was such a delay in actual reforms. Perestroika reforms
were also reforms from the top. And that is why transformation
in Russia will be long, difficult and painful. We should not expect
rapid, sudden results in 500 days.
Now I am not going to assess this fact as either bad or good.
This is simply an effect of Russia's history, which we have to
take for granted. As a politician I am operating in this environment,
and this is a condition of my country: like the climate, language,
history or culture, this is a part of my life. So we cannot assess
whether it is good or bad. I simply want to explain the environment
and conditions where I am trying to make things work.
Now it would be easy to explain why the elections of the President
of Russia happened as you perceived them and why Mr. Putin was
elected. To jump from these observations to everyday life, it
should be pointed out that over the past ten years we have had
two wars, one shooting on Parliament, two defaults (and one of
them was very large) and one hyperinflation in 1992 - 2.500 per
cent inflation. After ten years with two wars, one shooting of
the Parliament, two defaults and one hyperinflation - it is quite
understandable why people felt a desire to allow such a person
to be elected, why it is so difficult to address them with democratic
slogans and ideas, as all the developments in Russia over the
past ten years were made on behalf of a democratic power and democratic
President, and people do not want to analyse the simple issue
that we had seven or eight prime ministers, who were former members
of the CPRF Central Committee or representatives of the KGB, except
for one exception - one of them was a Komsomol leader, but he
was only in power for two months.
People do not want to think about that. That is why Russia feels
humiliated after such ten years, why Russian people feel very
uncomfortable. They need to realise that this very humiliation
is due to our own political elite. This was not done to Russia
by our neighbours, or NATO, or Europe, or the United States, or
somebody else. It was done by our nomenclatura class. That is
why the elections of our new President were such a delicate issue,
as this humiliation could have been channelled into different
directions. One direction would involve building on what had been
done, while the other would involve a hunt for the guilty parties.
Now let me try to explain a key issue which is most important
for the people. I am going to speak about the economy. Certainly
such a political context creates a special economic situation.
At the moment we are witnessing economic growth, which is easy
to explain - the prices on oil and import substitution within
the country owing to the devaluation of the Russian currency after
the crisis and less competition on internal markets. So the factors
of this economic growth cannot be considered factors, which are
likely to produce consistent and sustainable economic growth.
This is attributable to certain major, fundamental aspects of
the Russian economic system constructed over the past five years.
These major economic factors, major elements of Russia's economic
system, can be summed up as follows. First and foremost a very
large gap between official legislation, judicial rulings and reality.
Nobody even tries to connect them together. You can see that the
laws and speeches are totally disconnected from reality.
Secondly, the present local administration and business people
are widely using administrative and criminal tools in relationships
with each other. This is very characteristic of Russia today,
where these forces apply different methods to achieve economic
solutions - force, administrative or even criminal pressure rather
than competition, economic relations and laws.
The third tactic is well-known, even famous: it involves control
over major financial flows and resources by small groups, which
have their own interests and control the major financial flows
and the flows of resources. Instead of public control, instead
of transparency, it is controlled by small groups.
The fourth concerns the very low level of morality in Russian
And the fifth is very simple. The people do not think a year
ahead, they are planning for a very short period of time. Clearly
this cannot engender good opportunities for development.
There are clearly two major problems in Russia's economy - the
shadow economy and corruption. I am not going to delve too far
into these two issues. But let me issue you one figure: the shadow
economy in Russia OFFICIALLY accounts for about 40% of the total.
This is quite a large figure and is official. But in reality this
figure is even larger. And they are issuing this figure, as it
completely destroys all ideas about GDP, industrial production,
and inflation - all these figures go to hell: if half your economy
is in shadow economy - what do you know then about your economy?
Obviously the issue of corruption is very important. I am always
asked when I make speeches abroad what the corruption. Before
this meeting I made a speech in Paris to the international banking
community, which gathered together 85 major banks of the world.
They asked me about the corruption and I told them a long story
about this and about what need to be done. And finally they harassed
me once again about this issue and I said "Sorry, but I don't
understand what you are asking me about. What is the meaning of
your question?" I can assure you that Russian oligarchs are
not keeping their money in North Korea, in Saddam Hussein's banks
or in Cuba. They keep their money in New York, Paris, Switzerland
and so on.
So, let us look at this problem from two sides. Not only from
one side, and you know this issue. The day before yesterday the
Prime Minister of France made a speech to us, claiming that he
is so happy that he now has a list of the offshore zones. It was
a dinner, so I did not have the chance to say "Mr. Jospin,
everybody has a list of the off-shore zones: you can find this
list with no problem at any airport. I have a list of your banks
that are working with Russian oligarchs. That is much more interesting."
Now I would like to make a conclusion, which is in my opinion
very important. There are two types of countries. There are countries
that use their labour resources as their major force of development.
For example, South Korea and many European countries. And there
is another type of country which has natural resources as its
major source of development. Russia is such a country. And I would
like to provide you with such an idea for a discussion - that
there may be different strategies for these countries in their
economic transition. Monetary policy and macroeconomic stabilisation
should come first for economies based on human resources. This
provides them with a very strong incentive. It yields good results
comparatively quickly. Institutional reform would be the main
and most important issue for countries that dispose of unlimited
resources, such as Russia. This must proceed. Because if you have
unlimited resources you always uncontrolled pre-conditions for
corruption, you even have a government which is not interested
in anything, as they need it like water or air - where to take
money, especially when the prices of oil and gas are high. Unlimited
resources have made governments, to put it simply, lazy: they
do not want to do anything, they are ready to pay each other,
they are all the time paid by these resources, the corruption
is moving them somewhere, so that it is very difficult to resist
this current. It is like a drug. The pipe for Russia and Russia's
economy is like a drug: instead of basing the economy on the knowledge
that is needed for the next century, we still base our economy
on our natural resources, rather than hi-tech and science, etc.
This is a very important issue, as it seems to me, a thesis which
certainly can be developed and needs to be understood.
From this viewpoint I would say that it is necessary to change
the IMF approach. Why do I say this? In simple terms, I would
say that in the case of Russia, the World Bank should come first,
and the IMF should support what the World Bank is doing. First,
because institutions are absolutely vital in Russia's situation,
and macroeconomic stabilisation has to support these institutional
reforms. Institutions include, for example, such things as education,
the labour market, housing market, all kinds of markets. Institutions
here are certainly understood not as a building, but the institutions
of a market economy. For example, you cannot conduct land reform
in Russia, until you have such monetary or fiscal policy, given
that 25% of the population are not paid at all. Certainly here
you have very low inflation. You know, no population - no inflation.
It is easy. IF you are not paying money, there are no prices and
no problems. But if you have such social tension, you will never
be able to carry out land reform, implement democracy or anything.
That is why this is a very dubious approach and a very special
one of the IMF.
And the error of the Russian government can be summed up as follows:
instead of approaching the IMF with its own programme and explaining
Russia's needs, the Russian government always asks the IMF what
it should do, saying: "tell us what we should do to get some
money from you". And the bureaucrats in the IMF were always
ready to issue a list of the things that need to be done.
My choice of the one of the first institutional requirements
for Russia is something that is not very often used in economic
analysis, but is in my opinion essential. To have a workable market
economy, one of the first institutional changes and the first
institutional requirement concerns the construction of a civil
society. I would like to say that a market economy cannot exist
in a country where policies are not based on human rights. A successful
market economy is not possible there. A simple market economy
is possible everywhere: while many countries have market economies,
a minority are prosperous countries. This is due to the fact that
private property rights are the corner stone and the very foundation
of any economic reform, which is number one in a market economy,
is part of human rights. I am talking here about a common approach
to the human rights of all the people living in Russia and about
the property rights that are the rights of every single individual,
and not only the oligarchs who have private property rights in
Russia. I am also talking here about rights to social security,
an education, different things, including constitutional rights.
Let me try to explain why I think that this is so important.
It is not simply a political or ethical problem. It is an economic
one. A workable market economy needs some kind of feedback from
the population, it must have assistance from the population, there
needs to be a dialogue, where people, government and business
interact. In Russian conditions it is a one-way road, moving only
one way. You can stop paying pensions and then you can stop paying
salaries, you can reduce the salaries and do whatever you want,
but in such circumstances you cannot create an effective market
economy, as a very important element of the market economy - the
labour force - is not used in the proper way. It is not used like
the labour force, like a factor. It is something else, something
different. Consequently it is not working. So if the people have
no rights and no ability to express themselves, you cannot have
a market economy.
Consequently I would merely like to point to the main directions
which are required to implement the programme which could in the
medium-term improve the economic situation in Russia. First of
all, taxes. They have to be transformed dramatically. But what
is the main task of changing taxes? It is a deal. The tax reform
in Russia is a deal between the government and the shadow economy,
it is like an exchange: "we offer you low taxes in exchange
for legalisation". That must be the main thing. This not
simply a reduction in taxes. It is very simple and will not work.
People do not pay taxes today and will not pay lower taxes. The
system should be created in such a way to stimulate the shadow
economy to surface. This tax reform involves a civil deal.
We have special proposals on this issue, and I dedicate a special
chapter to this point, so this is not simply a slogan, it is a
definite goal. By the way, I had a chance to speak to the President
and we discussed this issue for about two hours. And I made this
Certainly and secondly, we require very real, clear, political,
administrative and whatever other protection of private property,
especially of the shareholders. People must feel stability. The
President of Russia must say that he is a man who would do everything
in his power to protect the property of the people. This is extremely
Thirdly, the banking system needs change. We require a transparent
workable banking system. Because what we call a "bank"
here is not a bank. A bank in the West is an institution that
takes money from the people and invests it in industry. A bank
in Russia is an institution that takes money from the budget and
sends this money to Cyprus. It is a different institution. (Noise
in the audience).
That is what I was saying at the very outset: there is a big
gap between words and reality. A bank in Russian conditions means
something different, you know. We require transparency and accountability
Land reform comes next. I must confess that this is certainly
a very complicated political issue. However, we will never make
any progress without a land reform. Without private property and
land - here I am not going to speak here about private property,
as I would like to raise a different issue - without land as a
civilian right we cannot move our economy forward. No one had
any guarantees and no one had any confidence that this would work.
This was the case for a long time. That is why it is so important.
There is a special system for doing this. But this is a very important
issue, as the whole privatisation issue is linked to the land
Bankruptcy law and enforcement of the bankruptcy law - this is
the only way to restructure industry. And this is the only way
to improve privatisation results. We cannot use administrative
methods to change the privatisation results, we cannot use force
or bureaucracy, or nationalise them. This is all impossible. But
we need to use an economic mechanism to alter the results, as
they are extremely bad for Russia's economic transition. For privatisation
was handled in a very special way, I would say very counter-productively.
And bankruptcy is needed, as we have witnessed over a 10-year
period a virtual 60% decline in industrial production and 50%
decline in GDP and yet not one single bankruptcy, and no unemployment.
This is strange, isn't it? (Noise in the audience).
That is why I did not start with these figures, because what
could I do with these figures? I would like to explain you here
the substance, and not the figures. Figures may differ here.
Investor protection, which requires stability, legal security,
social responsibility, debt management. Obviously the outflow
of capital from the country must be restricted - but it derives
from my previous statements. It is not a special thing. It is
the result of these changes. It is the end of the day, but not
the morning: in the morning nobody will start to fill up what
is now missing.
We definitely need an independent judiciary and functioning judiciary.
These are eight or nine points: these are the major steps that
Russia must take to alter the situation. Here I would like to
add that it is crystal clear what should be done with the economy
in Russia. Everybody knows what needs to be done. The game with
different programmes is already over. Everybody knows that. The
question lies in a different area: "Who can do that?"
"who is prepared to do that?" "Who has the political
will to do that?" For this implies violation of the interests
of very influential groups. It is not an intellectual or professional
question about what needs to be done. It is a serious question:
how should it be done and who will take the relevant steps? And
the real problem is whether the individual who must take these
steps is capable of taking them or wants to take them.
Before I answer these questions, I would like to raise another
issue - security, because I think that this is another part of
Russia's life and future linked to the economy. I would like to
say that Russia is, as you know, at the moment the country with
the longest borders and most unstable regions in the world. We
have the longest borders in the world populated by the largest
part of the world poorest population. Maybe half of the poorest
population of the world lives at our borders. And that certainly
creates considerable emotions and tensions. Now we have only one
secure border, that is the Western border. It is interesting to
note, but this is a real change over the past ten years. Our most
unstable borders are on the South and the South-East. There are
different threats there, and one of them is terrorism.
Here I am approaching a very painful issue, which concerns the
conflict in Chechnya. I would like to start with what is in my
opinion an important perception: there is a real threat in this
region. Not only for Russia. Developments in Chechnya over the
past three years have led to the emergence of special troops,
which I would call "militarised criminals", who are
prepared to start war in different places, if there is corresponding
demand. Simply, a new service is now in demand - war, you give
some money and you get whatever you want. From that viewpoint,
this is a real treat. I would also suggest that you look very
carefully around Central Asia, Tadjikistan, Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan
and not only in Chechnya. It has very deep roots.
These roots are poverty, no future and certainly widespread extremism
which develops rapidly, and a lot of weapons, and there are forces
that are fanning the flames. Consequently there is a real threat.
And this threat has a future, I mean here a development potential.
And Russia is the first to confront this threat.
Another side of this issue concerns Russia's handling of this
threat. I strongly opposed the war in the Chechen Republic. I
was very critical back then and I am still critical. I think that
this war has a dead end, given the way in which the government
is implementing its policy there. And I think that we should have
adopted a completely different approach to resolve the conflict
in Chechnya, including the fight with terrorism certainly. My
views on this issue are well known. Indeed this was my principal
position even during the elections and that affected my election
results very strongly, as a kind of a military euphoria reigned
in the country. Now many people see that this conflict has reached
an impasse: lots of blood is being spilt, but no solution is being
found, while the criminal situation there... This is a real problem
which requires a very serious approach and serious thinking to
find a solution.
One issue that has become very important concerns the anti-ballistic
missile treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States.
I think that you know the details, but I would like to tell you
that there are different ways of resolving these issues. I am
ready to agree that the Americans have a right to make an umbrella
against the launch of anti-ballistic missiles by terrorists. However,
so does Europe. So my solution is different - and I have discussed
this issue several times with both Yeltsin and Putin. Let us make
two umbrellas and leave this treaty untouched. Russia has at the
moment six thousand warheads and the US has about 7,500 warheads.
Today no system is capable of stopping the "rainfall"
of nuclear warheads, if this were to happen. But it is possible
to make a system that will protect the country from 20 warheads.
20 missiles or something similar. Europe needs it as much as Russia.
Let us make two systems. The American system will protect them
and we are going to protect Russian and Europe from anti-ballistic
missiles. This will be based on Russian military technologies.
As you know, and as all experts know, the Russian missile complexes
S300 and S400 are better than "Patriot". That is based
on testing. The Americans know this as well. You can check the
results of the tests in Greece, when Greece was buying S300 and
S400 for their Cyprus needs and so on. So this is something that
is very serious. This is a common issue: this involves moving
Russia towards a new security system and really integrates Russia
in the new environment. If we are going to make such things happen,
it would be much easier to speak about Russia's future. Basically
because shaking hands will simply be just like Mr. Clinton's visit
to Moscow. As he was meeting Yeltsin, he was coming to Moscow
simply to ask Yeltsin: "What are you doing here?" Yeltsin
responded: "I am implementing reforms." "What kind
of reforms?" - "Radical reforms." - "Oh, great,
Mr Yeltsin..." Simply shaking hands and praising - that's
We want to move forward, we need to achieve something more real.
This anti-ballistic missile system is one such thing. It is not
simply a slogan. The people from Russia's General Staff (Headquarters???)
and American... have been working on this, so this issue has already
been discussed. And it is very hard to raise it onto a special
plane, as it is necessary to move the public opinion in Europe,
etc., and Americans may have doubts about that, but every time
I talk about this issue, everybody says: "that is interesting".
I would like to touch upon the following issue myself in order
to be provocative. First of all there is an easy answer on the
question: "what should the West do?": the West must
put its own policies in order, not only towards Russia, but in
general. And that would represent the best possible form of help.
Because we see that Western policies have at least two principal
starting points - one is human rights and the other is the so-called
"realpolitik". If this "realpolitik" goes
together with human rights at the same time in two different directions,
we feel a little confused. You can observe these problems in very
practical areas - the voting at the European Parliamentary Assembly,
the European ministers who say: "we apologise for the voting
of this European Duma, we do not know what those people were thinking
about." And this happens every time. It is very hard to put
all this together. It is a special experience one feels about
developments in Kosovo... I don't know what you think, but now
you see that there have been no political changes there: instead
of Albanian refugees, now you have Serbian refugees,... I don't
want here simply to criticise, it is very easy to criticise.
In this conflict, individuals were killed, in order to protect
the human rights of the other side. That is what happened in this
conflict. I am not going to moralise, I merely want to explain
that there was a different solution. And I want to provide you
with this solution. Instead of making this television show in
Rambouillet, it was simply necessary to come to Moscow and push
the Russian government to stop supporting Milosevic. In this case
there would be no need for the bombing. Because the key was in
Moscow, and not in Rambouillet. That was a diplomatic failure,
a complete diplomatic failure. This was the cause of that disaster.
If they had not been afraid, they would not be in the complete
mess, they would have come to Moscow and pressed Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin
to move it in the right direction, simply because they were afraid.
And it was possible to do this six months earlier. And nothing
would have happened. And the Russian diplomacy was able to do
this, but it was necessary at that time to be more sophisticated
with the solution.
I can also tell you about different things... but let me report
on the most recent events. Now Russia's citizens in Moscow are
in most cases unable to obtain a visa to Europe. The embassies
of European countries in Moscow ask people to provide them with
different certificates, in actual fact three different papers.
If you would like to go to the Schengen countries, you should
give them one paper, proving that you have paid all your taxes:
this is very important for Paris, for example, the second paper
should indicate that your company has paid the taxes, and the
third proves that you are on holiday. And you can hand in these
three papers into the window, after spending two or three days
in a queue.
First of all I would like to say that I can guarantee that not
a single member of the Russian mafia is queuing at the embassies.
I do not know how these people obtain their visas, but I can assure
you that the people standing for five days in a queue are not
from the mafia. And when a person wants to come for three days
to Europe for sightseeing, to understand how people live in Europe,
because one of the presidential candidates Grigory Yavlinsky said
that Russia must become a part of Europe: they want to actually
see what it looks like. When a person comes from Novosibirsk and
spends five days in a train for a trip to Moscow to obtain a visa,
he has to stand in a queue for another five or seven days. And
then he spends another three days exchanging faxes that his company
has paid the taxes and then his holiday is finished... In this
case, it is hard to explain where Russia should move to and which
direction it should take. The Russian people do not need miracles
any more. They need something concrete, they need an understanding
of where we are moving, what is the future, how people can live
in a different way, how it is organised, how it can be. If we
are invited to stay with a European family, the door should be
open, so that people can take a look for themselves.
Unfortunately, everything has been moving in a different direction.
I understand all the constraints, all the threats and worries,
but it is very hard to convince people of anything, if you do
not want to show them anything. Or let's take another example,
television. We have European news in all languages except Russian,
but we need Euronews in Russian - it is about 300 mln people,
because the whole of the former Soviet Union is a Russian-speaking
territory. This is important. It would be better if the European
Commission spent money on things like this. This is really important,
as people are extremely interested in developments in Madrid,
about the Prime Minister of Spain, last week, especially if there
are stories like the one about Mr Clinton or something similar.
People need to see a different political culture. Russian television
is terrible, in terms of political culture. We need to perceive
that the news can be presented differently. Then people will compare
things and end up saying: "we don't like what you do",
but if they have never seen anything different - how can they
move forward? You in Europe have been educating each other all
the time, since the beginning of the century, especially after
the Second World War. We have been in isolation, and in this sense
we are still in isolation. The James Bond movies shown in Russia
are a good thing, but that is not the solution. That's the only
thing that is coming... News is absolutely necessary and something
needs to be done here. This policy should be clear and understandable.
Now I am approaching the most important aspect of Western policies.
The major political elite of the West - and you can read it in
your newspapers - considers Russia, or, to be more precise, the
Russian people as a nation which does not understand democracy,
market economy, the rule of law or whatever. They simply need
a strong leader, to have this leader as a friend to go to the
sauna, to say that he has a strong handshake, sometimes to give
him some money if he needs it: he will take care of these crazy
people and we will be friends and that's it. The last articles
in the Washington Post make exactly these assertions: we must
not interfere, we don't care about that, the missiles targeted
at us are the only thing that matters to us... This is the wrong
approach. Perhaps this is the main issue, if the Western political
elite thinks that the Russian people are simply "second class"
citizens and they simply have a friendly Russian leader (sometimes
they can kill people as in Chechnya, but this is not a problem)
and it is important for them to be protected against Russia's
military possibilities - this will never work. This will really
isolate us and we feel it. Maybe it is not expressed and maybe
I, if I were Foreign Minister of Russia would not speak about
it, but this would be the driving force of my actions. And it
is really visible. This has nothing to do with the feelings of
the people: the people in Europe and the United States have a
different approach towards Russia. They simply transferred this
responsibility to the politicians. They want to help, they want
to be friends, they feel that they are being deceived by the politicians.
Why? Because they don't understand Russia. And they know that.
They simply don't understand, they are afraid and they are using
such an approach. It happened several months ago in their approach
to Yeltsin: it was the wrong approach to focus solely on Mr Yeltsin
personally. He was the only person that the West was speaking
to and their policies were totally reliant on him. But we have
a country and a society, it may not be developed and it may not
be a civil society, but still...
Russia and Norway have different histories. Russia and Europe
or the US have different histories. We have different histories,
but we are a single civilisation. Just look at our culture and
at our history - we are a single civilisation. And the next 21st
century will the century of civilisations rather than histories.
Look at the unification of Europe, for example. That is why we
need a different approach to each other. I said that the Russian
nomenclatura was involved, I would like to say that a lot of people
who were very strong during the cold war are still in office,
in Western countries as well. So, we have our own problems and
that is also a problem, of a different type, but still a problem,
because the policies are still being made in the same direction.
We are one and the same civilisation and that means that our interests
will coincide in the nearest future.
Now, coming to the end... What about Russia's future? A lot of
people have been trying to guess it... If you read essays and
studies about Russia's future where people are making guessing
what Russia would be become - liberal , social-democratic or conservative...
There is no answer, this is the wrong perception. In my view there
is such a fairy tale in Russia that a horseman is riding along
the road and approaches a stone, where it is written "if
you go to the right you will lose your horse; if you go to the
left, you will lose your head; if you go straight ahead you will
be hungry and cold... So this is a choice that the Russian politicians
and intellectuals face today - which direction Russia should take.
And my answer is different. My answer is that the person who
is approaching this stone is not a horseman: this is a person
who is not able to move, either left, or right, or straight ahead.
After 80 years of living in very special conditions, we have lost
this ability to choose a road. What is my road - my road is not
to show the way to the country, not to make a prescription, but
to give the country its voice. And the country will be able to
speak loudly and express its will, ...freedom of speech. My task
is to give the country an ability to move, to give the country
hands like private property, like something the country can use
to do something - a workable economy... My task is to give the
country the legs which would straighten the body - like the rule
of law, the feeling that the law must work... My task is to give
the country a head to understand that the life of every Russian
citizen is something extremely important... The main task of every
Russian politician is the life of every Russian citizen, it must
be in the head. And in the soul it will be Russian culture, Russian
traditions, and Russian specifics, if you want. If my generation
does this, Russia will find an answer to the question as to where
Russia wants to go.
So, Russia's future is Russia. And I am absolutely convinced
that my country will take the right direction. Thank you. (Storm
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