Good day to you, dear colleagues.
I address you in such a way because we are doing the same work with you for our country. You are covering what the government is doing and how the state is living. And every citizen in his place has the ability, first of all, to feel what is going on in the state, and secondly, of course, to draw conclusions.
The situation our country is currently in, in my opinion, was entirely predictable a year ago. And everything that has happened in our country this and last year was a coordinated government action, society’s great desire to change life for the better. How it turns out we will be discussing with you today.
2010 was a crucial, starting year for our state, because the new team has come, taking responsibility for the situation in the country. It pledged to change the situation in the economy, to offer and implement measures to improve the economic situation and prevent the economy from continuing to fall further, as it fell in 2009.
Second. Of course, it was necessary to prevent the reduction of social benefits at all costs. At least to pay pensions, social assistance, wages in 100%. Or even better – given the inflation, to increase them so that they at least met the inflation rate. I believe that we succeeded in that. I had already said earlier this year: we managed to stop the fall of the economy and begin growth. Last year showed that the economy grew 4.2%, wages last year rose slightly more than 10%, but not as much as we would like them to, and how it should have been done.
As for the reforms, this is the process our country’s future is impossible without. That is, without reforms the country could no longer live in this state. And it cannot. This is the path that requires the government making decisive steps into the future.
From the experience of reforms in any country of the world we know that the beginning of any reform is always painful. Because it means changes. And no matter how well these reforms are thought out, they often produce unexpected results. Therefore, they should be carried out, above all, very professionally, each step should be thought out, global experience of the countries that have already walked this way should be used. Secondly, of course, it is necessary to always keep a finger on the pulse – how does the society perceive them, how does the public respond to them, which in many cases expresses the views of our citizens.
These were merely the first steps we made in 2010; we have started reforms in seven areas. I repeat that – have started. 2011 will see the continuation of the initiated reforms and starting of new ones. It is impossible to carry out reforms one by one – they can only be introduced systematically, which means – in a complex. That is, the life of our country is harmonically tied to different areas of its activity, different economies – I mean those in industries. I would also like to remind that each region’s economy structure is very different, but people everywhere are the same, that is, in no case must we distinguish between the people of different professions, or their area of residence. We must carry out reforms in such a way that, firstly, they were not impeding but complementing each other, and secondly, we were introducing them quickly to get the final result. Therefore, I pity some cases, where we have losses. I pity the people first of all. There are inconveniences. But without that, if we do not do it, there will be no future for us, nor our children, nor our country as a whole. We all understand it well. Therefore this path is inevitable.
The demands I presently put before the officials of all levels are the same – we must be working effectively, continuously, thinking around the clock, cogitating our every step. Clearly, this is a large system, a mechanism that must work synchronously. It is very important.
What problems are there? Of course, anything new requires some knowledge and confidence in what you are doing. Training such a huge number of officials quickly, and making them act synchronously and efficiently is a very difficult but extremely important task, I think. Simply passing laws and then waiting for them to start working is not enough. We must organize their implementation, create mechanisms that would drive these reforms. And that is most important. So the process involves now not only those, who carry out these reforms, but the majority of the working-age society. And those people, who are not working (I mean the pensioners) must not be made hostage to poor or ill-considered actions of the authorities. I understand that well too. And when I meet people in different places, I very often say that.
Firstly, that they believed that the reforms are aimed at improving the lives of especially those, who have already done their share for us, our generation. These are pensioners. And, of course, all the reforms we carry out will give a positive result for the economy, and the quality of life. Not as quickly, as we would like them to, but over time we will be feeling that the country has begun this movement of modernization, which will only strengthen our state and improve the lives of our people.
So I would like us to discuss these issues today. Of course, very important issue is building a fair state. That means the system of law enforcement and judiciary also needs reform. And we have started them. We are currently studying most of these reforms aimed at improving the protection of human rights together with European organizations. With the Council of Europe, for example. We also invite reputable organizations of the world, in the U.S. to cooperation and partnership.
I would say this is a very exciting issue that will interest you all – the question of freedom of speech. I had many meetings with journalists, who have convinced me that we must have a coordinating authority, advisory council that would respond to all these questions arising in the media and in the society associated with the freedom of speech. And we have established such a council. I have instructed Daryna Chepak to work on this matter; the council includes the officials capable of addressing questions that arise. Undoubtedly, having such information, I will always respond to any situations that occur in our country. The information from this council and from you.
We have started last year laying the foundation for building a strong state, improving the lives of people. This year, we will continue this work. Currently, as never before during 20 years of independence, the government is working in partnership, consistently and responsibly. There are mistakes, errors – no one is immune to them. And I have never denied that. I have always agreed, when there were criticism or comments. They should be responded in a timely manner, if there are mistakes they should be promptly corrected and never repeated.
So I invite you to this dialogue. Please, I am ready to hear your questions.
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