Russian President addresses scientific community and business elite of Scotland

Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that similarity in the characters of Russians and Scots will help develop business contacts and friendly relations.

At a meeting with representatives of the scientific, public and business community of Scotland at the Signet Library, the Russian president thanked the Scotsmen for a warm welcome.

As the Scots say, "warm reception is the best treat", Putin quoted in English.

The president pointed out that he was pleased to meet influential representatives of Scottish society.

"On you largely depends the successful development of relations between Russia and Britain. And so this meeting just could not but be held," he said.

Considering that the audience included businessmen, the president described the Russian economy. Its GDP in January-May, according to him, rose by 7.1 per cent. "A robust budget surplus enabled us greatly to ease the tax burden," Putin said. "This in its turn unfettered domestic business and created favourable conditions for foreign investors." Investors, he pointed out, are today attracted "by high yields on invested capital, the existence of modern legislation and stability of the political situation" in Russia.

"To be sure, we have plenty of problems, but we know how to tackle them. This is why we confidently set ourselves the task of doubling GDP in 10 years. A few years ago, even such prospects seemed unattainable. But my country is developing so dynamically that plans often lag behind real life," Putin indicated.

"Russia today offers huge opportunities for your business. It is important to show initiative, without waiting for official agreements and treaties to be signed," he emphasised.

Addressing the audience, the Russian president expressed the opinion that stronger contacts between countries are impossible "unless such authoritative and influential people like you have a willingness to cooperate, find common interests, and exchange experience".

"Such a drawing towards each other has always been shown by the peoples of our countries. Whole dynasties of Scots served Russia truly and well," Putin said. Among them he named Patrick Gordon, the first tutor of Peter the Great, Prince Barklai de Tolli, and Field Marshal Jacob Bruce.

"The forefathers of our great poet Mikhail Lermontov were also Scots, who lived in the County of Fife," the president recalled.

The meeting is taking place in the hall of the legal library, which, according to him, "breathes history, and has an atmosphere of allegiance to law".

"Law and legitimacy are the foundations on which the state must be built and society develop. I think this hall is the most suitable place for talking about problems of the contemporary world, its security system and the significance of international law. These questions today are moving to the forefront," Putin said.

According to him, "Cold War pages are closed, but we have encountered fresh difficulties, contradictions and threats". Among them he mentioned inter-ethnic conflicts, international terrorism, organised crime, drug trade, ecological threats, and mass epidemics.

"They are growing in scale with each year. Globalisation now involves everything: capital, information, politics and also threats. And we must adequately respond to these challenges," the president said.

"I am sure that the most effective mechanism of reaction is our solidarity. We can be helped only by our cohesion, mutual respect and trust," the Russian president said, adding that all this spectrum of issues is constantly present at negotiations with the British leadership.

"We are united in our belief that today it is of fundamental importance to uphold not only norms of international law, but also moral and ethic principles developed by the world community. It is important to bolster the prestige and role of the UN, which remains a universal tool for regulating international processes. It will be no exaggeration to say that the kind of road towards security chosen by the world community will determine the future image of our planet," the president indicated.

Putin said that "his first visit to hospitable and beautiful Scotland was several years ago" and he has "since preserved the memory of the direct and open character of the Scots".

"In this they resemble us, Russians. Perhaps this is why we find it so easy to have mutual understanding both with Tony Blair and George Robertson, who both, I know, come from Scotland. And I am sure that this similarity in characters will to no small extent contribute to the development of business contacts and friendly relations," the Russian president wound up his address.

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