Dear friends, colleagues, and heads of state!

Russia has taken special care in preparing this summit, held during the celebrations commemorating Kazan’s 1000th anniversary—the anniversary of one of the most ancient centres of Eurasian civilization. Here, the complex intertwining of both Christian and Muslim destinies, and the mutual enrichment of their cultures and traditions is especially obvious. Kazan’s history and today’s celebrations convincingly demonstrate that partnership and open dialogue between cultures and peoples is the best way towards both peace and progress.

The Kazan summit’s agenda is not just full, it is also strategically crucial. I expect constructive and serious decisions to be made. First of all, this concerns drawing up different plans to reform the Commonwealth. Last year in Astana, we already addressed this question. During the period that followed, we put significant efforts into arriving at a joint resolution.

What are the implications of our deliberations?

First of all, members of the Commonwealth are interested in preserving the association in its entirety and, at the same time, increasing the efficiency of its structures.

Secondly, 15 years have gone by since the founding of the CIS. When determining its relevance today, it is obvious that its present goals clash with obsolete methods and structures. My colleagues have already mentioned this many times, and in different circumstances.

It is one thing to prevent chaos and a snowball effect following the disintegration of the USSR. It is yet another to work effectively towards building close relationships, in accordance with today’s tendency towards development and integration.

Third, we have to develop a new model of integration, virtually in the nearest future. The model should provide adequate room for both the shared interests and the national priorities of Commonwealth states.

Russia suggests to form “A High-level Group” modelled on the UN’s practice of “The Eminent Persons Group” to solve this conceptual problem. Respected members of our country and people well-acquainted with Commonwealth issues could take part in this decision-making process. Not only bureaucrats, but experts in both legal and economic spheres should represent society’s point of view.

Finally, one last, fundamental point. Even though the process of reforming the Commonwealth is a long and difficult one, we must not create obstacles in areas where teamwork has already produced concrete results, where productive cooperation is already taking place. First and foremost, this refers to business partnerships and cultural cooperation.

We are witnesses to the increasing development, already on the new basis, of bilateral relations in the sphere of culture and education.

The initiators of the Forum for creative and academic intellectuals of the CIS met three days ago in Moscow. They have already asked us to support joint cultural and educational projects.

We must regenerate and put new energy into this sphere which is so important for our peoples. We must transpose positive bilateral experience to the multilateral scale. The adoption of the Declaration on cooperation in the fields of culture and education, on the eve of the anniversary of the Great Victory, undoubtedly accelerated this process.

I am convinced that the Agreement on cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres will serve as a tool for new and important projects. In this way, we will favour the development of so-called “human capital” – capital which all our countries consider the major resource for modernization and economic growth.

Shared humanistic values are also an important resource for counteracting extremist ideology, intolerance and terrorism, which threaten stability in the CIS.

During the forthcoming year, it is expedient to put in place a solid frame for cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres. There are many interesting ideas in this regard, such as helping young and talented academics, creating modern research centres, developing national languages, creating sports federations, and holding Olympics.

I will close this address by touching on some questions that we discussed while meeting in small groups.

We agreed that the following CIS summit will take place in Minsk.

Let me inform you that the heads of the delegations, aware of the rigid formal schedule of these festive events, charged me to speak, and unless they have any remarks, precisions, propositions or additional information following my speech, we can begin signing the documents.