President RB Murtaza Rakhimov: Russian federalism is the pledge of country stability in future
President RB Murtaza Rakhimov has taken the floor at the all-Russian scientific-practical conference “National-state formations in history and political practice of Russian federalism”. The text of his speech is given briefly below:
“Dear participants of the conference! Dear guests!
We gathered here today at this representative forum in connection with the remarkable event. 90 years ago the agreement between Central Soviet authority and Bashkir Government had been signed. According to this agreement Bashkir national autonomous Soviet Republic was legitimated in the staff of Russian Federation.
This date is of paramount importance not just for Bashkortostan but for the whole country, because the first national autonomous Republic has appeared de facto in the staff of declared Russian Federation.
The achieved through suffering federative structure of our state is the unique Russian variant of federalism in the whole world. Russia has passed the hard way and as President RF Dmitry Medvedev fairly mentioned in his Message to Federal Assembly “the state policy in these issues was in many respects realized through tests and errors, taking the experience of other states and other forms of federalism into account. But no other multiregional, multinational and multi-religious federation as Russia exists in the world”.
All people, present here, know well enough how difficult formation of every our republic was. At the same time we have to establish that fact with regret that our politicians haven’t yet determined themselves even with the day of Russian Federation appearance. The celebrated Day of Russia is connected neither with January 1918, when Russian federation had been legally established, nor with July 1918, when the first federative state Constitution had been approved.
The essence of federalism is first of all the culture of compromises between central authority and the regions, between large and small nations, between regions and republics. This is the horizontal state structure, which wisely takes social-economic and cultural interests of nations into consideration. If we have harmony in this sphere, the all-sided state strengthening will be final result. And on the contrary the faults towards excessive centralization or regionalization lead to state weakening, bringing no good to its regions.
Bashkortostan has mastered this truth in the course of its centuries-old existence inside the Russian state. Basing on experience of our nation as well as on experience of Baltic nations, Poland, Finland, Transcaucasia and Middle Asia we know that one mustn’t consider the history of pre-revolutionary Russia just as the strictly unitary state. The elements of federalism were observed even in imperial Russia. The history of interrelations between Russian state and Bashkirs is one of the most convincing examples. Bashkirs have joined the staff of Russian state voluntarily on the base of special terms and agreements, especially in sphere of land relations, self-dependency in their internal affairs, customs and religious faiths. The observance of these agreements strengthened the unity of Russian state and Bashkortostan and excessive centralization on the contrary weakened Russian boundaries and shattered its foundations. For 450 years of joint coexistence in the staff of Russian state Bashkirs have accumulated the positive experience.
After February revolution young Bashkir intellectuals have managed to mobilize the nation for establishment of the autonomous republic of Bashkortostan in the staff of Russia, forming solidary military units, quite qualified for that time government and other state structures. Bashkir government searched for support in its beginnings from all more or less democratic parties and groups. At the same time the influential political “white” circles regarded federalism in Russia not just negatively but with extreme hostility. Thereby the adherents of imperial centralism, thinking that they stood for strong and unified Russia, weakened the country, pushing the non-Russian nations to Bolsheviks. It happened to become the decisive step in the civil war. Nations in the multinational country believed that Soviet power intended to settle with them, thus solving the national question. Later it turned out that Bolsheviks refused from many promises and stood for centralization of the power and the state. The hopes for any independence were betrayed. Nonetheless the first and very important step to formation of federative Russia has been done. The agreement between Central Soviet power and Bashkir Government about Soviet autonomy of Bashkiria, signed on March, 1919, had so great historical essence that even the Bolshevist leadership failed to realize it in full measure.
Bashkortostan had invented its own model of public reforms and in this strategy it took the interests of the whole multinational population into account as well as the peculiarities of economic and geopolitical character, inherent only to our Republic. As a result, we’ve managed to remove all contradictions in the course of the reforms, providing the step-by-step transition to new ways of development. At present time Bashkortostan is found in the top10 of the most developed and socially favorable regions of the country.
I am sure that that the long-term positive experience of Bashkortostan proves the advantages of further federalism development, strengthening and deepening of federative relations. Russian regions play noticeable role in this process. Only strong and self-dependent regions can become the reliable support of Russia in solution of the most complicated problems and President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev sets several urgent and concrete tasks before us.
The first thing is that we have to reach the optimal balance between Russian federation and its regions. Second, we have to determine the scheme of optimal placement of territorial federal structures all over the country. Third, we have to work up the mechanism of account and support of regional legislative initiatives. Fourth, we have to build up our national policy on the base of support and development of national traditions and cultures.
We may proudly say that the whole policy of Bashkortostan for the last two decades is aimed at solution of these tasks, vitally important for the country. Let’s take the fourth point for example. Bashkortostan is a poly-ethnic region in staff of Russian Federation so the issues of national education development were always of paramount importance in the Republic. For 18 years we accumulated great experience of national formation. The number of national schools grows up in Bashkortostan every year as well as the number of pupils, studying their native languages. In 1990 pupils were taught in seven languages. Now 15 native languages are studied at Republican schools and teaching is organized in six languages. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fairly said that “our international harmony is one of our main values”. It means that all efforts of state, scientific and public activists RB have to be directed to protection, replenishment and development of these values.
Dear friends and guests!
I am sure that we are all unanimous in our strivings to strengthen the power of our federative state, replenish its glory, develop the culture of our nations and deepen their historical and national self-consciousness. This is the source of strength and solidity, the good for all nations and for the state in a whole.
I am also sure that the materials of your conference will serve to comprehension of the problems raised and to elaboration of theoretical and practical recommendations.
I wish all of you productive discussion and success and good impressions from acquaintance with our Republic!
Thank you for attention!”