Building multi-cultural society easier than in Europe

KISLOVODSK, August 3 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said consolidation of representatives of various nationalities and confessions is crucial for the future of the country. He was speaking at a meeting with North Caucasus youths on Wednesday.

In his opinion, building a multi-cultural society in Russia would be far easier than in Europe, because historically, Russia was developing as a multi-confessional and multi-nation state. “A special culture of interaction has been evolving here for centuries,” Putin said.

He noted a number of negative processes that had been taking place in the world recently, with some of them affecting Russia.

It also stems from the breakup of the USSR. At that time, many were thinking to whom they should attach themselves: in the northwest, they were eyeing Finland, while the Far East was looking up at Japan.

“The Caucasus, too, assumed that if they join some branch of Islam, life would become better. It has remained an erroneous assumption,” Putin emphasized.

“In the spiritual and religious sphere, the people who have nothing to do with traditional Islam began to set rules for us,” he went on to say, “spiritual leaders in the Caucasus realized that, and this, too, helped break the backbone of terrorism.”

Putin reminded however, that many problems are yet to be solved. He recalled that he visited a school during his trip to the North Caucasus in 2000, and saw no equipment there, not even desks. “

“That’s grafting the understanding that we can make things better only if we consolidate our efforts towards developing the country all together, in our territory. It is easier to do it than in Europe, as we are all children of one mother Russia,” the prime minister said.

Putin warned about the danger of radicals getting into government bodies.

“A confrontation of radicals within the government leads nowhere,” he warned.

Speaking about tolerance and xenophobia, Putin cited Europe as an example. “In certain European states there appear problems with women wishing to wear yashmak.. I’d better not speak on the theme because one can immediately be criticized, but still, I’d have a say… Of course, people should be allowed to lead the life they wish, but if they find themselves in a different cultural environment, they should respect the people with who they decided to live.

“If this people regards such behavior as religious and cultural aggression, if it causes rejection, one has to treat it with understanding and not impose his customs.

“I concede there are people of very radical views, but in this event you might go and live in places where these views are a norm.

“When people begin to cross certain lines, say in Europe, if the local population sees that the state is not protecting them, it leads to radicals breaking through into government bodies. Also, there appear radicals on the opposite side who begin to fight them. The situation aggravates. This is a road to nowhere,” Putin said.

The prime minister believes the re-division of borders between Russian regions is inadmissible as it might cause a chain reaction of territorial disputes.

“Potentially, we have 2,000 territorial disputes in Russia, including between certain republics in the North Caucasus, even between very close peoples, practically one people living in different regions by administrative division. This Pandora Box should never be opened in this country. Once we start dividing something, we’ll never stop,” Putin said.

He addressed the participants with a catch phrase from a popular cartoon, “let’s live in friendship, folks.”

Answering a girl from the Stavropol territory, who said dozens of ethnic groups had lived peacefully there for decades, Putin said this experience must be used on a wider scale.


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