'Foreign policy does not imply isolationism’ – Putin
In discussing the global economic situation, Putin warned on the depth of the crisis and the lack of strategies to confront it.
"It should be recognized that no reliable options for overcoming the global economic crisis are in sight,” he stated. “The debt troubles of the Euro zone which is gradually sliding into recession is just the tip of an iceberg of unresolved systemic problems faced by the global economy."
Putin provided a stinging rebuke of “the West’s” handling of the economic crisis, which, he says, has “eroded” the leadership roles of major western powers, including that of the United States.
"The deficit of new development models against the background of eroding leadership of traditional economic locomotives such as the United States, the European Union and Japan is slowing down the dynamics of global economy,” Putin emphasized.
Meanwhile, the increasing quest for decreasing energy resources is leading to market confusion.
“The ongoing struggle for access to resources has intensified, provoking fluctuations in mineral commodities and energy markets," he added.
This convulsion is pushing western governments into prescribing what Putin describes as a “bombs and missile democracy” around the world, and particularly in the Middle East, which is grappling with fallout from the so-called Arab Spring.
Putin said it was crucial that the global community avoids a repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria.
“The tragic developments in Libya indisputably stand before our eyes and undoubtedly their repetition should not be permitted in other countries, for instance, in Syria," he said.
We see how contradictory and imbalanced the reform process in North Africa and the Middle East is, he added.
“Russia will remain independent”
Meanwhile, in the face of the multiple global challenges, Russian foreign policy does not imply isolation but integration in the international environment, Putin said.
"The foreign policy of Russia was, is and will remain independent; it is consistent, retains continuity and reflects a unique role that has evolved over centuries that this country plays in world affairs and in the advancement of civilization," the Russian leader said.
"It has nothing to do with isolationism or confrontation and implies integration in global processes."
One step toward integrating Russia more closely into global processes is to cancel visa formalities with the European Union, Putin advised, saying that any rapprochement between Russia and the European Union "is impossible without such tasks as easier visa formalities."
"Russia is ready for such step now," he stressed.
At the same time, Putin said Russia's image is distorted abroad and does not reflect the actual situation in the country.
"We must acknowledge at this point that Russia's image abroad is mostly shaped by others, not us. Therefore, it is distorted and does not reflect the actual situation in the country, or its role in global civilization, science and culture," Putin said.
One of the factors affecting Russia’s image abroad has to do with the Russian language, one of the official languages in the United Nations, which, according to Putin, is “not being fully implemented.”
In direct comments regarding Russia-US relationship, Putin said it was important to maintain an open line of dialogue between Moscow and Washington. This is especially important given the present challenges facing the global community.
"Given Russia and the United States' status as major nuclear powers, the solution of many of the global and regional problems depends on them, of course,” he stressed.
Trust, he added, is paramount in this bilateral relationship.
“In times when problems arise in international affairs,” he said, “constant and trustful dialogue between them acquires additional importance."
Putin delivered his comments on an official day of mourning following devastating floods that claimed over 170 lives in Russia’s Krasnodar region. Putin demanded special attention be given to the victims of the tragedy.
"The Russian Ministry of Regional Development should carefully inspect all households jointly with the regional authorities, the Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Interior Ministry," Putin told a conference of Russian ambassadors and mission heads at the Foreign Ministry. "It's going to be difficult to live in these houses now; they will have to be rebuilt.”
The Russian leader paid special attention to the plight of the children who were on vacation in the region.
“All the children should be taken out to recreation camps where they could rest and recover themselves," he advised.