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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 11, 2003

11 July 2003
Shaimiev Promotes Shared-Sovereignty Principle For Russian Federation...
Speaking at a conference titled "Constitutional Status of the Region in the Russian Federation and Other European Countries -- the Role of the Regional Legislative Bodies in Strengthening 'Unity in Diversity'" organized by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe on 11 July in Kazan, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said, "Given that historically Russia was built either by means of gradual conquests or voluntary entry of different states, ethnic and confessional factors of federal relations will always remain important [here]." He promoted the role of federalism, "which is not only a political system, but an acknowledgement of peoples' rights to defend their interests," simultaneously with the process of regional integration.

Commenting on the current situation of federalist development in Russia, Shaimiev noted that "there are still voices calling for the re-establishment of a unitary state in Russia." As an example, he noted that in 2002 Moscow passed amendments to the law on the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation that effectively halted Tatar script reform, promoted by the World Tatar Congress and Tatar State Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 27 November, 3 December 2002). Shaimiev said that the amendment represented an interference into the exclusive right of his republic to decide on its state language, stipulated by Article 68 of the Russian Constitution.

Shaimiev said that Tatarstan will resume promoting the principle of shared sovereignty for building a true federation in Russia, where regions voluntarily hand over some of their powers to the federal government. He said the republic is an example of stability acquired by maintaining the balance between interests of different ethnic and confessional groups.

...As Russian Presidential Staff Admits Drawbacks In Current Federal Reform...
Deputy Russian presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak, who headed a presidential commission on delineating the responsibilities of the federal, regional, and municipal levels of government, acknowledged in his speech at the conference that "the federal reform currently introduced in Russia is imperfect because there are still no mechanisms for implementing it. Meanwhile the success of federal reform is vital for other ongoing reforms in Russia."

...And European Official Promotes Regional Policies As Key To Economic Development
Giovanni Di Stasi, president of the Chamber of Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe, said during the conference that his organization stood for promoting the role of European regions by having them involved in political decision making. He outlined that modern Europe has come to reassess the role of autonomous regions as an inspiration to economic development.

Di Stasi also praised the organization and level of the conference, which was attended by representatives of the Council of Europe, Russian Federation Council Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Torshin, Russia's Peoples Assembly Council Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov, Russian State Duma deputies representing Tatarstan, and representatives of the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi