''The question of rethinking the role of federalism in modern Russia is important today''

Artur Khaziev, a columnist for Realnoe Vremya, shares his thoughts after the meeting with Mintimer Shaimiev

On March 2nd, Mintimer Shaimiev met with young Tatar leaders in the technopark Idea in Kazan. Mr Shaimiev participated in it not so much as state counselor but rather as agent of candidate for president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Artur Khaziev, a participant of the event, columnist for Realnoe Vremya, chairperson of the Centre for strategic studies Platform XXI, tells about the issues raised at the meeting.

''21st century is the age of competition for people''

Since the meeting took place the day after the president's address to the Federal Assembly, many topics echoed the points of Vladimir Putin's speech. Besides, the message itself in the pre-election period was not ordinary, but, in fact, represented the current president's vision of the main objectives and priorities in the development of the country for the next six years.

The key point of the presidential address was the country's achievement of outperforming development rates, overcoming the challenges of lagging behind (primarily technological). The message related to it was clearly outlined — talented people are the main resource for development of modern economy, and competition for them and creation of conditions to unlock and realize their talents is the major task. These issues were discussed during the meeting with Mintimer Shaimiev as well.

The 21st century is the age of competition for people. Two factors overlap here. First, the importance of talented specialists has increased dramatically in the modern economy. Second, people themselves around the world have become more mobile, they are more ready to move between cities and countries, and distances have 'shrunk' due to increased accessibility of new modes of transport and the development of means of communication.

This is a serious challenge for the country as a whole as well as for Tatarstan. In the case of our republic, the competition for people with the most economically developed countries is added with high attractiveness of Moscow for talented specialists. These are the realities on the labour market and higher education — they determine the outflow of part of specialists to the capital of the country.

''The key point of the presidential address was the country's achievement of outperforming development rates, overcoming the challenges of lagging behind.'' Photo: kremlin.ru

However, this does not mean that talented people who moved from Tatarstan to Moscow or abroad, as well as other people associated with Tatarstan (for example, representatives and natives of regional Tatar communities), cannot be involved in creative work for development of Tatarstan. Including and in particular – in the work of putting forward the initiatives of state development, improvements, amendments or updating programmes or development strategies. The development of mechanisms for involving this potential in the work can be one of our responses to the objective economic situation, which leads to a significant concentration of talented specialists, including those associated with Tatarstan, in the capital of the country.

How to convey the position of Tatarstan to federal expert community?

The second important point in the context of the president's address to the Federal Assembly is to convey the position of the republic to the federal expert community. Those directions of development of the country designated by Vladimir Putin in the message, especially the transition of the country to advancing development rates as a whole — all this is inconceivable without qualitative elaboration of development plans of separate areas, plans of reforming of separate spheres and so forth.

Certainly, this can be achieved only by involving highly qualified experts and specialists in their development. That is, expert community will be one of the most important operators in the implementation of the new designated development plans of the country. Under these conditions, effective conveying of Tatarstan's positions, opinions and views directly to the federal expert community is a task, the solution of which will help to better reflect the republican interests in federal development programmes.

The examples are not far to seek. Just a few months ago, the whole region discussed a possible growth of the role of huge agglomerations. They called theoretical 'agglomerations' Kazan-Samara, Kazan-Ufa… Similar arguments intensified already in 2016 after the publication of the concept of Spatial Development Strategy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030. The strategy, which is still under preparation, is a new type of document that outlines the main directions of the country's territorial development and state policy in the field of placing the country's economic and demographic resources in space for the medium and long term. Of course, the key tasks in drawing up this (and of any similar scale) Strategy are set by certain state decision makers.

''Can Tatarstan be an 'experimental region' implementing necessary reforms or development strategies in a pilot mode before scaling them to the whole country?'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

However, the role of the expert community can be no less. First, the tasks themselves are set by the decision-maker, including on the basis of consultations and expert opinions – those very experts. Second, it is the expert team that is engaged in transposition of the designated key tasks to a full-fledged development strategy. The specification of directions and steps, different accents, actual weight of different tasks — all this is influenced by direct developers of such documents. Can the intensification of contacts of the republic with such federal specialists be useful? For certain. The involvement of some federal experts in the work on the projects of regional level, participation in relevant activities carried out by the republic (including on general federal issues), conveying of the positions of the republic at federal events of expert communities — the list of specific mechanisms for solving this problem is quite extensive.

It should be noted that it is a 'two-way road'. Certainly, the reflection of regional interests in the country's development programmes is necessary for Tatarstan itself. But positive effect of the opposite direction also takes place. The maximum consideration of the interests and views of the subjects of the federation — it is what will make federal programmes more balanced, realistic, feasible. That is, it will improve the quality of these programmes. Who better will fulfil this important role for the whole country than Tatarstan through its state and non-state institutions?

The question of rethinking the role and principles of federalism in modern Russia is also important today. What expression can federalism have in the context of political model formed in the country? Can the peculiarities of the regions, including in the level of economic development, be a driver of the development of the country as a whole? Can Tatarstan be an 'experimental region' implementing necessary reforms or development strategies in a pilot mode before scaling them to the whole country? These are the questions, the answers to which it is possible to formulate and broadcast to the federal level in co-creation of experienced politicians, young leaders and experts.

Another important point for effective work of the expert community in the republic is the availability of feedback from state and municipal authorities. That is, the question of including into work, the degree of consideration of proposals formed in the expert community.

Of course, the formation of various state and municipal development programmes, strategies, etc. is a process that is influenced by many factors. The main tasks are set directly by managers of a particular level. There is no point in underestimating the importance of the existing balance of interests in development or actualization of different programmes and strategies. However, both leave considerable space for more active involvement of expert potential — through the consideration of additional proposals, ideas, initiatives, developed including on the basis of the priority of long-term prospects of state development.

''We see the initiative of the young generation in the sphere of national-cultural and educational policy, which can adapt Tatarstan to new conditions in the sphere of preservation and development of the Tatar language.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Tatar language: new conditions, new tasks

Recently we have found ourselves in a new legal reality in the field of language policy. New conditions set new tasks in the sphere of preservation and development of the Tatar language. The issues of organizing the process of teaching the Tatar language, Tatar-language education, improving the quality of teaching and the attractiveness of the language are becoming key.

In these circumstances, it seems important to pay attention to the latest proposals in this area. At the latest event, there were presented proposals for the development of Tatar language school. The initiative, developed by a group of national activists and researchers, was presented by Tabris Yarullin and Ayrat Fayzrakhmanov.

The proposals for development of the Tatar language school have been repeatedly presented at various venues. In fact, here we see the initiative of the young generation in the sphere of national-cultural and educational policy, which can adapt Tatarstan to new conditions in the sphere of preservation and development of the Tatar language. In any case, Tatarstan was, is and will be the centre of the Tatar world, and its state institutions, including in the field of education, will remain the main centres of decision-making and implementation of decisions of all-Tatar importance.

The presidential address to the Federal Assembly mentioned the country's multinational character and its federal structure. The formation of state policy in these areas will remain the most important task. For Tatarstan, it is important to designate its views on these issues. Moreover, the role of the leaders of Tatarstan and the Tatar people is key in both cases. Both as the leaders of the second largest people in the country and as the leaders of the strongest in economic and political sense region of the Russian Federation. The ability to broadcast the new proposals from the younger generation to the appropriate level can make it possible to solve these problems more effectively.

By Artur Khaziev
Reference


Chairperson at the Centre for strategic research Platform XXI.

The centre for strategic studies Platform XXI — a Tatarstan think tank, expert and research centre on the main directions of state policy with a focus on the formation of its own initiatives and proposals.

www.platformaXXI.org

Tatarstan

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