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Crisis Highlights Uncompetitiveness Of Russian Economy - Medvedev


The global financial crisis has highlighted the uncompetitiveness of the Russian economy and forced the country's leadership to reconsider approaches to its further development, President Dmitry Medvedev told Swiss media in an interview on the eve of his visit to Switzerland.

About his recent article published in Gazeta.ru and his tough comments regarding the state of affairs in Russia he acknowledged that over the past year "a number of things have been reconsidered." The Russian economy has proved uncompetitive in the context of the crisis, Medvedev explained.

"This is a hard test. All of us underestimated the effects of the crisis on the economy in our country," he said.

The economic slump "has forced a tougher attitude to our priorities and more radical, firmer decisions," in the first place, those concerning the structure of the economy.

"What are other benefits of the crisis, apart from the fact that it is a colossal test?" Medvedev said. "It prompts taking a fresher look at life. But for this slump, we would probably still be inertia-driven."

As for the economy's transition to the innovative track of development, Medvedev said that "in some cases we may take such steps rather quickly, and in others - I have no illusion about that - we shall have to work on these issues for a long while."

The president acknowledged that reworking the current economic model, inherited from the USSR, would be very hard and large-scale investments would be essential.

The raw materials export bias of the economy can be changed within a matter of several years, if one acts consistently. Then, in five-ten years' time it will be possible to create a separate high-technology industrial cluster, Medvedev believes.

In doing this it is important to ensure the yet-to-be created new economy must be at least comparable in scale to the raw materials production sector, he said.

"That does not mean that we should stop relying on oil and gas altogether. We shall certainly be exporting them and expanding energy cooperation with the other countries," Medvedev said. "But our new economy is to acquire some appropriate proportions. I believe that this is a soluble task and it can be resolved in a relatively near term."

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