Medvedev urges rapid modernization of Russian industry
President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday called for an accelerated modernization of Russia's economy, saying political will was needed to force a major overhaul of industry and education, DPA reported.
In a speech at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, he said Russia had advanced technologically since the Soviet era, but continuous government efforts were needed to speed the process and overcome bureaucrats opposed to change.
"We need incessant transformations and a political will for fostering this process in a predictable way, step by step, without wavering. I think we need to take some more new steps," he said.
Among the top goals for achieving modernization, Medvedev mentioned faster privatization of state enterprises, decentralization of power, creating a more professional and independent judiciary, and fighting corruption, the Interfax news agency reported.
Government critics have long argued that several of these targets - particularly judicial reform - enjoy little backing among the country's leaders.
Medvedev said Russia should invest the income from current high energy prices in building a modern technological base, rather then putting it back into inefficient state-owned businesses.
Russia needs to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) as soon as possible, preferably by the end of 2011, he said, arguing that Russia can become a truly modern country only when it is fully integrated into the world economy.
Georgia, a WTO member that Russia fought during a short war in 2008, is an outspoken opponent of Russian's membership bid. Any WTO member may veto a membership application.