Russia's Position Paper on Immigration and Poverty in the Middle East

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Mr. President,
            The Russian Federation attaches great importance to the High-Level Dialogue. We believe that consideration of migration as a factor of development is a timely and topical matter.             According to the UN data, Russia today occupies the second place among the countries with the largest presence of international migrants and, as mentioned in the Secretary-General's report, for the last 15 years has been the hub for various migration flows.

            Currently, Russia is a major receiving center, as well as a country of mass arrival and transit of migrants. For the last 15 years the growth of migration surpassed the boldest of forecasts.

            The main task for Russia now is to organize a civilized migration.

            Within the framework of this task I would like to highlight four priorities for Russia's migration policy:

•                    ensuring the best conditions for the promotion of the common law standards;

•                    protecting human rights;

•                    enforcing law and order and rule of law;

•                    ensuring maximum benefits from migration in economic, political, social and demographic areas.

            On the one hand, Russia has been making efforts to become attractive for migrants, on the other – it has adopted measures to counter illegal migration.

            We are happy to see those who arrived to our soil legally. We welcome and support them. But we will continue to take measures against illegal migration. In doing this, we will focus on removing conditions for illegal migration rather than acting against illegal migrants themselves.

            Experts' estimates show that today there are about 10 million illegal migrants living in Russia. Most of them are citizens of the former USSR republics and other countries with small labour markets.

We are convinced that one cannot contain illegal migration through repressive and restrictive methods alone. In this regard, I should agree with the Secretary General's words that few countries were able to reduce the number of migrants through tightening control. We were able to overcome this misconception and now we are working to create new, more flexible migration legislation tools.

            To attract legal labour migrants we have considerably simplified procedures regulating presence and labour activity of foreign citizens. The ideology of these laws is fully consistent with Russia's international obligations, including those relating to personal data protection.

            We regard illegal migration as a threat to our national security.

            Our estimates show that the economic damage only done to Russia by illegal migration through non-payment of taxes is more than 8 billion US dollars a year.

            Annually, the migrants from the CIS countries export more than 10 billion US dollars from Russia bypassing the state control procedures. However, in 2005 the volume of registered money transfers made by citizens of these countries exceeded 3 billion US dollars only. The volume of migrant workers remittances from Russia grows annually by 1.5 to 2 times.

            These highly illustrative examples demonstrate the pertinence of the IOM initiatives suggesting, for instance, a radical improvement of the data gathering system related to remittances and the use of these funds.             The experience of foreign countries in the field of combating illegal migration is indisputably valuable for us.

            While amending the legislation to prevent the employment of illegal migrants, we take into consideration examples of a number of European countries, which impose heavy fines on employers for every illegal migrant worker. We also intend to raise the responsibility for forging documents.

            There is an obvious need for introducing a new generation of passports and...
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