"Under no circumstances are we going to scale back our ties with Europe and the US. At the same time we will revive and expand traditional ties with the south of the American continent, we will continue to cooperate with Africa, with countries in the Middle East," Putin said.
Putin reiterated that Russia aims to have as many reliable partners as possible, both in the West and in the East, stressing that many of the world’s economic powerhouses are Russia’s "true friends and strategic partners". He added that Russia is open to the world and would never choose self-isolation, for that would be a sign of weakness, whereas Russia is strong and confident.
According to the Russian constitution, the president addresses parliament every year with a speech focusing on the country’s current situation and on the main aspects of domestic and foreign policy. Leaders of the Constitutional, Supreme and Arbitration courts, regional governors, heads of traditional religions and other prominent public figures take part in the event along with deputies and senators.
The first address was made by Boris Yeltsin on February 24, 1994. This year, this tradition celebrates its 20th anniversary.