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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

01.10.2013

Ambassador Yakovenko speaks at the rededication of the monument in memory of Russian and Finnish Crimean War prisoners (Lewes, 28 October 2013)

Ladies and Gentlemen!

On behalf of the Embassy of Russia I would like to thank you for joining us today. This is a special and a rather unusual occasion – the Russians and the Finns restoring a monument designed and built by the British, dedicated to prisoners who lead a free and a relatively comfortable life, enjoying hospitality while in captivity, captured thousands of miles away from the main battlefields of an unnecessary war which no one actually wanted to fight.

It is 160 years this year since the Crimean war began, and we can still learn much from its history, first of all, how dangerous it is to live in a world with absence of rule of international law and effective mechanisms of collective security that prevent armed conflicts, in a reality which made possible a large-scale military standoff in Europe and later on paved way to even worse conflicts. As a diplomat, I deeply trust that such situations should never happen, and wisdom should prevail over the “might is right” principle. Some learn hard, though, but we keep working on that.

Speaking of the monument itself, I should stress that we, of course, will remember those 28 prisoners of war who did not return home after the conflict ended – it is indeed very sad. We pay tribute to the undisputable courage of these men – after all, it was 2500 soldiers and 1 half-built fortress against 12000 marines and 40 battleships at Bomarsund. We also thank those who conducted the first restoration of the monument in 1957, carried out by the Embassy of the USSR.

But above all, knowing the story of the monument, which seems to be a bit of a paradox at first glance, we celebrate – we celebrate the triumph of human relations that proved to be genuine, we celebrate soldiers making toys for children, we celebrate the victory of friendship over hostility and we celebrate the world where representatives of different nations can unite to fulfill an important cultural project which reminds that, in spite of some quarrels in the past, we are all a huge European family.

Thank you.

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