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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

09.05.2014

Speech by Alexander Kramarenko, Russia’s Charge d’Affaires, a.i. at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial (9 May 2014, on the IWM grounds)

Excellencies,

Your Grace the Mayor of Southwark,

Dear veterans,

Ladies and gentlemen, friends!

First of all, may I congratulate you on the anniversary of our Victory in WWII over Nazi Germany. It marked the triumph of good over evil, the liberation of Europe from the threat to the very existence of its civilization.

On this day we remember those who gave their lives for that great cause. The Second World War started in Europe. It was here that unheard-of atrocities, including Holocaust, were committed. We are proud that the peoples of the Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to our common Victory. We will always remember our allies - the United States, Great Britain, France and other countries, those who fought in the Resistance. Our special gratitude goes to the Arctic convoys veterans.

We also remember the lessons learnt from that tragic experience. Sadly, their relevance for Europe and the world doesn’t wane. As recent events in various parts of our continent and other regions show, there are still forces and persons, who espouse extreme nationalism and intolerance. Quite often it is rooted in WWII, when various nationalists fought on the side of Nazi Germany and, thus, on the wrong side of history. Now these forces are seeking revenge either by rewriting history or rejecting post-war settlement, including the Charter of the Nurenberg Tribunal.

That is why Russia and like-minded nations each year pass the UN General Assembly resolution on inadmissibility of all forms of intolerance and glorification of Nazism.

The enormity of that sacrifice, suffering and war effort made WWII a defining event in forging our national identity and the Victory a moral value of highest order, which explains our position on many issues of today, including international affairs.

I regret to say that, as recent events in and around Ukraine prove, old geopolitics and its zero-sum logic die hard. The lack of formal settlement in Euro- Atlantic after the end of the Cold War represents a fundamental flaw of the present regional security architecture. It is short of being a genuine collective security system, that is inclusive, transparent and comprehensive. The lack of clarity, ambivalence and ambiguities are ferfile ground for old prejudices and suspicions, misunderstanding and mistrust, rooted in ideological confrontation of the past. This generates demand for politics of division.

If a Europe whole and free is our common goal, than we cannot accept the double standards position that people’s interests are paramount in one part of it and interests of the State in another, that human security, responsibility to protect and humanitarian interventions are for some and iron-cast XlXth Century notions of independence and sovereignty for others, that visa-free regime in the west and Cold War borders in the east of our continent.

Perhaps, we managed the Cold War fine, but the peace has been badly mishandled. We hope that the Ukrainian crisis will serve as a wake-up call for all in Europe and will drive home that message. We owe it to those whose sacrifice we now remember, to ensure that this be the case, that goodwill prevail, at last, in our region.

I can assure you that as long as Russia exists, we’ll stand by that memory and the ideals our fathers and grandfathers fought for.

Today we also celebrate another memorable date – 15 years ago,
on May 9 1999, the Soviet Memorial was unveiled. From the very start this idea was supported by the UK government. Its existence became possible only due to joint efforts of Russian and British authorities, public and commercial organizations and ordinary people. The Memorial is a symbol of comradeship-in-arms and friendship between our two nations who stood up against the aggressor on the opposite ends of Europe.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the members of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund, and especially its Chairman Phillip Matthews and its Secretary Ralph Gibson for all their hard work and for making the annual Victory Day ceremony and other events happen.

 




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