Dear Vice-President of the European Parliament, dear Mayor Kosolapov, Excellencies, distinguished guests,
First of all I would like to thank Mr. Jiri Maštalka and the City of Volgograd for their initiative to organise the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: From Stalingrad to Prague” on the premises of the European Parliament. This year is of special significance as it marks the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory over Nazism - the most terrible evil in the whole history of mankind.
World War II is a great lesson of the 20th century. The consequences of this tremendous historical drama had most direct influence on the course of world history, including the creation of the United Nations as a cornerstone of the system of international relations. But the victory over Nazism also remains a lesson that is relevant today, when there are still those who are trying once again to revive this abhorring ideology and rewrite history in order to achieve their own political goals.
I am convinced that new generations of Europeans must know how much blood and tears were shed during the war and that May 1945 brought not only the great joy of victory, but also heavy responsibility for the future fate of mankind. The peoples of the world, and above all the peoples of the Soviet Union, paid a very high price for the Victory. That is why we so dearly want a peaceful future for our planet, why we value human life and important principles of international security.
It would only be fair to emphasise the decisive contribution of the Soviet people to the victory over Nazism. It was the Soviet Union – with its expanses, towns and villages – that absorbed the brunt of the Nazi invasion. Three fourths of the German armed forces were defeated on the Eastern Front, including the most combat-capable, battle-hardened units. It was all peoples of the USSR who at the cost of 27 millions lives, enormous sacrifices and the destruction of over 3 thousand cities and towns preserved the greater part of material heritage of European civilization.
This victory could only be achieved by joint efforts of all who took part in the struggle against Nazism. Last June saw celebrations of the Anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Landing in Normandy, many events commemorating the heroes of World War II are held in different countries of the world. The very creation of the anti-Hitlerite coalition is rightfully considered to have been a major diplomatic breakthrough of its time. Its participants were able to rise above their political and ideological differences for the sake of an overarching aim – to crush the common enemy and achieve Victory, one for all.
In commemorating Victory Day we pay tribute to the great sacrifices of our ancestors, to the spiritual force with which nations of the world defended their right to freedom, to independence, to live and raise children and grandchildren, and to pass on to them the spiritual values and traditions over centuries accumulated by our nations. We must never forget this and do our utmost to preserve this heritage.