Comment by the Russian MFA Information and Press Department on the European Commission statement issued ahead of the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes
We have taken note of a statement issued on behalf of the European Commission by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Věra Jourová and Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. It represents yet another attempt to equate Nazi Germany, an aggressor country, to the Soviet Union, whose people bore the brunt of the Nazi attack and created a reliable barrier against the proliferation of the man-hating Nazi ideology, which threatened the very existence of our civilisation. Although the authors of this year’s “masterpiece” shied away from openly assigning equal blame on the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany for unleashing World War II, as they did last year, its essence remained unchanged.
The statement rejects the fact and the importance of the defeat of the Nazi regime and the liberation of Europe by the Soviet Union, claiming that “while the end of World War II marked the defeat of the Nazi regime, many Central and Eastern Europeans continued to suffer under other totalitarian regimes.” The statement artificially connects the Remembrance Day to 23 August when the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact. According to Brussels officials, it was precisely its signature that “marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods in the recent history of our continent”.
However, it was the Western countries that pursued the policy of appeasing the aggressor, which culminated in the notorious Munich Agreement of 1938, leading to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. It would be worth reminding that Britain and France had signed non-aggression declarations with Germany similar to the German-Soviet pact a year earlier than the Soviet Union. But the European Union chooses to turn a blind eye to this fact.
These statements sound especially cynical being issued in the year that marks 75 years since the start of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) and 70 years after the completion of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, which for the first time ever brought those guilty of starting World War II to justice for war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity.
The Nuremberg Tribunal was a major political and legal achievement of its time. Key factor of its success was unanimity of states regarding its establishment, the course of its proceedings, as well as assessment of its results. The Tribunal’s decisions were articulate and unequivocal in qualifying those who had fought on the side of Good and those on the side of Evil in World War II. Those decisions served as the basis for legal documents on the most serious international crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity – and defined the characteristics and elements of the act of aggression.
We have to state that the vaccine against the Nazi virus, inter alia created at Nuremberg, is gradually losing its efficacy, as can be witnessed, in particular, in certain European states where brazen propaganda of Nazi ideas and values is common practice and where radical nationalists are becoming increasingly active. We are especially alarmed by the situation in Ukraine, where Nazi criminals have been de facto rehabilitated. Not only does this insult the memory of the millions of victims, but also threatens the fundamental principles of ensuring democracy and human rights.
We are outraged by cynical attempts to falsify the history of World War II, to equate victims to butchers, and to glorify Nazis and their accomplices. The goal of these disgraceful actions is obvious: to exploit distortions of history for geopolitical purposes, provoke political phobias and sow discord between whole countries and nations. We are dismayed by the campaign launched in a number of European countries, especially Poland, against monuments to Soviet citizens who died fighting Nazism.
It is imperative for all states to fully recognise the results of World War II as enshrined in the UN Charter and other international documents. We are convinced that the international community must remain focused on consistent efforts to combat glorification of Nazism and any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.
We therefore regret the unwillingness of EU member states to support the UN General Assembly Resolution initiated by Russia, on Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and Other Practices That Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which an overwhelming majority of UN member states invariably uphold. The resolution provides, in particular, that the erection of monuments and memorials and the holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of Nazis and other similar actions do injustice to the memory of the countless victims of Fascism and negatively influence children and young people, which is absolutely incompatible with obligations of UN member states.
It appears that EU leaders have not yet learned the most important lessons of World War II, and have no desire to do so.