Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude for initiating this exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. We are grateful to MEP Dr. Maštalka and his assistants. Certainly, my special greetings and words of appreciation are addressed to the representatives of the Volgograd city and regional administration, as well as to all those involved in the preparation of this event. Without them this exhibition would not have taken place. It is the devotion of these people, their enthusiasm and professionalism that gathered us here providing an opportunity to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to save the world from Nazism.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victorious battle on the Volga. We remember Stalingrad as a historic milestone, a battle which became a turning point in the course of the Second World War, shaped an absolutely new political landscape and made a profound impact all over the world. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the contemporary world and especially today’s Europe are stemming from that victory.
The battle went on for 200 days uninterruptedly, resulting in a quarter of a million deaths and 90 per cent destruction of the city. Stalingrad became a legend, a stronghold, a symbol of spiritual power and unity of our multinational country. Stalingrad is a monument to the Soviet soldier who liberated Europe from Nazi slavery and extermination.
This bravery and heroism were acknowledged then by the leaders and public opinion of both allied and enemy powers. Today they are remembered, and not only in our country. It is not by chance that in more than 10 European countries, including France and Belgium, there are streets, squares and avenues named after Stalingrad.
These days it is a moral duty of our generation not only to promote peace and stability which were paid for by so many lives, but also to ensure that the memory of those who died to let us live and events that surrounded their historic feat are kept intact and not subjected to biased interpretations. The way to do that is to strengthen cooperation, support people-to-people contacts on our continent and contribute to building a single Europe without dividing lines. May today’s event here in the European Parliament serve as another step in this direction.