Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the opening ceremony of the historical and documentary exhibition “Munich-38: On the Threshold of Disaster,” Moscow, September 19, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
Today we are opening the historical and documentary exhibition, “Munich-38: On the Threshold of Disaster,” a joint project of Russia’s Federal Archival Agency, the State Archives of the Russian Federation and the State Military Archive, supported by the Foreign Ministry.
As Head of the Federal Archival Agency Andrei Artizov said, this exhibition presents to the public authentic documents on the pre-WWII history of international relations. A significant part of the materials, including foreign documents, are displayed for the first time. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the archivists, historians, and everyone involved in the implementation of this project.
This display is a vivid confirmation that the events of that period should be viewed in the general historical context. The Munich Agreement, which became the prelude to World War II, crowned the shameful and essentially criminal policy of appeasement of the Third Reich. The countries that agreed to that collusion - Great Britain, France, and Italy - had an illusory hope of avoiding the threat of Hitler's aggression and tried to direct it at the East. Among the concessions to the Nazi regime was the connivance of the remilitarisation of Hitler’s Germany, non-interference in the civil war in Spain in 1936-1939 amid flagrant Italian-German support for the Franco insurgency, the silent acceptance of the Anschluss of Austria, and the refusal to cooperate with our country, the Soviet Union, on building a collective security system in Europe. They turned a blind eye to the persecution of Jews in Germany. As a reminder – this year, we will mark another sad anniversary – the 80th anniversary of the so-called Crystal Night, which became a prologue to the Holocaust.
Today, when we are witnessing the creeping rehabilitation of Nazism, it is important not only to honour the memory of millions of innocent victims, but also to do our utmost to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies in the future.
The Munich Agreement is a classic example of disastrous consequences caused by disregard for international law, belief in one's own exceptionalism and infallibility, and reliance on national egotism. These lessons of the past should serve as a warning to all of us, given the current realities. It is obvious that real security can only be equal and indivisible and should be based on the fundamental principles of international relations stipulated in the UN Charter: respect for the sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Russia will continue to contribute in every possible way to the strengthening of global and regional stability, and to working out common responses to the numerous challenges and threats of the present. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stressed, we are open to interaction with everyone who is ready to collaborate on the basis of equality, respect for each other, and a balance of interests.