Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the opening of the 28th International Educational Christmas Readings, “The Great Victory: Heritage and Inheritors,” Moscow, January 27, 2020
Your Holiness, colleagues, friends,
I am happy to join you in greeting the hosts, participants and guests of the 28th International Educational Christmas Readings.
It is a great honour for me to be able to speak again at the opening of this forum, which has firmly established itself as a respected platform for a constructive and candid exchange of views on many key issues of our time. The initiatives and recommendations that are developed as part of it make a meaningful contribution to ensuring harmonious development in Russia, strengthening civil, inter-ethnic, and inter-faith peace and harmony, and to rallying society around eternal values.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of victory over Nazism. At the cost of inconceivable sacrifices and massive efforts that were unprecedented in world history, our country played a decisive role in destroying the Nazi war machine and liberating the European nations and the world in general from the brown plague and the ideology of Nazism.
The threat to the Fatherland required the full mobilisation of not only our economic and organisational potential, but spiritual aspects as well. The peoples of the former Soviet Union illustrated examples of outstanding unity, courage, fortitude, patriotism, and a willingness to give up their lives for a just cause.
The Russian Orthodox Church also contributed to this common effort. In the very first days of the war, it called upon everyone to defend the Motherland, organised fundraising for defence, provided moral support to soldiers and civilians, including those who ended up in a territory temporarily occupied by the enemy. It strongly condemned collaborators and traitors.
Regretfully, I have to note that the attempts to rewrite the history of the war and use it as a tool in dirty geopolitical games have increased. This scourge has severely affected a number of European states, in which the glorification of Nazi henchmen had, in fact, become part of state ideology and policy. The shameful attacks on the monuments and graves of the liberating soldiers continue in Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Poland, the Czech Republic and a number of other countries in an enlightened Europe. Their goal is clear. It is to rake up historical and political complexes and phobias, to radically revise the international legal results of World War II and the results of Victory, including the fundamental principles of state-to-state communication as found in the UN Charter.
It is regrettable that the memory of the war, its lessons and legacy are increasingly becoming prey to fleeting political interests. This is absolutely unacceptable. Contemporary and future politicians, statesmen and public figures must protect the good name of both living and fallen heroes, civilians, and the victims and accomplices of the Nazis. President Putin spoke emotionally about this in detail at the opening ceremony for the monument in honour of the Leningrad Siege and the Holocaust commemoration forum in Jerusalem on January 23. Our ministry is working hard to preserve the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War. In addition to our CSTO and CIS allies and partners, the vast majority of the international community agrees with us on this. The annual Russian initiative, On Combating Glorification of Nazism, traditionally enjoys widespread support at the UN. On December 18, 2019, at a plenary meeting of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, a resolution was approved which condemns attempts to acquit Nazi movement members and the organisations recognised as criminal by the Nuremberg Tribunal rulings. The unacceptability of the destruction or desecration of memorials in honour of the liberators was emphasised.
A special item, “The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II,” was included on the agenda of the current 75th session of the UN General Assembly at our suggestion. A special UN General Assembly meeting is scheduled to coincide with this anniversary.
Commemorative, awareness and cultural events are being held abroad as part of the Victory anniversary celebration. We assign a special role to cooperating with the associations of Russian compatriots who have already begun organising sociopolitical actions, such as the St George Ribbon, Memory Watch, Red Star of Victory and, of course, the Immortal Regiment. The growing participation of young people in patriotic actions, which were not ordered from above, but are held at the call of the heart, is critically important.
The anniversary celebrations will culminate in May 9 celebrations in Moscow. We anticipate the participation of many official delegations from foreign states, representatives of foreign public circles and veterans living abroad.
Your Holiness, colleagues,
The legal foundation of international architecture laid in the wake of the Great Victory remains the most important pillar in effectively overcoming the challenges and threats that are common to all peoples and in maintaining global and regional stability. This is what President Putin’s initiative on holding, this year, a special summit with the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which, under the UN Charter, have a special responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, is designed to achieve. The leaders of China and France have already supported this initiative. It is called, in the most serious way, without politicisation or ideologisation, and without regard to electoral cycles, to consider ways to reduce tensions, which have been dangerously mounting in recent years, and to stop the world from sliding into confrontation.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic service will continue to do its best to counter attempts to falsify history. We are open to close cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions in our country in the interest of educating young people in the spirit of continuity of eras and generations and strengthening Russian society’s moral and spiritual foundations.
I know that these Christmas Readings will make the most important and effective contribution to these efforts. I wish all participants every success and good health in 2020.