Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a ceremony to award the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War medals to residents of besieged Leningrad, Helsinki, March 3, 2020
Thank you for coming to the Russian Embassy today on this occasion, which is very important to us and, I hope, to you, a ceremony to award commemorative medals on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War.
You survived the horrors of the siege of Leningrad, working selflessly on the home front to help those who were fighting on the frontline. We will be forever grateful to you for this. It was your share of the contribution that our people, the people of the Soviet Union, made to the defeat of Nazism, a decisive contribution to this historical achievement. Of course, we will always remember the contribution of our World War II Allies, and we want to keep alive the spirit that helped us to defeat a terrible enemy.
It takes huge courage today to rise above our differences in order to fight common threats, of which there are many, including terrorism and other types of organised crime, epidemics and many other challenges. In this connection I would like to remind you of the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, who called on the permanent members of the UN Security Council to hold a meeting to demonstrate their responsibility for the duties and powers assigned to them under the UN Charter.
Regarding the events of the Great Patriotic War and World War II, I would like to say that we must not allow for that tragedy to happen again. We are doing everything in our power to ensure this. We reaffirm our proposals on addressing international affairs through dialogue rather than confrontation and rivalry.
The preservation of historical truth and memory is a matter of exceptional importance to us. It is inadmissible to try to rewrite history and to equate the liberators of Europe with those who attempted to enslave it for ages to come. We lay special emphasis on the preservation of memory in the form of memorials erected around Europe. A veritable war has been launched against them in some countries, a war on monuments. I see this as a complete loss of values which humankind created over thousands of years. I would like to point out, though, that the people of Finland are taking good care of such memorials, acting in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement our countries signed in 1992. We are acting likewise with regard to Finnish military cemeteries in the Russian Federation.
Today I would like to address once again those who experienced the horrors of that war yet preserved dignity and loyalty to your homeland and remained committed to the fight against that terrible enemy. I am delighted that you could come here today. I will now present you with these commemorative medals on behalf of President Vladimir Putin. I know that not all of those who are to receive these medals could come here today, and so Ambassador Pavel Kuznetsov will hold a second part of the awards ceremony in a few days. But now I will hold the first part of the ceremony.