President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, friends, veterans, parade participants,
I am happy to be with you during these special, celebratory days.
Seventy years ago, Soviet soldiers and fighters in the Yugoslavian army liberated Belgrade from German fascist occupiers. The Belgrade operation, during which an enormous enemy grouping was destroyed, became an important step towards the great Victory.
Together, our peoples waged a long, persistent, bloody fight against the Nazis. Nearly all of Europe had been subdued by this brazen, barbaric force; however, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia demonstrated nationwide resistance against the aggressor.
The most important crushing blows against the enemy were made on the Eastern Front. Fighters from Yugoslavia’s guerrilla movement also contributed greatly to the Victory. They blocked dozens of Hitler’s divisions, preventing them from redeploying in Stalingrad and Kursk or being used in other crucial battles of World War II. The enemy was crushed.
We know that the Soviet Union played an exceptional, key role in the victory over Nazism, but we never divided the Victory into “ours” and “theirs,” and will always remember the help of our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, participants in the resistance movement.
On this major anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation, we pay tribute and respect to all those who fought against Nazism on the fronts of World War II.
Friends, our fathers and grandfathers fought for a just cause and achieved heights of valour on all lines of this merciless war. Their bravery was limitless, their will and their comradery in battle were indestructible, and their fortitude was beyond measure. And now, here at the military parade, we share the same deep feelings: pride and heartfelt gratitude to our veterans, and a desire to be worthy of their heroism and glory.
Next May, together we will mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory. It was won at a high price and our common debt is to remember the lessons of World War II, to resist attempts to glorify Nazis and their collaborators, and to join forces in creating a climate of trust and mutual understanding in Europe.
I congratulate the residents of Belgrade and all Serbian citizens on this occasion with all my heart. I wish you success and prosperity!
Long live the brotherly nation of Serbia!