President Vladimir Putin: Dear veterans,
Ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government,
Today is a special day for all of us, without exaggeration. It is a sacred day for our peoples. It is one of the most memorable and important dates for their history.
On 9 May 1945, great justice was done. All of Europe believed in it and waited for it. The entire world hoped for it.
And now, when together we honour the anniversary of the Victory over fascism, we mark the Victory over a criminal regime.
Victory over a monstrous ideology that made it possible to enslave and exterminate entire peoples.
For us, it is clear that the Second World War was the most tragic event of last century. But at the same time, it was also the most heroic event of that era.
In the war on Nazism, people’s rights to freedom were won back, their rights to life itself, to an independent choice of the path of development. For their descendents, rich traditions of many centuries, the spiritual and moral culture of many peoples of Europe were preserved.
But most importantly, it was a victory of civilisation over barbarism in the form of fascism.
I would like to take this opportunity to stress once more: I am genuinely glad that we are celebrating this day together – in such a representative international group. I believe this fact is fundamentally important, and I am deeply grateful to all our guests who came to share the joy of these celebrations with us here in Moscow, the capital of Russia.
Dear colleagues and friends,
Even on this blessed day of victory we cannot forget the tremendous victims and suffering that fell to the lot of our and other peoples of the world.
As long as we remember this and value the deeds of this generation, as long as we go hand in hand, we are invincible. And together, we can defend the world from terrible new challenges and threats.
In the complex world of today we are especially aware of the excessive cost and the permanent value of the Victory of 1945. We pay our tribute to everyone who liberated the world at the cost of their lives.
In Russia, we will never forget the people who were burned in tanks and planes, who jumped out of trenches into the line of fire, who were shot and tortured. In our country we will never forget the people who were brutally persecuted by the Nazis, who were tortured and burnt alive in death camps.
We are forever grateful to everyone who passed through these enormous ordeals and torments, and overcame the enemy saving the Homeland.
Six decades later, this memory and the solidarity our people showed are still important to us. And we need a clear-sighted, lucid attitude to the lessons of war, in connection with the danger of contemporary threats.
There should be no illusions: the ideas of fascism and racial superiority still persist. They are still very strong and may, by setting nations on to fight and by duping people, lead to a new catastrophe.
Similar ideas lie at the base of extremism and terrorism, which the modern world has already encountered. And they are just as ruthless as Nazism. Understanding this, we must strengthen cooperation in the war on this evil, which genuinely threatens civilisation.
I am certain: the international community has every capability for this. A resource of cooperation has already been built up. There is an understanding of the need to prevent new dangers together. And together to oppose them.
Without exaggeration, a recognition of this was earned by suffering in the period of the Second World War. It was strengthened and built up – as we emerged from the era of global ideological confrontation. And it is required once more, in our times, during the formation of the international anti-terrorist coalition.
Today we are genuinely grateful to everyone who in the terrible forties of the last century supported the Soviet Union, which took the most powerful, most brutal blow of the war. To everyone who helped us with brotherly solidarity and their aspiration to independence and freedom. Those who provided us with medicine, food and weapons.
We will never forget the courage and bravery shown in this terrible war by our allies.
We will always honour the deeds of the anti-fascist resistance in Europe.
And of course, we will remember the innumerable disasters which Nazism brought to the German people themselves. We will not forget the German anti-fascists who suffered for the ideas of a democratic, progressive future for Germany,
We all had one common enemy then – fascism. Countries and peoples of the world fought against it together. And differences in national traditions or religions, in ideology or languages, made no difference to this unity.
The victory of 1945 greatly raised the value of life itself. It called for true respect of the individual and human rights. It opened the path to the triumph of humanistic ideals and the very chance of civilised dialogue between peoples, and peaceful cooperation between nations.
It is also clear that Victory in the war of 1941–1945 was one of the most important prologues to the formation of such a unique and large-scale international structure as the UN, and to the passing of the General Declaration of human rights.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In these days of May, all veterans of the war, who are scattered all over the globe, will remember their severe youth. And they will remember their fallen comrades who remained forever on the roads of war.
But we, who have been lucky to live and work under a peaceful sky – remain eternally grateful to the fallen and to the living alike. Both to those who fought and those who kept up our home front. And we will do everything to make sure that veterans’ lives are worthy, and they have peace of mind and don’t have to worry for the future of their children and grandchildren.
Allow me to propose the first toast to them. To the veterans of the World War II and the Great Patriotic War, to everyone who brought our nations and peoples independence and prospects. To everyone who protected our historical past and gave us a future.
To you, victorious soldiers!
To a peaceful future and freedom on our planet!
To the prosperity of Russia and all the peoples of the world!
Congratulations with this great holiday!