Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, on the day marking the 60th anniversary of Victory, we are unveiling in Moscow a monument to Charles de Gaulle, a glorious son of the French people, one of the twentieth century’s outstanding statesmen and a friend of our country.
De Gaulle said, “Destiny gives each of us the fate we merit”, and so in all his actions as an individual and a politician he was guided by firm moral principles and the values of honour, duty and patriotism.
A true soldier and citizen of France, Charles de Gaulle was always faithful to the oath he had sworn. During the most difficult and dramatic time of the Nazi invasion he courageously took on immense responsibility. His historic appeal to his countrymen to continue fighting united the nation and gave people belief that victory would be theirs. And the world saw that the French did not surrender and their spirit was not broken.
The French Committee of National Liberation founded by General de Gaulle became the centre for the growing resistance against the occupying forces. France’s soldiers made an important contribution to the liberation of Europe and by right shared the triumph of victory with the allies in the anti-Nazi coalition.
We will never forget the unity forged between our peoples as they fought Nazism side by side. We will never forget their fraternity of arms, the chronicle of which counts many outstanding episodes, including the glorious road of the Normandy-Neman squadron. We will also never forget the deeds of thousands of our countrymen who fought bravely against Nazism in the ranks of the French Resistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For Russians, the name Charles de Gaulle embodies a free and strong France, a country that, during the post-war years, thanks to the authority, ideas and energy of this man, achieved impressive successes, joined the ranks of the world’s leading powers and was recognised as one of the greatest driving forces behind European integration.
Several decades ago now, de Gaulle spoke with great foresight of creating a Europe stretching “from the Atlantic to the Urals” and of the fact that “the need for a Franco-Russian alliance becomes apparent with every turn history takes”.
Over and over again life proves de Gaulle right. Now, in this new century, his political legacy will serve our peoples who are bound by common ideals and values and united by a common desire to develop mutually beneficial cooperation and a long-term partnership in the name of a prosperous Europe and a safe and stable world.
Happy holiday, dear friends!
Happy Victory Day!
Jacques Chirac: Dear Mr President, dear friend!
Mr Mayor, Mr Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sixty years ago, the capitulation of Nazi Germany brought to an end one of the greatest tragedies history has known.
Never before had the world known such a ruthless and deadly war.
This morning, at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation, we were all filled with the same emotion and remained faithful to the history and the memory of our peoples as we celebrated this peace that came at such a high cost.
Today we all remember the immense sacrifices made in the name of freeing our peoples from the yoke of Nazi barbarism. And here in Moscow we remember, of course, the decisive contribution your country made to the final victory.
The Nazis suffered their first defeats near Moscow, at Kursk and Stalingrad, and your people, showing unprecedented courage, sent a tremendous signal to the world not to give up and not to lose hope.
Our peoples and Russia played a central part in those battles. They were allies, friends and brothers-in-arms like the veterans of the Normandy-Neman Air-force Squadron. I just met with these heroes who wrote such glorious pages in history. I told them how proud we are of them, what admiration we have for them and what gratitude we feel towards them. The Free France movement, all the fighters of the Resistance, following General de Gaulle’s example, showed unshakeable determination and refused to accept defeat. The hope they inspired proved stronger than the evil fate the enemy promised.
They remained true to the end to the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. They remained true to the ideals of France. They defended the honour of our Motherland, when France was finally able to take its own destiny back into its hands.
I would like to express my gratitude to my friend, the President of the Russian Federation, to the Mayor of Moscow Mr Luzhkov, and also to the sculptor, Mr Zurab Tsereteli, for the tribute they have decided to pay to the memory of General de Gaulle. We share these feelings with them at this time, this moment of emotion, gratitude and almost reverence.
You know what place General de Gaulle holds in the hearts of the French. For all of us he is an example of what people are capable of and the incarnation of a certain idea of France. He always held aloft the image of France handed down through all the many centuries of her history. He always gave expression to France’s ambitions and desires. He embodied himself in France, returning our country to a worthy place in the world. General de Gaulle was the man who took the head of Free France. He was a statesman who passionately loved his country and always believed unfailingly in Europe and its future.
He always had the deep conviction that peace would reign again on our continent and that the peoples of Europe would make peace with each other. It was he who led France along the road to reconciliation.
With the energy that characterised him, an energy inspired by a farsighted view of history, he rejected the logic of a world divided into blocs, the logic of ideological confrontation, and he gave peoples the chance to proclaim loud and clear their desire for independence and sovereignty – a possibility they did not have.
When General de Gaulle arrived in Moscow on December 2, 1944, he visited the Russia that had always existed, the eternal Russia which, as he wrote in his memoirs, “is stronger than any theories and any regimes”. It was in this Russia, this great country, that he shared his vision of Europe and spoke of the necessity of friendship between Europe and Russia.
Remaining true to the will of General de Gaulle, we have respect for history and do not forget the suffering and trials our peoples lived through. This is why it is our duty to continue to move forward together along the European road, along the road to a Europe united on the foundation of humanist values, a Europe that is at peace with itself. The peoples of this Europe are proud of their unique past. They have forever put an end to old contentions and have overcome the dramas of the past, and today they are working together to shape their common destiny.
Today, May 9, is also Europe Day. On this day of special significance, allow me to express my certainty that tomorrow’s Europe will be even more united and stronger.
For every state, for every people of the European Union, the Constitution will become tomorrow’s foundation for creating the future they are all to forge together. The Constitution will form the foundation on which they can all calmly and confidently build solid and balanced relations with Russia decisively pursuing political, economic and social reform, thus helping to strengthen peace and democracy on our continent.
This Europe is already strong through its economic and trading power and through its flourishing science and culture. Tomorrow it will more confidently take its place as a political power. And this Europe, aware of the full extent of its responsibilities on the international stage, will act in the name of peace and development, in the name of a world order based on greater justice and solidarity, in the name of the universal human values with which our continent has enriched the entire world.
This Europe, a Europe of great ambitions, a peaceful Europe that has reached maturity after all the tragedies it has lived through, will become, I assure you, not just a partner for Russia, the great country that is Russia. This Europe will become a true friend for Russia.
Thank you for your attention.