President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, dear veterans, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
It gives me great pleasure to be here at these important celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from Nazi occupation. This day, back in 1944, saw the end of a big military operation that brought the hour of our common victory closer. Today, we pay tribute together to the feats of the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Army’s soldiers. For three-and-a-half years they put up stubborn and heroic resistance to the occupying forces. We bow our heads too before the courage shown by Soviet pilots, who delivered vital supplies to the partisans in difficult mountain terrain. We remember the bravery of the soldiers and officers of the 3rd Ukrainian front, who fought their way in fierce battles from the Dnieper to the Danube.
President Tadic and I laid wreaths today at the Memorial Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade. This was an emotional moment. I want to take this opportunity to thank once again our Serbian friends for the care they take in preserving the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fell in the battles for Belgrade.
Russia and Serbia today are bound by a common glorious history and common spiritual values, a brotherhood forged in battle, and our unswerving desire to live in harmony and help each other, including by acting together to stand up for an honest view of the war’s history, which, regrettably, we are obliged to do today.
During the years of World War II, the bloodiest and most terrible war in humankind’s history, our peoples suffered immense and irreplaceable losses that even today have still not been fully counted.
We, the children and grandchildren of those who defended our right to live in a free world, have a duty to preserve the truth about this war, all the more so today, when we see numerous attempts to put a new gloss on history, distort the very essence of the events of those days, paint the invaders as saviours, torturers as patriots, and liberators as nothing less than an occupying force.
It is very dangerous to forget in this way the lessons the war teaches us. Using these events for opportunistic purposes can incite hostility and mistrust between peoples. Humanity’s history offers many such examples, and this is a threat we cannot ignore. We will do everything possible to prevent such a development of events.
This is something that you understand well here in Serbia. As the President said just now, our countries’ relations are distinguished by particular trust and respect for each other, and my visit to Belgrade bolsters our confidence that our many ambitious and important joint plans for the decades to come will indeed be carried out.
You can rest assured that Russia will continue to take a firm stand on the international issues we consider of principle importance for the development of Europe and all of humanity, including the issue of Serbia’s territorial integrity and the question of Kosovo and Metohija.
Dear friends, I congratulate once more all of the veterans present on this occasion. I wish all of you good health and prosperity, and I wish everyone present joy and happiness.