President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Federal President, ladies and gentlemen, dear compatriots,
I would like to welcome you all and congratulate you on a very important historic event, the 210th anniversary of the Russian army’s crossing the Alps under the command of Alexander Suvorov. This will always be recognized as a landmark in military tactics and strategy, and an example of unparalleled courage and fortitude on the part of the soldiers. During a total of 16 days Suvorov's troops, “amazing bogatyrs” [heroic military commanders of Russian folk legends] as he called them, overcame seven passes that seemed impregnable at that time, traveled almost 300 kilometres, and despite the dire conditions of the campaign, defeated a numerically superior enemy force.
As Massena, one of Napoleon’s famous commanders, said later: “I would exchange all my victories for Suvorov’s Swiss expedition.” It is important to remember that this campaign took place as part of Russia's participation in the coalition against Napoleon, a coalition now considered as one of the most successful alliances in the history of Europe.
Our soldiers honourably fulfilled their obligations in protecting the sovereign and independent Confederation and greatly helped it to establish itself at that time. And a decade and a half later at the Congress of Vienna, Russia was the initiator and a guarantor of Switzerland’s permanent neutrality.
We have here with us today those who are currently studying Suvorov’s famous military doctrine of victories, cadets from our military academy which bears the proud name of Suvorov in Russia. They are loyal to the victorious tradition of this great commander.
Today's celebration has once again shown how greatly revered the son of Russia, the great General Suvorov is in your country, and how much you respect our shared history. And we are deeply grateful to the federal, cantonal and local authorities, and to those in charge of Switzerland’s armed forces, to everyone involved in preserving the memory of these events and taking care of the various monuments.
Such a respectful, attentive and intelligent attitude to the past is the basis of trust and understanding between peoples. And it is very important for the stable development of Europe on the basis of partnership, good neighbourliness and cooperation. Once such purposes were served by Suvorov's legendary campaign. For them our ancestors crossed the impregnable Alps and won a great victory. And as our great compatriot Suvorov said at the time: ”There is nothing in the world that can’t be overcome.“ These are inspiring words.
Let me once again thank the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr Merz, and all those who made today's ceremony possible and did everything here at the site of this historical event to honour the memory of these heroes.