Vladimir Putin chaired the 39th meeting of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
The main item on the meeting’s agenda was developing humanitarian cooperation with other countries at government and public level in the aim of promoting objective information about Russia’s history and present, including its role in the victory over Nazism.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today, we are holding this meeting of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee to discuss ways to develop our international cooperation and make fuller use of our humanitarian ties’ tremendous potential in our work together with others who are on the same page with us and think along the same lines as we do.
Work to preserve and defend the historical truth about World War II and the traditions and spirit of alliance in the fight against Nazism plays a great role here. In our view, this is above all a moral and human concept, a moral and human duty to the generation of victors, to those who fell for their motherland, and to those who revived and developed the country after the Great Patriotic War. This historical truth cements society and provides a spiritual foundation and basic values for development and for giving people of various generations the sense of being part of a truly united nation.
At the same time, we pursue open discussion of even the most controversial aspects of history, not only from the World War II period, but from other eras too. We take the view that no matter how difficult and contradictory history may be, it is there not to make us quarrel, but to warn us against mistakes and help us to strengthen our good neighbourly ties.
Sadly, there are other approaches to history too, of course, which attempt to turn it into a political and ideological weapon. We see the risks that arise from a cynical approach to the past. We see how falsification and manipulation of historical facts create division between countries and peoples, draw new dividing lines and create supposed enemies.
The line that same countries now follow, and which elevates Nazism to heroic status and justifies the Nazis’ accomplices, is particularly dangerous. Not only does it insult the memory of the victims of Nazi crimes, but it feeds nationalist, xenophobic and radical forces.
I want to emphasise too that historical revision opens the road to a revision of the very foundations of the modern world order and the erosion of the key principles of international law and security that took shape following World War II. We have said before what great risks this could have for everyone today.
Colleagues, we must stand up for an objective approach to history and pursue consistent and steady work on patriotic education, support public initiatives such as search movements or historical reconstructions, develop ties with compatriots abroad, look after the memorials here at home and abroad, and respond firmly to all acts of vandalism.
I think it particularly important to ensure broad access to archival materials, facilitate their publication and give people the possibility of turning to the original sources. This is an effective means of combating all kinds of inventions and myths.
We need to publish and store these archival and other materials on modern and good quality internet resources with interactive capability and enable convenient search for needed information. We need to focus on young people above all in this work and offer and promote these resources with the help of social networks.
Let me add that we are always open to honest and professional discussions on historical themes and joint research on even the most sensitive issues, at all levels what’s more, from large-scale intergovernmental programmes to bilateral contacts between regions, twin cities, universities, museums, scholars and researchers.
Common historical dates, including those that recall our brotherhood in battle and our cooperation during World War II are a good occasion for organising international conferences, round tables and exhibitions. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the legendary Normandie-Nieman regiment.
We have less than three weeks to go before May 9. I am sure that streets in Russia and abroad will once again fill with crowds of people willing to join the ranks of the Immortal Regiment. This deeply symbolic and touching event took place in 50 countries last year. This is the best proof of international cooperation’s colossal potential and of how a commitment to historical truth and our common memory brings people closer and unites them, and strengthens the mutual trust so greatly needed in Europe and around the world today.
The Foreign Ministry has overseen the drafting of a report and plan for comprehensive measures in the areas I have mentioned in humanitarian and international cooperation. We will discuss this document today.
Please, you have the floor, Mr Karasin.
Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin: Mr President, colleagues,
At this time of new challenges in global affairs, promoting objective information about our country and its past and present and responding to attempts to falsify history are undoubted priorities for the Foreign Ministry and the other agencies engaged in international activity. We are pursuing this work in accordance with the new draft of Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept that you approved in November 2016. Today, these efforts are particularly important.
Over recent years, history has become a target for the large-scale information campaign unleashed against our country and aiming to contain it and weaken its authority on the international stage.
Constant attempts to revise the results of World War II as enshrined in the UN Charter and other international legal documents are of particular concern, as are attempts to paint with the same brush Nazi Germany, the aggressor country, and the Soviet Union, whose people bore the brunt of the war and who freed Europe from the fascist plague, thereby ensuring the continent’s peaceful development for decades to come. We continue to give utmost attention to responding to this hostile line. We consistently advance the argument, including in key international forums, that it was the united anti-Nazi coalition’s efforts that not only vanquished Nazism but also created the post-war world order and its institutions, including the United Nations Organisation, and gave the human rights protection system its current shape.
We constantly remind our partners of the enduring significance of the Nuremburg tribunal’s decisions that stated in clear and unambiguous terms who was on the side of good and who was on the side of evil.
It was at our proposal that the UN General Assembly passes every year a resolution on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that cause escalation of modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
To expand and support this base, the Foreign Ministry works in concerted fashion in multilateral formats and during bilateral contacts with our partners abroad.
A new resolution was adopted at the plenary session of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York last December. 136 countries voted for this document. Only two delegations voted against it: the USA and Ukraine. 49 countries abstained. It is particularly important and valuable that the number of UN member states acting as co-authors of the document, increased to 55.