Speech by Eleonora Mitrofanova at the International Humanitarian Forum “Mission of Peace and Friendship” celebrating the 70th anniversary of Victory in WWII and the International Day of UN Peacekeepers

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Mrs Deputy Director-General of UNESCO,

Dear war veterans, soldiers, officers and generals,

Your Excellency,

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honor for me to welcome the participants of this International Humanitarian Forum at UNESCO on behalf of the Russian Federation.

It is, perhaps, one of the first events of this format organized by UNESCO. It is attended by highly respected veterans of wars and international conflicts, merited retired officers that represent about thirty countries from different regions. These people have firsthand knowledge of what a war is like.

The world is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory over Nazism, the greatest evil in the history of the humankind. The Victory Day is a big day for all of us.

The Great Victory will forever remain the biggest heroic achievement in the history of our people, the unprecedented deed of the Red Army, which made the decisive contribution to the liberation. But we are also giving proper respect to our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition. We will remember the historical link-up on the Elbe, the trust and unity that became our common legacy and an example of solidarity of nations for the sake of peace and stability.

It was these unifying values that became the foundation of the post-war world order. Thanks to the Victory of 1945, the United Nations Organization and UNESCO were built on the ruins of the bloodiest and most destructive military tragedy in history, and the foundation for the modern international law and new humanism was laid.

It is gratifying to see that our Conference today is a significant part of the broad international program of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO. These institutions have proved their practical efficiency for resolution of disputes and conflicts, their invariable importance and demand in the present-day world, which is going through a new watershed.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that World War II was a combat for the future of the humankind and became the greatest lesson of the 20th century.

I am positive that new generations of Europeans must know how much blood and tears were shed during the war and that 1945 brought not only the huge joy of the Victory, but also the great responsibility for the fate of the humankind.

People of the world, first of all, the Soviet Union, paid an extremely high price for this Victory. This is why we are so eager to secure a peaceful future for our planet, to ensure respect to human life and compliance with the principles of international security.

The Victory required joint efforts of everyone involved in fighting Nazism. We should never forget about it and should do our best to preserve our historical legacy, lasting peace, dialog and humanism.

Yet another important occasion for the International Humanitarian Forum “Mission of Peace and Friendship” at UNESCO is the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which, as you know, is celebrated on May 29.

The notion of “blue helmets” or “blue berets” has become ingrained in the political life of the last few decades. No matter where an international or internal conflict breaks out, international military troops, observers, the police and civil servants are quickly dispatched to the hot spot following a resolution of the UN Security Council to help stop the warfare and restore stability. In fact, these activities have been the most visible part of the UN’s global role, its “signature activity” in the last almost 70 years.

UN peacekeepers have been deployed in such explosive regions as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, in such conflict-torn countries as Cambodia, South Africa, Namibia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, etc.

Today we can see here in the hall veterans of numerous peacekeeping missions, members of the international association Soldiers of Peace, which has been a partner of the UN Economic and Social Council for many years. Let me congratulate you on your day and wish you health and success!

We hope that your experience and knowledge will honorably serve to strengthen peace and counteract today’s most difficult international challenges, including protection of cultural values and priceless historical heritage. It is impossible not to feel pain seeing the destruction of priceless monuments that are in fact a cultural DNA accumulated by the human race over thousands of years and providing identity to many nations. In order to cope with this problem, UNESCO and its Director-General Irina Bokova are taking significant effort to engage UN peacekeeping missions to protect cultural values.

Let me once again offer my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this event and wish its participants rewarding work.