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PHOTO REPORTS

Remembrance Day at Soviet War Memorial

On 13 November Remembrance Day was marked at the Soviet War Memorial on the grounds of the Imperial War Museum in the London borough of Southwark. Wreaths were laid by Minister-Counsellor Alexander Kramarenko, diplomats from other CIS countries, Second World War veterans, representatives of the Parliament and the local authorities, NGOs, members of public, journalists.

 

Minister-Counsellor Alexander Kramarenko’s speech at the Remembrance Day Ceremony
at the Soviet War Memorial

(13 November 2016)

 

Your Worship the Mayor of Southwark,

Your Excellences,

Dear veterans,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we remember those who fought and died in two world wars for their country. We say “Lest we forget!”. What does it mean today, 100 years after WWI was unleashed? In the first place it means drawing lessons from history in order not to repeat it.

We, in Russia, are proud that were on the same side with Britain in those two wars. Indeed, we were on the side of history.

But it is equally clear today that in 1914 European society was on the threshold of radical change, among other things in response to the contradictions of that stage of globalization, although the word wasn’t coined then. For fear of losing control the elites blundered into war as a policy by default.

Alexander Kerensky, head of Russia’s Provisional Government, seeing off the troops leaving for the front in the summer of 1917, talked about the need to continue the war effort as imperative of the then interdependence. Four months later our liberal elite was swept away by the tide of history.

Now European societies are at another critical juncture. There is an acute need to resolve contradictions, including negative consequences of globalization, accumulated over the past 40 years.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union were misdiagnosed as an end of history, providing basis for inaction and leaving the people at the mercy of market element. References to globalization and technological revolution were made to support the thesis that there are no longer policy alternatives. This was accompanied by interventionism abroad.

Russia, for its part, embarked on the road of change 30 years ago. We know how painful it is. But history works in mysterious ways.

Now the rest of the Euro-Atlantic community start dealing in earnest with their own rot and decay.

The change can only be brought about through democratic process, not abridged by supranational bureaucracy or references to forces beyond Government control. This means restoration of full independence and sovereignty as a basis for democratic accountability and legitimacy.

I am glad to say, that Britain and America, who made a huge contribution to shaping the world, now are leading this transformation charge in the West. Your referendum in June brought a Government which promises to make economy work for all, not just privileged few. The other day, Donald Trump, having won the election, promised a transformative Presidency.

Real change is always controversial. What is important is that this time it comes not through blunders of war, revolutions and civil wars, but by ballot box. And this is history learnt for the XXth Century democracy isn’t compatible with the ХIX Century inequality. No dogma can keep a society in the straight jacket of status quo.

Some are missing the “galvanizing effect” of the Soviet threat. That is why the myth of a “Russian threat” and the scare of a “new Cold War”. But people know better to be duped by that. Your referendum was about Britain and the Presidential election was about America, not Russia.

This is meant to distract from common threats and challenges, coming from the outside world, first of all those of terrorism and uncontrolled migration. They’ve got to be dealt with collectively, including at their source, by all nations in the spirit of human solidarity. That is why Sting sings in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. That is why there are two coalitions, one led by Russia and the other by the US, fighting terrorists in Syria and Iraq. We are working on more coordination between the two.

As it seems to be the case now, we are happy to be again on the side of history with Britain and America, which is in my view, a fitting tribute by our generation to our war dead.

Thank you.

 

 

 





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