Serbia's and Russia's shared history forms unbreakeable bond
BELGRADE - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic stressed on Thursday that the history Serbia and Russia shared was an unbreakeable bond of brotherhood and friendship that had always been and would remain a source of pride for the two nations and a benefit to every well-meaning person in the world.
Serbia and Russia are linked by their roots, language, customs, creed, history, culture, exalted belief in freedom and heroism and lost generations that remember the wars the two countries fought alongside, Nikolic said in a speech at the military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of Belgrade's liberation from Nazi occupation.
Today, Serbia bases its economic development on free access to the Russian market and investments from that country, while its energy stability rests on fuel from Russia, especially the South Stream gas pipeline, which will be something the future generations in Serbia will remember the current by, just as the current generation remembers the shared battles, Nikolic pointed out.
Serbia is at a crossroad of civilizations, religions, cultures and military and economic links, so conquerors from all sides have tried to enslave and destroy it, he said.
They did not allow the country to go through a century without having to fight a defensive war, he noted. "And in protecting his home, the Serbian soldier protected also the east, west, north and south, he weakened and stopped aggressors," he added.
The Serbian people have always been proud of their military, not just because it grew out of the people and remained a part of it, but also because it has never fought a war of conquest, said Nikolic.
This military parade is a salute to the modern Serbian soldier, who walks proud of his ancestors' legacy, ready to defend what is his and loyal to his mission to ensure stability in the country and the region and peace in Europe and the world, he underscored.
Addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin, Nikolic said that the true greatness and kindness of a person and a nation is seen in their actions towards those weaker than them, in their attitude towards those to whom they do not have to be good, committed or helpful, but they help nevertheless, generously and from the heart.
"More than once in its history has Serbia, a small Slavic country, received great and heroic assistance from Russia, which you provided without thinking about the consequences to your country or people," the Serbian president remarked.
Serbia will unveil a monument to Russian Emperor Nicholas II in Belgrade, he said. "His ultimatum to the allies (in World War One) that Russia would abandon the war if they did not urgently send ships to the Serbs freezing on the shores of Albania saved the Serbian army and refugees from destruction," Nikolic added.
The Russians also sent their soldiers and war ships to defend Belgrade on the Danube and the Sava in the first year of the war, as though they were fighting on the Volga and the Don, and they sent aid the whole time, Nikolic noted.
Some 30,000 Russian troops fought alongside the Serbs and other allies at the Thessaloniki front, that is why the Russian necropolis at the Belgrade's cemetery Novo groblje is a holy site to all the citizens of Belgrade, he pointed out.
Russia and Serbia fought together against fascism as well. The Partisans and the Red Army liberated Belgrade street by street and building by building 70 years ago, said Nikolic.
The Red Army's 3rd Ukrainian Front fought to free Belgrade as though they were fighting for the freedom and honour of Moscow, the Serbian president stated.
The people of Belgrade have spent the entire last week celebrating the 70th anniversary of this victory over fascism and in commemorating the brave Partisan and Red Army troops to whom they owe their freedom, Nikolic stressed.
Putin: Belgrade Offensive key stage on way to grand victory
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the military parade held in Belgrade to celebrate 70 years since the liberation of Belgrade in World War II was an opportunity to express pride about and gratitude to war veterans, but also to strive to prove worthy of their accomplishments and glory.
The anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade is an opportunity to pay homage to everyone who fought against the Nazis on all fronts. Our fathers and grandfathers fought for the right cause and showed courage on all fronts. Their courage was without limits, they cherished an unbreakable feeling of brotherhood and the state of their spirit transcended everything. We are united by common deep memories at the parade here today,” Putin said.
The Soviet Union, he said, played the key role in the victory over fascism.
But we will never divide the victory saying this is ours and that is others' victory or forget our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, Putin said and urged for preventing attempts to revise history.
The Belgrade Offensive had been an important stage on the way to the grand victory. Our nations have jointly led a long, tough and bloody fight against the Nazis. The USSR and Yugoslavia mounted a nationwide resistance to the aggressor, Putin said.
The Partisans’ operations prevented (German) divisions from reaching other fronts, he added.
We must oppose attempts at turning the Nazis and their helpers into heroes, said Putin, stressing that it was our joint obligation to remember the lessons from World War II and to join efforts in order to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding across the European continent.
The Russian president announced the holding of a joint celebration of the 70th anniversary of the joint victory, which he said had been won at a high price, in May of 2015.
He wished Belgrade and Serbia a happy holiday and rounded off his speech by saying: “Long may live brotherly Serbia.”