This April, Russia and Slovakia will jointly commemorate a significant historical event, the 65th anniversary of liberation of Slovakia from Nazi invaders. The defeat of Nazism is indeed our peoples’ common victory, so it was my pleasure to accept the invitation from my Slovak colleague, President Ivan Gasparovic, to attend the celebrations. We appreciate the fact that Slovaks have cherished the memory of actual events related to the Red Army’s liberation mission, held the Russian people in high esteem and done homage to the landmarks in our common history.
Together we will pay tribute to the heroes who crushed the aggressor threatening to enslave our peoples and the entire Europe. More than 60 thousand Soviet troops gave their lives in the fight to liberate Slovakia. Mikhail Savelyev, a legendary partisan who was head of the combat group named For Our Motherland, recalled that local residents had treated his soldiers like their own sons in any place and at any time.
I hope that even today, after many decades, my current visit to Bratislava would demonstrate that kind and sincere feelings toward the friendly Slovak people remain a determining factor in relations between our two countries. Today, Russia and Slovakia are actively advancing their political dialogue, multifaceted economic and cultural cooperation and interregional contacts.
My country is among the three major economic partners of Slovakia. Our bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, including the supplies of nuclear fuel for Slovak nuclear power plants, has been traditionally significant. We are proud of the fact that we have been making joint efforts to promote our cooperative links in high technology. Vivid examples of that include the establishment of the International Laser Centre in Bratislava with Russia’s participation, a proton therapy complex to be opened soon in Ruzomberok, and the Cyclotron Centre in Slovakia’s capital, which is in its final stage of construction. I am convinced that this kind of cooperation would help strengthen our national economies and improve their international competitiveness.
Russia is home to more than 60 companies in which Slovakia has its share, while Russian companies registered in Slovakia are twice as many. We will continue to do our utmost to create an enabling environment for business partners, to “shorten their way to each other” by removing bureaucratic and administrative obstacles, which is among the priorities of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. We expect the members of the Russian-Slovak Business Council established in 2007 to come up with forward-looking ideas and projects. Without doubt, joining our efforts in this area will allow us to fully tap a huge potential for mutually beneficial economic cooperation that exists.
We appreciate it that the Slovak leadership supports strategic cooperation between the European Union and Russia. Its current trend is developing a partnership for modernisation and progress in the technological, investment and environmental spheres. We count on positive evolution of approaches of the EU member states to their interaction with Russia. One of the priorities of our dialogue with Europe is a visa-free travel regime for our citizens. I am convinced that Russia and other European nations should become really close to each other and in the end form a common space of mutual understanding and trust, business and humanitarian cooperation, reliable stability and equal security.
Everyone who lives in the Euro-Atlantic area needs such strong security. The Russia-proposed draft European Security Treaty is designed to draw the line under the Cold War era and codify the principle of indivisibility of security in international law. In practice this means that states and international organisations cannot strengthen their own security at the expense of security of other states and organisations.
The lessons of terrible and destructive wars have clearly shown to the entire world that the notion of security is not something elusive. Russia which suffered most and incurred the heaviest casualties in the last war, strives to act in a clear and predictable way. We are actively working in the area of disarmament and arms control, and seek to achieve a real progress in this regard. The new Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms is an important step in this direction. This historic document will be signed by the United States President Barack Obama and me on April 8, 2010 in Prague where I am going after my visit to Slovakia.
Responsible politicians should not only work for a secure, stable and predictable future, but also have an unbiased attitude to the events of the past. The day of liberation of Bratislava is very dear to us, because April of 1945 was the prologue of the Great Victory. It is important to counteract the efforts to distort historical facts, and we must cherish the memory of how all mankind got together to defeat a common enemy in 1941–1945. This is why we will be celebrating this day on the Slavin hill together with Russian and Slovak war veterans. These anniversary celebrations in Bratislava are bringing us closer to the 9th of May Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, which the President of the Slovak Republic will attend together with other honored guests.
Let me emphasise that today we have every reason to be optimistic about the prospects of Russian-Slovak relations. We will joint efforts in order to reach the level of full-fledged strategic partnership that characterises our cooperation with the closest of our European neighbors. I am confident that such close partnership will be beneficial for the citizens of Russia and Slovakia and will further strengthen stability and security on the European continent.