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Estonia`s statement at the High-Level Meeting on the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II in Europe

8. May 2020 - 18:55

8 May 2020, "75 years from the end of the Second World War on European soil - lessons learned for preventing future atrocities, responsibility of the Security Council"

Foreign Minister of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu

Allow me now to make a statement in my national capacity.

The Second World War was a tragedy that brought untold sorrow to humankind, particularly in Europe, but also Asia, Africa, the Pacific and other parts of the world, resulting in the death of more than 40 million civilians and 20 million soldiers. We commemorate all those who perished.

From these historic events, I would draw three conclusions.

The first lesson is about freedom. On 23 August 1939, the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a treaty of non-aggression, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocol, dividing Europe between the two totalitarian regimes as their spheres of influence, which paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War. For Eastern European nations, the end of the Second World War was not the end of dictatorship, and it was only decades later they were able to enjoy genuine freedom. And this was a clear statement Estonia made yesterday with the US Secretary of State, and the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

We appreciate the historic role of the allied forces and their sacrifices in defeating Nazism and putting an end to the Holocaust. At the same time, we reject recent attempts to manipulate historical events and justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact we have seen made by the Russian Federation We should remember that after the war, for half a century, many European nations remained under direct Soviet suppression, deprived of freedom, sovereignty, dignity, human rights and free development. It is also true that although the crimes of the Nazi regime were brought to the Nuremberg trials, there is still an urgent need to carry out moral assessments and conduct legal inquiries into the crimes of totalitarian Soviet communism and other dictatorships that prevailed in Europe.

That said, I would like to stress that never again should we let totalitarian ideologies resurface, dictate the lives of peoples and shape international relations. Both Nazism and Communism claimed tens of millions of victims, whose memory will never be forgotten.

The second lesson from the war is the unanimous, clear rejection of the illegal use of force. The spirit of European security, expressed in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris, rejects all attempts to create or re-create spheres of influence, as this will inevitably serve as a cause for conflict. Every state should be free to choose its own security arrangements. Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone has learnt this lesson. We condemn the ongoing violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity in Europe – the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in Donbass, the illegal annexation of Crimea and the occupation of the territories of Georgia.

We condemn such illegal use of force. We have an obligation to uphold our policy of non-recognition.

The third conclusion is an urgent call for international cooperation. During the present COVID-19 crisis, effective multilateralism is more important than ever.

The present crisis urges us more than ever to strive for peace, and to support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. The COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed the pressing need to deal with cyber threats and close the global digital gap as quickly as possible.

To conclude, let me again stress that the lessons of the Second World War taught us to protect our freedom, to reject and condemn the illegal use of force and to cooperate in order to achieve and preserve peace. Now it is time to look ahead. The Security Council should lead by example.

Thank you!

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