President Ilves commemorates the end of WWII in Poland (3)
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is participating together with many other government leaders in an international ceremony in Gdansk on Thursday and Friday to commemorate the end of the European battles of World War II. Ilves is in Poland at the invitation of Polish head of state Bronisław Komorowski.
According to president's office, it is symbolic that the end of the war is commemorated in Poland, the country that was attacked by Hitler's Germany on September 1, 1939, as well as by Stalin's Soviet Union on September 17, 1939 - and where the European battles of World War II started.
President Ilves said that the commemoration does not divide us into winners or losers; this day embodies the spirit of remembrance and reconciliation. "We cannot say that that World War II was won by only one country and lost by only one country. This catastrophe struck us all and its impact is still felt today.”
"The terrible violence that was unleashed by Hitler and Stalin's secret pact deprived states of their independence, people of their countries. The bloody victory over Nazism ended the war and brought freedom to many peoples and countries, but not to all. This painfully touched the Poles and other Eastern European nations, who were left in a totalitarian regime's sphere of influence at the end of the war, and also the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, whose countries were occupied by this regime for almost half a century,” Ilves said.
"The answer to the evil of World War II is the membership of the majority of European Union states in NATO and of course the European Union itself, with its goal of a united, peaceful and democratic Europe. A Europe that is not divided between us and the enemy, and where no one's fate will ever again be determined by walls, spheres of influence and secret pacts," president added.
President Ilves will speak at an international conference in Gdansk on Thursday, along with other government leaders. The topics will focus on European integration as a lesson learnt after World War II - and what this means today.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Czech President Miloš Zeman, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will participating, among others.