Tuesday, 29 August

Vice Prime Minister Ciolacu: "We owe the victims of war not only the respect and honour of their memory, but also learning the lesson of their suffering. It is incumbent on us to keep up their trust and faith in a free and democratic world”

Vice Prime Minister Ciolacu laid wreaths at the Military Cemetery of the Romanian Army in Zvolen and the War Heroes Monument in Banska Bystrica that has an inscription in Romanian reading "Thanks to the Romanian Army, the Liberator of the city," as part of ceremonies commemorating the Romanian military killed in their line of duty in WWII on the battlefields on today's soil of the Slovak Republic.

The ceremonies were organised to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising that started on August 29, 1944, the national holiday of the Slovak people. The Romanian military contributed, together with their allies, to the liberation of more than 1,700 localities, including 31 cities in the former Czechoslovakia. Their memory is honoured today in more than 50 localities in Slovakia through monuments, commemorative plaques and at military cemeteries.

The ceremony organized on this occasion at Museum of the Slovak National Uprising at Banska Bystrica, was attended by President of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Robert Fico, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic Andrej Danko and Defence Minister Peter Gajdos. In the speech at this ceremony,  Vice Prime Minister Ciolacu thanked the Slovak people and central and local officials for the exemplary way they are praising and commemorating the memory of the Romanian military and sent a congratulatory message to Slovak people on the National Day of Slovakia.

"We owe the victims of war not only the respect and honour of their memory, but also learning the lesson of their suffering. It is incumbent on us to keep up their trust and faith in a free and democratic world and to make our own contribution to the promotion of the values of freedom and peace, and our shared history and experiences have created the premises for the present good bilateral relations. We are partners within the European Union and NATO, where we share the same democratic values and principles, and promote shared objectives in the areas of security and defense," stated Vice Prime Ciolacu, expressing his conviction that the good Romanian-Slovak relations will continue to develop and consolidate.

Attending the ceremonies in Slovakia, as a special guest was war veteran, retired General Neculai Pruteanu, one of the Romanian military who fought in Banska Bystrica, Zvolen, Kremnika, Murani and Breznova, and one of the last survivors who fought both on the Eastern Front and the Western Front.

In addition to participating in these ceremonies, Vice Prime Minister Ciolacu attended a working lunch offered by Slovak Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and the Information Society Peter Pellegrini, and also paid a visit to the Romanian Honorary Consulate in Banská Bystrica.

The Romanian delegation accompanying Vice Prime Minister Ciolacu in Slovakia was composed of Secretary of State with the Ministry of National Defence Mircea Dusa; Romania's ambassador to Slovakia Steluta Arhire; Brigadier General Teodor Incicas of the General Army Staff; Major General Petrica Lucian Foca, Commander of the Joint Forces Command, and State Advisor Florin Vodita.

The members of the delegation awarded on this occasion, decorations to war veterans and handed over the Romanian Armed Forces Emblem of Honor to the mayor of Zvolen, Lenka Balkovicova and to the director of the Banská Bystrica-based Slovak National Uprising Museum, Stanislav Micev.

Please find below the full text of the Vice Prime Minister Ion Marcel Ciolacu’ speech at the ceremony held at the Slovak National Uprising Museum, in Banská Bystrica (check against delivery):

 

Speech at the ceremonies dedicated to the marking of the Slovak National Uprising of August 29, 1944

 

President,

Prime Minister,

Honorable war veterans,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

 I am honored to attend today with you the ceremony commemorating the beginning of the Slovak National Insurrection of August 29, 1944, a national celebration of the Slovak people.

It is a special moment as it is part of our common history and it reminds us of the profound friendship between our nations. It is profound because it is a blood link, forged 73 years ago by the military of our countries, but also by the Slovak partisans and people who fought together for freedom. This is probably the strongest bond that can exist between two nations, as  nothing is above the sacrifice of those who gave their lives, to make our freedom even more precious.

That is why we have the duty to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and to bow to those who endured terrible sufferings during the Second World War, firmly convinced that our dialogue and our peace efforts will prevent the repetition of the unmeasured sacrifices that marked the destiny of mankind in the twentieth century. We are now here to honor their sacrifice and reflect on the importance of their actions.

The Romanian military contributed, along with their allies, within the 2nd Ukrainian Front, to the liberation of over 1700 localities, including 31 towns throughout Czechoslovakia. It was an extraordinary moment, and the enthusiasm of the locals who received the Romanians with open arms will remain forever engraved in our memory.

Those days could not have been better described than their protagonists. Here is what a Romanian military commander wrote in his Operations Diary: "Here, in the middle of the city, we are received by the authorities and the civilian population who, with tears in the eyes, are manifesting their friendship for the Liberating Romanian Army."

We are privileged to have with us today Retired Major General Neculai Pruteanu, a war veteran and one of the last survivors who fought on the front. He is one of the "local sons", as the locals called the Romanian military who fought in Banska Bystrica, Zvolen, Kremnika, Murani or Breznova. Thank you, General, for the heroism you showed in fight despite the fact that you were wounded, for the way you guided your fighters of the 27th Infantry Regiment and all your activity following your return from war, when you became a mentor for the younger generations of the Romanian Army. You have all our respect and appreciation.

More than 500,000 Romanian soldiers and officers fought alongside the general, and more than 66,000 of them were injured or never returned home to their families.

More than ten thousand of the Romanian heroes who sacrified their lives for the freedom of the Slovak territory, found eternal rest in the Cemetery of the Romanian Army in Zvolen, which was arranged by the Czechoslovak authorities in the late 1950s and cared for by the local authorities in Zvolen . In over 50 other localities in Slovakia, there are still plaques, monuments, obelisks or military cemeteries honoring the Romanian military fallen here at the end of the Second World War.

That is why I want to especially thank the Slovak people and the Slovak central and local authorities for the exemplary way in which they praise and commemorate the memory of the Romanian military.

We owe to the victims of the war not only the respect and honor of their memory but also the learning of their suffering. Moments like these remind us that we must always be prepared to strengthen the role of diplomacy, dialogue and international cooperation among states at international level.

 

 

Today, we assume with full responsibility the duty to honor the sacrifice of these heroes. It is incumbent on us to keep up their trust and faith in a free and democratic world and to make our own contribution to promoting the values of freedom and peace.

The remembrance of these tragic events in the history of humanity is part of a European culture of memory and reconciliation with the past, as well as of the belief that lessons of recent history must always be taken into account.

The fact that Europe has been the scene of two global conflicts in just four decades, two humanitarian disasters and unprecedented destruction prompts us to firmly act for a responsible foreign policy at European and global level.

 

Honourable audience,

 Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Our common history and experiences have created the premises for the current good bilateral relations. We are partners in the European Union and NATO, where we share the same democratic values ​​and principles and promote shared objectives in the field of security and defence.

Romania, as EU member state, wants more solidarity and unity, because we are never stronger than when we are united.

That is why I want to assure you of Romania's determination to work, together with Slovakia and the other partners in the Union, to relaunch the European project built on solidarity and unity and respect for the fundamental European fundamental principles and freedoms, a project to meet as best as possible the day-to-day expectations of European citizens.

There are multiple challenges and risks to European stability and security. The continuation of violent conflicts near Europe's borders and the spread of their consequences in the EU, through illegal immigration, the risk of terrorist attacks, cyber attacks, distortions of the internal market, accentuates the fragmentation tendencies within the EU. I think, however, that addressing these security risks and challenges must be done wisely, but also in the letter and spirit of European and international norms and principles that states have endorsed.

With the strong belief that the good relations between Romania and Slovakia will continue to develop and consolidate in many areas, please allow me, on behalf of the Government and the people of Romania, to once again extend my most sincere wishes for health, peace and happiness.

 

 



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