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Speech by Ambassador Alexander Darchiev at the reception dedicated to the Defenders of the Motherland Day

February 23, 2017, Ottawa

Dear colleagues,

         Your excellences, officers and diplomats, dear veterans, comrades,

Welcome to the celebration of the most important and universally loved national holiday in Russia, Defenders of the Motherland Day, dedicated to our Armed Forces, to officers and soldiers who have chosen a hard but rewarding profession to guard peace and security of their sacred Motherland.

February 23rd has a special significance for our distinguished veterans as a day when the heroic and legendary Red Army was born almost one hundred years ago. It glorified itself, while continuing best traditions of Russian warriors, by great victories during World War II crushing Nazi war machine in epic battles of Moscow, Kursk, Stalingrad and Berlin. This comradeship-in-arms is a common heritage with fraternal Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and other states, whose sons fought shoulder-to-shoulder for the Victory over deadly enemy.

Modern Russian Army, inheriting heroic past, together with the Armed Forces of our allies, fulfils successfully the task of keeping security and deterring potential aggressors; Russian Armed Forces have contributed decisively to the fight against the absolute evil of international terrorism by inflicting decisive blows to ISIS and Nusra in Syria, thus clearing the path for political process now underway in Kazakhstan’s fascinating capital of Astana.

We are now standing at crucial crossroads where political myopia and connivance to real challenges, coupled with stirring up fake threats and old phobias, could backfire, causing painful consequences. So, it’s imperative to join forces, while leaving terrorists no breathing space, so that they could not come to our doorsteps of their own choosing. It is also high time for US and Russia, other important world players, including Canada, to give peace a chance by settling seemingly deadlocked regional and international problems.

We, diplomats and the military in active service, have a duty to make our fragile world safer, to promote dialogue and engagement as opposed to self-isolation and name-calling. An avowed advocate of such “big diplomacy” was our great colleague and good friend, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, who passed away so prematurely and who never, until his very last breath, left his battlefield. May his memory be cherished.

Concluding my remarks, I would like to propose a toast for all servicemen, for officers, soldiers and sailors who proudly serve their country, for our veterans, whose bravery, courage and integrity we all take as an example to follow for normal friendly relations between Russia and Canada.

Thank you.