by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony

  • 27 Jan. 2023 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 27 Jan. 2023 16:10

(As delivered)

Ambassador Peronaci,
Ambassador Szatkowski,
Ambassador Regev,

Thank you for hosting us today.
And thank you as always for bringing us together for this solemn act of remembrance.
We were delighted to welcome President Herzog to the NATO HQ yesterday to address NATO Allies for the first time in the North Atlantic Council.

Today marks 78 years since the liberation the Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The day chosen by the United Nations to mark International Holocaust Day.
And the moment we remember the millions who suffered and died in the most unthinkable conditions.

This year’s act of remembrance is particularly poignant for all of us here in Europe.
It comes almost one year after Russia launched its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.
The biggest threat to our security since the Second World War.
And an attack on the very foundations of freedom, democracy and respect for the rule of law that our Alliance was created to defend.

We are seeing horrific scenes that we thought we had banished to the history books.
In graphic detail on the streets of Bucha, Irpin and Dnipro, and wherever the Russian forces have been forced to withdraw.
They are a chilling reminder of how fragile freedom is and how we can never take peace and security for granted.

NATO Allies are providing unprecedented military, financial and humanitarian aid.
To support Ukraine’s right to self-defence, as enshrined in the UN Charter.

At the same time, we are strengthening our own defences.
As we have done since 2014.
More forces, readiness increasing, spending more money on defence than before.
But also on the moral ground, on the principle way, on the lessons learned from history.
That atrocities, brutality, wars and crime cannot be allowed.
This is not just a security threat. It's a moral challenge to who we are and the values we stand for.
And this is what this Alliance is all about. Security, but also values, principles, but also action.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We are at another pivotal point in history.
When the choice between freedom and tyranny is clear.
In one place – Ukraine.
At one moment – now.

Many people have opened their homes and their hearts to the millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s systematic attacks on homes, hospitals and schools.
And Poland in particular has taken a significant proportion of these people in despair.

And despite the impact on our own economies and cost of living, our citizens understand the importance of our ongoing assistance to Ukraine.
Because the cost of not doing so will be far greater.
So we’ll support Ukraine’s for as long as it takes.

The theme of this year’s remembrance day is “home and belonging.”
It reminds us that the victims of the holocaust had their homes and sense of belonging taken from them.
And that the violence and exclusion began with disinformation and discrimination and extreme ideologies and ended in such awful atrocities.
It reminds us of our duty – every single day – to do everything we can to prevent prejudice, distortion and denial.

NATO Allies stand together today as we have done for more than seven decades to keep the Euro-Atlantic area safe.
Supporting Ukraine today, is something that we need to do and we will do.

We want to see democracy, freedom and never ever on European [soil] or anywhere around the world, the atrocities
that we are commemorating today. By standing up to our values today, we honour all those who struggle for freedom and democracy every day.

On the other side that this agora of ours, the flag of NATO and the flag of Allied nations are at half-mast. In our hearts the same sorrow, the same prayers and the same determination to never let this atrocity happen again.

We’ll remember.
We’ll always remember.
Thank you so much.