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Opening ceremony of the Hill of Honour Memorial

August 20, 2010, Gyumri

Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan attended the opening ceremony of the Hill of Honour Memorial in northern Armenia.

The Hill of Honour is a military cemetery founded in 1855. The memorial was built on the site where 156 Russian officers who died fighting in the Russo-Turkish wars of the nineteenth century are buried.

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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, friends,

For me, today it is indeed a special pleasure and an honour to be here with the President of Armenia and to participate in the revival of this war memorial. Buried here are Russian officers, soldiers, and doctors, fallen during the hostilities of 1855 and 1877–1878.

In the name of all Russian citizens, I would like to thank the leaders and the people of the brotherly Armenian nation for such a caring attitude toward our joint history, the memory of our warriors, and for maintaining the historic truth about the battles for the Caucasus, which may be especially important today.

Back then, in the 19th century, our forces were not only present and entrenched in the region, but also creating truly historic conditions for the rebirth of the peoples of the Caucasus, preserving their native languages, cultures, and beliefs. During that period, these campaigns caused an enormous upsurge in patriotism in our nation, and many of our classic writers from that period stated exactly that: that all of Russia is there, and they needed to go there as well. Leo Tolstoy once wrote about this.

The Armenian volunteer militias fought shoulder to shoulder with Russian soldier-liberators, along with thousands of peaceful citizens of other ethnicities – Armenians, Georgians, and Ossetians. They defended the independence of their homelands, and we must remember that. It is very important not to allow tactical or political considerations to prevail over historical truth, which is something that has happened many times in the history of humankind and which I am certain that we will never allow in our relations.

These particular circumstances not only brought about military brotherhood but also strengthened the friendship between our peoples and nations, forming traditions of mutual assistance and camaraderie that proved so important in the years of the Great Patriotic War. These traditions are being strengthened during our lifetimes and will be carefully maintained in the future.

The President of Armenia just spoke about signing new documents to serve as the foundation of our particular allied relations. We will work together to maintain peace and security on a bilateral basis, in multi-party formats, and within the framework of structures that we have created together. We will effectively use this potential for supporting peace and stability in the Caucasus. We all need this: Armenia needs it, other states need it, and Russia needs it.

Together, we will fight the threats that still exist in the region, and we will help one another.

In conclusion, I would like to once again express my enormous gratitude to the President of Armenia and all our Russian and Armenian colleagues who have participated in the revival of the Hill of Honour Memorial. Let this lovely, majestic memorial serve as a reminder of our friendship and the glorious traditions of our history; let it become another symbol of alliance, mutual brotherly cooperation, and the friendship between Russia and Armenia, which has spanned over centuries.

August 20, 2010, Gyumri