Posted: 19.09.2023 17:06:00

The power of unity

People’s Unity Day is a new tradition in the history of a sovereign country. This year, Belarus celebrated this new national holiday for the third time, which has its roots in the first half of the 20th century, when the country and people were divided in half for almost two decades. The central event on September 17th was the ‘We are Belarusians!’ patriotic forum, which took place at the Minsk Arena. Numerous delegations from all regions and Minsk attended the event. These include youth, athletes, representatives of public associations, political parties, and the media. The forum was also attended by heads of government agencies, international organisations, and heads of diplomatic missions. The plot was based on a narrative about modern Belarus — its traditions, achievements and future. President Aleksandr Lukashenko made a speech at the celebration, addressing his compatriots live.

“Today is September 17th — People’s Unity Day. Our unity, the unity of the Belarusian people, the symbol of which was 1939 — the year when the Belarusian lands reunited into a single state. Time itself, the time of the global redivision of the world, returned this date to the calendar of public holidays. The more we see how modern states are collapsing, how peoples are losing their homeland, home, traditions, the more closely we look at the history of our native land. The land which thousands of years ago welcomed our ancestors with a harsh climate, taught them to stick together in order to survive and become masters in their homes,” the President stressed.
The Head of State emphasised that for many centuries Belarusians were one: when they adopted Christianity, when they were up against the German Teutonic Order, Napoleon's French army, when they defended their faith, language and culture, when they created the basis of their national statehood together with the fraternal Soviet peoples, when they stood up against fascist aggression and when they rebuilt the Soviet country from the ashes of the Great Patriotic War. And also when they began to build a sovereign Belarus on the ruins of the Soviet Union.
“ Until recently, we hardly remembered about that dramatic time — the period of dismemberment of our Belarus in half! Everything went into the shadow of the global tragedy of the Great Patriotic War, World War II... We, Belarusians, did not accuse our neighbours, but we always remembered: how Belarusians were taken away from their schools, our faith, land, natural resources, how our ancestors died without medical care, how humiliated and destroyed morally and physically everyone who was devoted to their native culture, faith, language and traditions. Is it possible to forget how cannons were fired at Belarusian villages, how Belarusian children were beaten with rods in foreign schools, how Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians were tortured in a sophisticated manner in the Polish concentration camp in Bereza-Kartuzskaya? These are all facts. But we overcame this pain for the sake of friendship with the Polish people. People over Bug River misinterpreted it for weakness. But the lesson has been learned. Time has shown that our neighbours did not appreciate our noble desire to live in peace. I’m not talking about the Polish people. I’m talking about the elite — politicians who have been thirsting for revenge all these years,” the Head of the Belarusian State said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko addressed his neighbours, or rather, the peoples of neighbouring countries: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians.
“Be aware! We are not hatching plans to interfere in your life. We wish you only well, happiness and peace! But peace is so fragile that any careless movement can lead to grave irreparable consequences. I would not like our lands to once again become a theatre of military operations or millions of our citizens killed again. As it has always been in history,” the Belarusian leader noted. 
“Belarusians do not need someone else’s. But please remember (I address the peoples of the neighbouring states): in the event of an aggression against Belarus, we will do no red, yellow, black or blue lines! The line is there, it is the state border! We have something to respond with. Therefore, let’s live amicably, in a neighbourly way, as it was in the best times of our history. But today’s vultures are circling over us, as it was in the run-up to the Great Patriotic War. They are circling around the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian lands. They are ready to make an alliance with the devil himself, if only to take more space on the political map of the world... ‘Od morza do morza’. They would like to erase the facts of political shame and moral decline of their predecessors. They themselves would like to forget how Poland was one of the first to recognise the Nazi Reich. This is the fact. It signed a non-aggression pact with it and a secret agreement on the division of Czechoslovakia. They would like to forget how, having received part of someone else’s territory, they were crushed within a short time by their former ally. In no case should our neighbour forget this page in history.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko asked a rhetorical question: would it have remained on the world map if not for the Soviet soldiers? And if yes, within what borders?
“The authorities of our neighbours are not asking such questions today. They continue to destroy traces of the memory of their liberators. But why? They are gone, they are dead. All right, they don’t appreciate them for liberating their lands. But why they feel the need to rake over the old ashes? Let them remain as they are. Yet they dig up everything, blow up and destroy, erase from memory the best things that were in the history of neighbouring states. We, on our part, are drawing conclusions again,” the President said.


According to him, therefore today, on September 17th, the day when the Red Army began the momentous liberation campaign, Belarusians celebrate one of the most important state holidays — People’s Unity Day. Unity tempered in a selfless struggle for our national dignity.
“We are proud of the indomitable will of those who did not submit to the anti-human regime. Those who went underground, waged a guerrilla liberation war, resisted the policy of forced assimilation. If there had not been such a large-scale nationwide resistance, there would have been no reunification of the Belarusian people in 1939 into a single state. And there would be no modern sovereign Belarus if it were not for the conditions created in the family of Soviet peoples. We know that. We remember this. Both then and today, unity has been… Unity has been essential for the preservation of our state and its future. This is a matter of our survival as a nation,” the President is convinced.
According to him, September 17th is one of the three milestone dates in Belarus, along with May 9th (Victory Day) and July 3rd (Independence Day), which provide an opportunity to take a look into the past in order to hold the present firmly in your hands and protect the future.
“These dates unite us, modern Belarusians, in an effort to protect our historical memory in the name of peace in our native land. I emphasise once again: we are not an aggressor. Our people, in fact, cannot be an aggressor. We do not threaten anyone and never will. This is not our policy. Objectively, we cannot threaten anyone. But we must defend ourselves, whether we are strong or weak. This is our historical role, of the generations living in Belarus today. Therefore, no matter what internal political processes take place in our neighbouring states, the Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, and Ukrainians should understand: we are the most peaceful nation on the planet. We are not rattling nuclear weapons or some units such as Wagner, and we are not threatening anyone,” the Head of State continued.
At the same time, the President again called for turning to history: the Belarusians had never threatened anyone before, but they virtually wiped us off the face of the earth. Belarus lost every third person in the last war. 
“We taught and continue to teach history. And we will always be ready to defend our Fatherland and our land! I am addressing Belarusians today. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I want to assure you: we do not want to fight and will not fight. There will be no war in modern conditions on the territory of Belarus, because it is impossible! If, God forbid, anything happens, we will all become the Brest Fortress. We will defend our land, which belongs to our children, to the last soldier, to the last Belarusian man! We will do this in the name of peace in our native land, in the name of Belarus, which we are building on the foundation of victories, achievements, experience and memory of our heroic ancestors,” the President summarised.

Based on materials of and