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PM to attend D-Day commemorations

31 May 2004 Media Statement

PM to attend D-Day commemorations

Prime Minister Helen Clark will lead attend the sixtieth anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in France at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, along with New Zealand veterans and representatives of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The D-Day commemorations will take place in Normandy on June 6 along with the leaders of other World War Two Allied nations. Dignitaries present at the celebrations include Queen Elizabeth II, United States President Bush, French President Chirac, British Prime Minister Blair, German Chancellor Schroeder, Russian President Putin, Australian Prime Minister Howard and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and other leaders from across Europe.

Helen Clark said that D-Day was one of the most momentous events in World War Two.

“While no New Zealand units per se were involved in D-Day landings, there was significant New Zealand involvement from among the 4700 New Zealand personnel attached to the Royal Navy and the six thousand attached to the Royal Air Force at the time.

“It is important that New Zealand’s contribution to the winning of World War Two be neither forgotten nor overlooked. New Zealand’s presence at the commemorations underlines our record of service and sacrifice in support of the ideals of a free society, and reinforces awareness of the history and values we share with Europe.

“The government has funded the Office of Veterans’ Affairs to escort ten veterans to the commemorations. They were chosen by ballot.* Veterans undertaking private travel have been eligible for the $2000 subsidy.”

Helen Clark will also visit the Netherlands and Norway for meetings with their Prime Ministers and senior government figures, and attend a panel meeting of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva discussing globalisation.

“New Zealand’s relationship with the Netherlands is a longstanding and warm one. From July, it will assume the presidency of the European Union, at a time when the Commission and European Parliament are undergoing significant change.

“I will meet Queen Beatrix, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, and Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Bot. I will also visit the International Criminal Court, and the International Court of Justice.

“The ILO high-level panel discussion on globalisation in Geneva will include a number of other leaders and provides an excellent opportunity to project New Zealand’s views. It is the first visit by a New Zealand Prime Minister to the organisation since Peter Fraser addressed the ILO in Philadelphia in 1944.

“Norway, one of the few non-European Union countries of the region, is a nation with which New Zealand shares many views on a wide range of international issues. I will meet Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, and visit Norway’s Parliament,” Helen Clark said.


ENDS

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