As we gather on the beaches of Normandy to remember the extraordinary sacrifices made for peace, there has never been a more important time to underline our belief in collective defence.
Through the searing experiences of moments like D-Day, we learnt how much more we could achieve by working together as allies than by fighting alone. The NATO Alliance was born out of this commitment to increase our collective security and to ensure that the common cause we found through shared hardship would prevent conflict on this scale threatening our world again.
Just as British and French soldiers fought for victory against a common enemy on the beaches of Normandy, today France and the UK stand shoulder to shoulder against the threats of the modern world. We remain united against international terrorism and extremism – and in recent times our armed forces have served together in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and elsewhere around the world.
But it is not just our military ties that have deepened over these past 70 years. We have also worked together to ramp up diplomatic pressure in advancing our shared values, most recently in the push for humanitarian assistance in Syria and in our support for the Ukrainian government. Alongside NATO, the European Union has also helped us to develop a peaceful continent which is more connected than we could ever have imagined and which has opened up unprecedented opportunities for trade and growth.
So as we look forward to the future I believe we should take strength from the shared hardship of our experience during World War II. It has forged our unique relationship and created a shared determination to work together for a safer, more prosperous future for us all. That future is why so many of our service men gave their lives - and protecting the peace they fought for is the greatest way we can honour those who fell.