Ladies and gentlemen,
The International conference „Perspective to a Future Strategy to Prevent and Fight Antisemitism, Racism, Xenophobia, Radicalization and Hate Speech” which I have the pleasure to open today, is the third event of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, which addresses the topic of combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance.
I welcome the presence to this international conference of the Congress members and leadership, the national coordinators on fighting anti-Semitism, the representatives of the Jewish communities in the world and the leadership and members of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania.
I thank them for their presence today, in Bucahrest, and for the entire support they granted to the Romanian Presidency’s projects devoted to combating anti-Semitism!
The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been closely linked to the fundamental European values of cohesion, including the acceptance and promotion of these values within an ever-changing Union.
We talked about fundamental values – unity, tolerance, understanding, solidarity – in a context influenced by the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. We addressed issues such as migration, integration, inclusiveness, even against the background of an electoral campaign marked by multiple messages ranging from the pro-European to the populist ones.
As regards the fundamental values we referred to, democracy, freedom, human rights and respect for human dignity, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU has set as its essential objective the promotion of the effective fight against racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism, anti-Semitism and the deterrance of hate speech.
Given that the fake news dissemination phenomenon is becoming increasingly acute, the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council has proposed measures to combat online misinformation and fake news, including by improving media literacy and developing European mechanisms which promotes good practices in combating misinformation.
As regards combating anti-Semitism, Romania benefited from the expertise acquired during more than a decade, by assuming the recommendations of the Wiesel Commission that led to a series of positive amendments in promoting education for combating anti-Semitism, preserving the Holocaust memory, granting compensations to the Holocaust victims and perpetuating the memory of the Righteous Among the Nations. Romania has thus become a recognized regional model.
During our tenure at the EU Council presidency, we organized a set of events devoted to this issue, in Brussels and Bucharest, as a natural development of our preoccupations and as the continuation of the Austrian Presidency’s steps, also with the hope that these efforts will be continued throughout the trio Romania –Finland –Croatia.
The first event organized at the European Parliament on February 7, 2019 was devoted to combating anti-Semitism at European level. We consider this event a success because the international Jewish organizations, partners in organizing the event, circulated a document comprising a list of recommendations for the Member States and Jewish communities, to ensure the concrete implementation of the provisions of the December 6, 2018 Declaration of the EU Council regarding the fight against anti-Semitism.
The Bucharest event of March 13, 2019 approached the role of memorial museums in combating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and focused on promoting one of the most important projects so far, at national level –opening of the National Museum of the Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania.
Today’s event brings to mind major concerns included both on the agenda of European and international institutions. I would recall the importance of increasing coordination between the EU Member States as well as making some decisions on the appointment of a European coordinator on issues related to anti-Semitism. There are even more important issues as we find ourselves at a time of reshaping the architecture of the future Commission.
During the rotating presidency, Romania reiterated the importance of respecting human rights and reducing the gap between EU citizens, and I consider these elements to be of major relevance to the dialogue we have with the Jewish communities.
We are all concerned with developing education about the Holocaust with all the issues arising from it and there are many proposals – a common curriculum, the setting up of a guide under the aegis of international forums being just the first of a long list.
I voice my belief that you will propose a coherent and impact model that will be largely adopted.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I assure you the Romanian Government’s involvement on this topic will continue.
We would like Romania’s efforts in the field of Holocaust education, research and memory and the fight against anti-Semitism to be a point of reference for all states in the region but also internationally, we also want Romania’s ambitious projects in this field to be continued and implemented.
Events such the one today represent important steps towards deterring the development of extremist and intolerance phenomena.
If Romania, along with you, suceeded in contributing to the adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism, we can think together of creating instruments to combat hate speech and fake news.
I would like to thank you for attending today’s event and to wish you good luck at the conference sessions!