President Klaus Iohannis presented on Monday evening three Roma Holocaust survivors and several Holocaust memorial institutes with decorations; in remarks on this occasion, the President said that the danger of a revival of xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes is always present, and Romania should continue the progress made in recent years."The progress Romania has made in recent years is remarkable. We have successfully fulfilled the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the legislation on the fight against anti-Semitism has been improved, the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania has been created, and education on the Holocaust is a national priority. Yet we must not stop here, because the danger of xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes returning is always present. Jewish cemeteries are vandalized, public actors claim the supremacy of particular races, there is a public relativisation of the Holocaust monstrosities, horrendous criminals are given praise, and it's not infrequent that fellow citizens of Roma ethnicity are being humiliated or discriminated against. These developments represent a frontal attack on the rule of law and the democratic principles, which is precisely why the counter-offensive must be firm and in line with European values. Therefore, we need even more education, because this is the only firm commitment that we will put in all our energy to defend in the future democracy, individual rights and freedoms," said the head of the state at the Cotroceni Palace at the decoration ceremony occasioned by the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex.
Klaus Iohannis went on to say that 75 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz camp, "Europe has not yet healed from the scourge of anti-Semitism and the affliction of extremism."
"To build an 'other' and define him as the absolute evil is not difficult. The lesson of the Holocaust is not that far away. In the same way, anti-Semitism, racism and hatred have been transformed in the last century into state politics. Building today's society on sound foundations can only be done with our attention constantly directed to the past, as in a rear-view mirror. The evil must be cut off from the root, and the poisonous seeds of hatred and intolerance, which could sprout anytime, must be destroyed by promoting tolerance, respect for the other and for diversity. Only by cultivating memory do we keep alive the drama of the Jews and the Roma and assume a history traced with thick lines, a painful past that we do not ignore or conceal, but are fully aware of with all responsibility," Iohannis said.
The President assured that he will advocate with the same determination as so far the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and the combat of anti-Semitism, and emphasized that Romania has owned up to the Holocaust and has taken concrete steps regarding the recovery of the memory of this phenomenon, the strengthening of education and research on the Holocaust, the fight against extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance, the improvement of legislation in the field, and pointed out that the entities awarded this Monday have played a decisive role in achieving this progress.
"The terrible sufferings endured by the Roma community in our country in the Transnistria camps are still insufficiently known and evoked. It is time to bring the Roma Holocaust to the public attention and to honor the survivors, each of whom represents a voice of humanity raised against racism and xenophobia," Iohannis said, pointing out that he wants the decoration of the Roma Holocaust survivors Constantin Braila, Florica Craciun and Traian Craciun to represent "a powerful gesture of condemnation by the Romanian state of the tragedy" they and Romania's Roma community have experienced during World War II.
At the end of the speech the head of state asked the participants to observe a moment of silence in tribute to the Holocaust victims.
President Iohannis awarded the Order of Cultural Merit in the rank of Knight, Category E - "National Cultural Heritage" to the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Order of Cultural Merit in the rank of Knight, Category F - "Culture Promotion" to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, the Order of Cultural Merit in the rank of Knight, Category H - "Scientific Research" to the "Elie Wiesel" National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.
Also, the head of state presented Holocaust survivors Constantin Braila, Florica Craciun and Traian Craciun with the "Faithful Service" National Order 3rd class.