BERLIN (JTA) – Romania pledged to redouble the fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Europe as it takes over the rotating chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
On Tuesday, in ceremonies at the Romanian Embassy in Berlin, diplomat Mihnea Constantinescu was inducted as head of the intergovernmental body by the organization’s outgoing chair, Szabolcs Takacs, Hungary’s minister of European Union (EU) Affairs.
Constantinescu said he plans to enlist the media and social media to the cause of fighting anti-Semitism; to promote educational projects on the Holocaust, and to address the genocide of the Roma. Romania also plans to put a definition of anti-Semitism to the test, insisting that all members go on the record to either approve or disapprove it.
Romania, which joined the alliance in 2004, will host two alliance plenary meetings this year: in Bucharest in May and in Iasi in November.
Under the Hungarian chairmanship, the exemption of Holocaust-related material from European Union data-protection rules was “an enormous accomplishment,” the alliance’s executive secretary, Kathrin Meyer of Germany, told JTA. This means historians or family researchers can view material unimpeded. In 2015, the EU also appointed a coordinator on combating anti-Semitism.
Meyer said she had been “extremely skeptical” of a Hungarian chairmanship at first, but in the end was impressed by the chair’s accomplishments on both the EU and domestic levels. She said Hungary “took all the steps” to mend relations between its government and Jewish community and made great progress.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, founded in 1998, aims to unite political and social leaders behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally.
Formerly known as the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, the alliance was initiated by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson.