Senior politicians, diplomats, global figures and experts from around the world will gather in Prague and Terezin on Monday and Tuesday, in the framework of an official European Holocaust commemoration, to discuss how to deal with the rise of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia in Europe at the beginning of the 21st Century, reads a report of European Jewish Press (EJP).
The two-day event, on 26th and 27th January, will be hosted by the Czech government in conjunction with the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and the European Parliament.
EU leaders, including President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, several EU Commissioners, more than 20 speakers from European parliaments, as well as experts on legislation, media and cultural figures will attend this event.
According to EJP, the aim of the forum is to raise awareness among decision-makers and opinion-shapers from a wide range of European countries on the issue of anti-Semitism, racism and religious radicalism, so that they can work towards creating a legal framework to outlaw effectively these intolerant and dangerous tendencies.
‘’Using this forum as a launch pad, the EJC will lead the process towards creating a practical pan-European legislative framework against racism and hate speech,’’ the Jewish group said in a statement, quoted by EJP.
“The situation in Europe regarding anti-Semitism, racism and the rise in religious radicalism cannot continue without endangering the mere existence of European Jewish communities and the safety of Europe in general”, said EJC President Moshe Kantor, adding ‘’Commemoration alone is not enough. To prevent history repeating itself, we need more than speeches about dark chapters of history. We need to deal with the present challenges we face and safeguard our future.”
The Czech Republic was chosen by the EJC, the main organizer of the forum because of its connection to the Holocaust, but also in acknowledgement of its having one of the lowest levels of anti-Semitism found in Europe today.
“We are proud to host an event of such importance in the Czech Republic. Our country has a sad historic experience with anti-Semitism, especially during the Holocaust, when almost 80,000 Jews living on the territory of the current Czech Republic were murdered“ said Czech Deputy Foreign Minister, Rudolf Jindrak, quoted by EJP.
Surveys: 70 years after liberating the concentration camps, anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe
According to EJP, independent surveys show that 70 years after liberating the concentration and death camps, anti-Semitism is once again on the rise on the continent.
A 2013 survey of European Jewry, undertaken by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), demonstrated that 66% of respondents perceived anti-Semitism as a problem in their every-day lives. Almost a third of the respondents were seriously considering emigration from Europe due to safety reasons.
A global poll, carried out by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) during 2013 – 2014, undertaken in 100 countries, demonstrated that over 1 billion people around the world harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. This equals 26% of the total number of people surveyed.
In Europe, 29% of the population were identified as anti-Semitic., with wide differences between individual countries – lowest score Sweden, with 4%, highest core Hungary with 41%. The Czech Republic, with 13%, is in the low end of the scale.
On 26th January, a one day conference will be held in Prague, where various panels comprised of representatives from government, media and world civil society will discuss how to oppose the rise of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism from a political, legal and public perspective.
A panel of international law experts will review and discuss issues relating to legislation, the panel of politicians will appraise and examine the need for enforcement and shared intelligence, and whether stronger pan-European or international cooperation can assist in reducing hate crimes. The panel of civic and public figures will deal with the role of opinion shapers, cultural figures and the media in combating racism and incitement.
On 27th January, Czech President Milos Zeman will host a special session for global leaders, at Prague Castle, to discuss a roadmap towards fighting growing extremism, racism and intolerance in Europe and around the world. This will follow by the participants traveling to the Theresienstadt concentration camp (photo) for the official commemoration ceremony, concludes the EJP report.
Speakers of Parliaments to sign Declaration on combating anti-Semitism , Romania represented by Zgonea
The Chamber of Deputies’ Speaker, Valeriu Zgonea will depart on Monday for Terezin, in the Czech Republic to sign on Romania’s Parliament behalf an inter-parliamentary Declaration on combating anti-Semitism and hate crimes.
“I have received a mandate from the Standing Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies to sign a Declaration on behalf of the Romanian state, in the name of the Romanian Parliament, in Terezin where presidents of parliaments, alongside the European Jewish community, gather these days to commemorate 70 years since the Holocaust. In 2009, the ministers who represented the Romanian state have signed a declaration there. I am now one of the initiators of this declaration,” Zgonea said, at the end of the meeting of the Chamber’s Standing Bureau, reports Agerpres.
He added that he will sent President Klaus Iohannis an information on this topic, because the president is “the foreign policy integrator.”
“With the same resources and during the same mandate, I’ll pay an official visit to Prague where I’ll have bilateral talks with the chairman of the Czech Parliament, with whom I have a friendly relationship. The two of us have worked hard as regards the Republic of Moldova, too, as it is a joint interest of the two states to bring this country into the European area,” Zgonea said.