President Klaus Iohannis was awarded on Tuesday by the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) the “Light Unto the Nations”, the highest distinction of the organization, which is granted to heads of state or of government as a sign of appreciation for the significant international impact on peace, security, democracy and the promotion of human values.
Allan Reich, a member of the AJC Executive Council, stressed in a foreword about President Iohannis that he was awarded the distinction for his support of the rule of law.
“At the beginning of the year, while hundreds of thousands of people marched through Bucharest to protest the Government’s debatable efforts to impede the fight against corruption, President of Romania Klaus Iohannis stood on the right side of history, supporting transparency, the rule of law and freedom,” Allan Reich specified.
In his speech addressed to the participants at the Forum, the Head of state announced that he accepted the distinction for the Romanian people as a recognition of the faith in democracy.
” I accept the Light Unto the Nations prestigious award not for myself, but for my country and the Romanian people. It is their belief in democracy and the rule of law which is acknowledged through this award, and which has brought us, as a nation, where we stand today… As a country once trapped in the darkness of communist dictatorship, we have come a long way. We have faced and overcome many challenges during the process of building a solid democracy based on the rule of law, a free-market economy, and an open society,” stated Klaus Iohannis at the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee.
The Head of state emphasized that, at times, through the sacrifices of the Romanian people, our country has earned its rightful place among the nations that value, protect and promote the principles of democracy.
“This very special award makes me assume an additional commitment to put all of my strength, as President of Romania, to pursue justice, democracy, the rule of law for my country, for the region and globally.” said Iohannis.
He also spoke of his vision of a strong, modern and stable Romania, developed through significant projects, and of the necessity to establish a mentality based on normality, democratic consensus and accountability.
“We need to build together an enduring project of a nation determined to achieve its full potential. To this purpose, strengthening the rule of law and safeguarding judicial independence are, for me, top priorities. The fight against corruption is in good progress, but we need to continue. It is my personal pledge to further support it with even more intensity and determination. There is no other way forward!” he added.
Also attending the event were the wife of the president, Carmen Iohannis, the Romanian ambassador to the USA, George Maior, the Director of the Romanian Information Service, Eduard Hellvig, and the presidential advisor Bogdan Aurescu.
“We will continue to be one of most powerful transatlantic pillars inside the European Union”
Romania, as a member of NATO and the European Union, is a strong promoter of the transatlantic ties, President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday at the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee.
“We must keep and reinforce its strength against the challenges both Europe and America have to cope with. Both Europe and America need it, no matter if we speak about the EU-US relationship, or about what we have to do within NATO. Present day Europe is faced with multiple, unprecedented crises. Extremism, nationalism, populism, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination are threatening our democratic societies,” the head of state said.
According to him, the challenges undermine the European project and lead to mistrust, resignation, skepticism and lack of solidarity.
“I am sharing these thoughts because the US also need the European Union, as a strategic partner, to be strong and united. The security of the EU, in the broadest sense, of Europe as a whole, is highly relevant for the security of the United States. It was always the case, and it will still be. In this context, I can assure you that we will continue to be one of the strongest transatlantic pillars inside the EU. The transatlantic link continues to be our strongest guarantee for security, fundamental freedoms and prosperity,” pointed out Iohannis.
The head of state also talked about excellent military co-operation with the United States, but also about the potential in other areas of bilateral co-operation.
“Romania’s hosting of the US Aegis Ashore Facility at Deveselu is one of the most important projects of the Strategic Partnership. Beyond the security dimension, there are more opportunities. Romania, which had the highest economic growth in the European Union in 2016, welcomes US businesses and investments by providing a safe and open environment. At the same time we look forward to more progress on the innovation, education and research dimension, as areas of great importance for our common future,” affirmed Iohannis further on.
“We cannot allow anti-Semitism to threaten health of our democracies”
Romania has taken on the past and acts as a promoter of tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday at the Global American Jewish Committee.
“I dare say Romania is a strong country. Its strength is not given by geography or circumstances. It’s given by the values we promote and our constant resolve to shape a distinct role of my country in safeguarding regional and transatlantic security. Speaking about the values we uphold, this AJC event is all the more significant as it takes place shortly after Romania successfully completed the one-year Chairmanship-in-Office of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Last year, I was deeply moved during my visit to Yad Vashem, when Romania assumed this chairmanship. In a time when extremism, xenophobia and radicalism are dangerously rising in Europe and in the world, my country fully assumed its past and acts as a firm promoter of tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity.” said the President.
He continued by pointing out that denial of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism threatens the health of democracies, also highlighting Romania’s positive actions as IHRA president.
“We cannot allow anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial to threaten the health of our democracies! So, as chairmanship of the Alliance, we provided support to educational institutions and educators on how to use the lessons learned from the Holocaust tragedy to promote knowledge and tolerance, to strengthen the capacity to prevent anti-Semitism and discrimination,” the Head of state said.
Iohannis also recalled that during the Romanian chairmanship, IHRA adopted a working definition of anti-Semitism in the plenary session in Bucharest, also emphasizing the steps taken by Romania to combat anti-Semitism.
“In 2015, I have promulgated a piece of legislation by which Romania has introduced in its criminal law one of the most modern set of legal rules in Europe, which allows for prosecuting extreme nationalism, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism including when performed on social networks. I have also fully supported the initiative of establishing a Museum of History of the Romanian Jews and the Holocaust in Bucharest, in the near future. The positive example of Romania can be followed by other Central and East European countries, where the communist distortion of the Holocaust left societies too vulnerable to populist excesses for cheap political gain,” stated Iohannis.
President Klaus Iohannis to meet on Tuesday CIA Director Mike Pompeo
President Klaus Iohannis holds a visit to the United States from June 4 to 9, the focal event being the official meeting with White House leader Donald Trump.
Romania’s Head of the State will meet with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, at 14:30 hrs local time, informs the Presidential Administration.
Before the meeting with Pompeo, the President will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery at 10:30.