French Ambassador Michele Ramis, German Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt, and Bulgarian Ambassador Todor Churov, on Sunday, participated in a joint ceremony where they paid tribute to the heroes of the First World War, on the occasion of the November 11 Truce Centennial.
The ceremony, during which they paid a tribute to the French, German and Bulgarian soldiers who died on the battlefield, as well as to all the civilians who were victims of the Great War violence, started with a ceremony where they laid wreaths at the square of the French Heroes at the Bellu Cemetery and continue with similar ceremonies for the German and Bulgarian soldiers at the Pro Patria Cemetery.
Participating in the event were, among others, Deputy PM Ana Birchall, presidential adviser Sergiu Nistor, representatives of the Ministry of National Defence and Princess Maria. Also in attendance were ambassadors of several countries in Bucharest, among which the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, as well as representatives of several religious cults.
The French Ambassador, Michele Ramis, showed in her speech that this year’s ceremony has a special signification.
“Today’s ceremony, organised by three countries that were once enemies is the best symbol of reconciliation. Europe, after learning its lesson from this bloody battles, knew how to build a space of peace, thanks to a strong political project that strengthened the collective security system created by UN and then NATO. As the European Union is struggling now with a profound crisis and wonders about its future, with so many external threats existing against its interests and values, the celebration of the Centennial should be one of hope. Thus, the first half of 2019 will be crucial, especially as the European citizens will be asked to designate new representatives to the European Parliament and, through their vote, to shape the future of Europe. And also for Romania, which in 1918 became a country that united different territories and communities, will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union and will be able to prove the role that it wishes to play in Europe,” stated Michele Ramis.
The French Ambassador also mentioned that the friendship between Romania and France, “built in suffering” in the years 1916-1918, must today serve the European project and the common NATO membership.
“The same as their German and Bulgarian comrades, the Romanian and French soldiers are deployed today in many theatres of operations, where they risk their lives to defend our values and help the countries in crisis. (…). The purpose of this ceremony is to remind us the past and help us build the future, a more prosperous and more peaceful future for the next generations. It is important that the pupils, especially the ones in the German and French schools participating in this ceremony, know that peace is not a natural state, that it needs to be built, and that the European Union has protected us from major conflicts for almost 70 years, which means that it is our turn now to maintain the European Union,” said Ramis.
In his speech, the German Ambassador, Cord Meier-Klodt, underscored that, starting with the year 2015, Germany, France and Bulgaria commemorate together, in Romania, the victims of war and violence.
“This is unique in the world. We are commemorating together the victims of the 20th century’s catastrophes, the victims of war and civil war, racial hate, persecution, exile, expulsion and terror. A commemoration that reminds us, before anything else, of our common responsibility to do everything to prevent such events from happening again in Europe. This year we commemorate the end of the First World War and we celebrate the creation of modern Romania, which is why this ceremony (…) is a very symbolic one. We worryingly discover today that this project of peace, which is unique in the world, our common Europe, is no longer a project that speaks for itself. Populist, nationalist and anti-European movements in our countries, and I say this in plural, are reminiscent of the years before the catastrophe in the 20th century, which caused Europe to enter, like in a state of trance, in a terrible war. History does not repeat itself, this is true, but, unfortunately, the patterns of behaviour are similar sometimes and they can trigger once again such catastrophes that no one wants. We need to be aware of these things in order to be able to fight them together, today. We owe it to the young generation and we must also transfer this responsibility to it,” said Cord Meier-Klodt.
In his turn, the Bulgarian Ambassador, Todor Churov, specified that the commemoration wouldn’t have been possible without the historic reconciliation of France and Germany and without the project of the European Union.
“We have gathered here today to pay tribute together to the Bulgarian, German and French soldiers, buried in the Pro Patria and Bellu cemeteries. This wouldn’t have been possible without the historical reconciliation of France and Germany, which took place and the Reims Cathedral on July 8, 1962. This wouldn’t have been possible without the integration process that is called European Union, thanks to which our continent has developed peacefully. (…) Our firm belief is that we must remain tolerant with each other and show respect to the history that we share, regardless of the differences in interpretation,” Todor Churov said.
The three ambassadors laid wreaths to the French heroes square at the Bellu military cemetery and at the monuments built to commemorate the German and Bulgarian soldiers at the Pro Patria cemetery.
Moreover, they laid wreaths on behalf of the President, Government and the Royal Family, the National Defence Ministry, the Bucharest City hall, the embassies of the US, Canada, Russian Federation, Italian Republic, Austria, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Madagascar.