Holocaust remembrance reminds us of the need to work for tolerance and non-discrimination in our societies, say keynote speakers at OSCE Permanent Council
VIENNA, 21 January 2016 – Remembering the Holocaust reminds us of our duty to speak out against the denial of these grave crimes and to work for tolerance and non-discrimination in our societies, said keynote speakers addressing the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council today, which was dedicated to commemorating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January.
State Secretary Szabolcs Takács from Hungary, in his capacity as this year’s chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and Ambassador Felix Klein, Special Representative of the German Federal Foreign Office for issues relating to Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Remembrance, addressed representatives of the OSCE’s 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, at the invitation of Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship.
Both speakers emphasized that the past will not be forgotten and may not be forgotten. “We remember not only to honour the victims of a tragedy which challenged the foundations of civilization,” Takács said. “We do it with a determination so that events like the Holocaust never happen again and in the hope that the lessons of the past may positively influence the world we live in today and the generations to come.” Takács also pointed out to the “task of governments … to strengthen the security of our populations, without giving way to xenophobia or compromising on the core values of European civilization.”
Ambassador Klein said in his address that “the sufferings of the Holocaust put an obligation on us for a more peaceful and humane future in Europe.” Klein stressed that it remained an important task for Germany “to foster an open atmosphere for a transparent and critical discussion in society about the darkest chapters of our history. This is particularly important today in Europe since we need to come to a new understanding with many people migrating to our continent from different cultures and religions.”
The German Chairmanship reappointed Rabbi Andrew Baker as Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism. There will also be two new Representatives appointed on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims and on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.
In its programme for 2016, Germany has declared the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination a priority of its activities related to the OSCE’s human dimension. It will organize, among other things, a meeting with Special Envoys on Combating Anti-Semitism from OSCE participating States to share best practices and hold a Chairmanship Conference on the issue of tolerance and discrimination in Berlin on 20–21 October, at which civil society will be actively involved. Germany has also pledged a substantial amount to support an ODIHR project on combating Anti-Semitism called “Turning words into action”.
The advancement of the human rights of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE area will, not least against the background of German history, play an important role in the German Chairmanship’s endeavours.