“Distinguished delegates of the IHRA member countries, I warmly welcome you to the online Athens Plenary Meeting in the capital of Greece, a city with great history and a vibrant life.
It is a great honor to address this Plenary Meeting of the IHRA, an alliance whose goals and values we firmly support and share.
Greece is hosting this year the Presidency of IHRA, and we are confident that IHRA will have made decisive steps at the end of this Presidency. We are also proud to be part of IHRA, an alliance that is a working diligently and methodically to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, one of the most appalling events in the History of mankind, and safeguard that it will never happen again, which is a most democratic and humane aspiration.
In this perspective, 34 countries have united their efforts and more countries will soon join for a genuine cause, to combat antisemitism, Holocaust denial and distortion, anti-Roma sentiment and keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.
I believe, knowing its full agenda, that this plenary of Athens will be a productive and inspirational meeting and will make a solid impact not only to the endeavors of IHRA but also to the international community as a whole.
The fact that Athens, a city with an incomparable legacy in democracy, is hosting this plenary, can only add inspiration and creativity to your proceedings.
I would like to emphasize that our PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikramenos and our Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Denias place great emphasis on IHRA, the idea of combating antisemitism and keeping the Memory of the Holocaust alive. These are ideas fundamental to Europe and to the health and prosperity of our societies against obscurity, blind discrimination and any effort to revive the gloomiest past we should never forget and never make it happen again.
The Greek Presidency focuses on education. Indeed, publics around the world are being bombarded with inaccurate and misleading information regarding the Holocaust. As fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors – eyewitnesses to the genocide – are alive to share the lessons of the Holocaust and speak the truth, a sound education about the Holocaust is more indispensable than ever, especially in our current media environment that has the capacity for Holocaust distortion and anti-Semitism to flourish. The role of education is critical so that the media accurately depict the Holocaust whether in digital, broadcast or print coverage.
I am really happy that during the Greek Presidency there will take place an extraordinary event, the inauguration of the Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki that was missing so much from the second most important city of Greece, a city that I personally have special bonds with.
The Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki will be an emblematic museum that will strengthen the reconnection of the city with its past and attribute the due respect to the Jewish community at the time that perished almost entirely, during the Second World War.
We, as General Secretariat for Public Diplomacy and Greeks Abroad, supported with all our forces and all our heart this Presidency and although tight in terms of available staff, we devoted our people and joined our efforts so that Greece contributes in the best possible way to the great causes of the IHRA.
Distinguished delegates it is clear that in order to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial, no country can face the problem alone.
The IHRA gathers a set of countries, while more countries are about to join the effort. No doubt, more must be done and the role of civil society will also be crucial in this context.
I wish you good luck with your proceedings, to make an influential big step forward for your cause, which we wholeheartedly espouse, for a more just and equitable global society by keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.”