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Greece Takes Over Presidency of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Greece has taken over the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) from Germany.

The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance and to uphold the commitments to the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.

The IHRA Presidency was handed over to Greece on April 1. To avoid a physical handover ceremony due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the outgoing and incoming IHRA Chairs prepared handover videos that provide great insight into the promising plans for the future and the fruitful efforts of the past.

The central theme of the Greek Presidency is “Teaching and learning about the Holocaust: Education for a world without genocide ever again”.

“To remember means to be human. To educate on things of the past is a responsibility of the present. Education about what happened in the past is our responsibility in the present,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in his video message.

“Over 20 years after its inception, the work of the IHRA is more important. Because, as time passes, the risk of memories fading increases, and events closer to the present appear more dominant than the horrors of the past. The IHRA matters precisely because its work helps to combat that risk. By shinning a light on the past, we are sending the clearest possible message for the future: Never forget. Never again,” he added.

In his message, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias highlighted Greece’s plans for the official opening of the Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki, and many other sites dedicated to the memory of the people that suffered and died in the Holocaust.

In addition, Education Minister Niki Kerameus spoke about the educational activities and events scheduled to take place during Greece’s Presidency.

Greece will hold the presidency of the IHRA for a year.

In her handover video, outgoing IHRA Chair 2020-21 Michaela Küchler outlined the challenges and successes of the German Chairmanship.

She focused on the practical tools developed this year: the non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination, recognizing and countering Holocaust distortion, the #ProtectTheFacts campaign, and the handbook on the practical use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

“Being able to work together across time zones, from Winnipeg to Berlin and Melbourne, required more than just a working microphone and a stable internet connection. It required all of us to want to get something done. And we did,” she said.

The IHRA (formerly the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, or ITF) was initiated in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. Today the IHRA’s membership consists of 34 member countries, each of whom recognizes that international political coordination is imperative to strengthen the moral commitment of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

The IHRA’s network of trusted experts share their knowledge on early warning signs of present-day genocide and education on the Holocaust. This knowledge supports policymakers and educational multipliers in their efforts to develop effective curricula, and it informs government officials and NGOs active in global initiatives for genocide prevention.

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