President Traian Basescu on Tuesday decorated the President of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, and the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Aurel Vainer, for their contribution to the consolidation of Romanian-Israeli relations and the promotion of Romania’s image abroad.
The head of the state bestowed the National Order for Merit in rank of Grand Cross on Aurel Vainer, and the National Order of the Star of Romania in rank of Knight ‘in sign of appreciation for their moral and professional stature proven throughout their careers, for their definite contribution that they had in preserving the Jewish inheritance and improving the inter-religious dialogue, as well as for their contribution brought to the consolidation of the Romanian-Israeli relationship and the promotion of Romania’s image abroad.’
President Traian Basescu stated at the ceremony held at the Cotroceni Palace that he felt honoured to be given the chance to bestow these decorations.
‘It is a great honour for me to bestow these very important decorations of the Romanian state. It is an honour first of all because finally the time came when this became possible. Romania didn’t admit until not so long ago the fact that such acts that were related to the Holocaust occurred on its territory and didn’t recognize that Romanian citizens of a Jewish origin were victims of a barbarian ideology. It is the merit of the former President Ion Iliescu, who agreed with the creation the Wiesel Commission dedicated to the investigation of the Holocaust in Romania, and also the merit of the governments that came after him, which followed the recommendations made by the Wiesel Commission,’ the head of the state underscored.
He reminded that every year on October 9 Romania commemorates the Holocaust Day and that this phenomenon is now studied in the Romanian schools, while even a monument dedicated to the Holocaust exists in Bucharest.
‘Definitely, there are still a lot of things to do further. We officially admitted ten years ago that we had Holocaust in Romania. However, it takes a lot more time to make the Romanian people become truly aware of this criminal accident in our history,’ the President added.
The head of state claimed that there are still very many Romanians who say that the Holocausts didn’t happen in Romania.
‘Truth is that the Jews in Romania were carried by the Romanian railways and escorted by the Romanian Army in Transdniester, where they were forced to work and killed. This is what happened and we have to deal with this reality, although I have to say that the present still worries me. After going through the tragic phenomenon that the Holocaust was, today, on the background of a prolonged economic crisis, we see that the left-wing and right-wing extremists, neo-fascists in some cases, are taking roots again in Europe,’ he said.
‘I believe that the Europe living now in peace, the civilized Europe must act very rapidly, given that, while taking advantage of the freedom we all have now guaranteed through democracy, many from these extremist parties think that they can say anything and that they can do anything in the name of the democracy, while, in fact, they promote the fascism,’ Basescu showed.
He gave assurance that Romania will continue to fight for democracy.
‘I can say with deep satisfaction that, although we had elections in December 2012 after a powerful crisis Romania went through, we do not have not even a single extremist party in the Romanian Parliament,’ the head of state highlighted.
Aurel Vainer stated, while he looked very excited, that he was amazed of everything that was happening to him and he thanked the President for the decoration.
‘You are looking right now at a Romanian Jew who survived the Holocaust in Romania and lived until now to see that the Romanian President bestows the second very important decoration on him […] I thank you very much for your open attitude, democratic and courageous in many situations […] certainly, such an event couldn’t take place few years ago. It is a sign that the Romanian democracy does exist and it shows openess towards all the components of this nation, and also openness towards Europe and the entire world,’ the Deputy from the group of the national minorities said.
In his turn, Moshe Kantor thanked the head of the state for high appreciation of his activity, while saying about the decoration he received ‘a true gesture of tolerance.’