On 8 March 2016, Romania assumed the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The outgoing Chair Szabolcs Takács of Hungary handed over the Chairmanship to Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu of Romania. The handover ceremony, which was attended by the diplomatic corps and the media, took place at the Embassy of Romania in Berlin. The event was opened by H.E. Mr. Emil Hurezeanu, Ambassador of Romania to the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the speeches by State Secretary Takács and Ambassador Constantinescu, Mr. Lauren?iu-Mihai ?tefan, presidential advisor, addressed the audience on behalf of the President of Romania, H.E Mr. Klaus Werner Iohannis.
The key achievement of the Hungarian Chairmanship in 2015 was having a specific reference to the Holocaust included in the recitals of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), thereby safeguarding the future of Holocaust research. The Hungarian Chairmanship undertook outreach in Ukraine and the Vatican and the IHRA was joined by two new observer countries in 2015: Australia and Monaco. The Hungarian Chairmanship also sought to continue to increase cooperation between the expert and political level and strongly supported and encouraged more content-focused, project-based activities within the IHRA.
Projects carried out in 2015 include a unique overview of international organizations working on historical and contemporary issues connected to the genocide of the Roma and an annotated bibliography on the genocide of the Roma, an IHRA conference entitled “The Holocaust in Public Discourse. Use and Abuse” and a professional development seminar for educators carried out in the Republic of Moldova together with the national Ministry of Education.
March 2016 will also see the launch of the second publication in the IHRA series, “Rescuers, Perpetrators, or Bystanders? The Neutral Countries and the Shoah” from the Metropol Verlag.
The Romanian Chairmanship has outlined a number of priorities for its chairmanship year, including working with the media and social media, the consolidation of Holocaust education, and the promotion of academic research.
The Romanian Chairmanship also plan to host a conference on 22 May 2016 on 'Combating Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial, extremism and racism' on media and social media prior to the IHRA Plenary meetings. The conference is being organized in cooperation with the Council of Europe.
The handover ceremony was closed with Erwin Schulhoff’s piece ‘String Quartet’ performed by the Furiant Quartet. The ceremony was followed by the opening of an exhibition on 'The Iasi Pogrom' as in 2016 Romania marks the 75th anniversary of this episode in its national history.
Romania became a member of IHRA in 2004. In 2003 the Romanian authorities set up the 'Elie Wiesel International Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania' which released its report in 2004.
More information about Holocaust education, research and remembrance in Romania can be found on the IHRA website.
The Romanian Chairmanship will host two IHRA Plenary meetings during the course of the year, in Bucharest in May and in Iasi in November. More details about the events organized during the Romanian IHRA Chairmanship can be found here.