Today, 1 April, the IHRA Presidency will be handed over from Germany to Greece. This means that the outgoing Chair, Ambassador Michaela Küchler, will take on a supportive role as a member of the Troika, which comprises last year’s, this year’s and next year’s IHRA Chairs.
Normally, handovers are marked by ceremonies hosted at an embassy in the incoming Presidency’s country. However, this year, in keeping with the digital spirit of the past year and in lieu of an in-person ceremony, the outgoing and incoming Chairs prepared Handover Videos. These provide great insight into the promising plans for the furture and the fruitful efforts of the past.
Reflecting on an unprecedented Presidency
Ambassador Michaela Küchler outlined the challenges and successes of this unprecedented year. “Being able to work together across time zones, from Winnipeg to Berlin to Melbourne, required more than just a working microphone and a stable internet connection,” she said. “It required all of us to want to get something done. And we did.”
Ambassador Küchler focused on the practical tools developed this year: the non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination, Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers, the #ProtectTheFacts campaign, and the Handbook on the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Soraya Post, Roma activist and former Member of the European Parliament, IHRA Honorary Chairman Professor Yehuda Bauer, and Francis Kalifat, the President of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France, provided statements on the significance of these efforts.
Bolstering Holocaust education efforts
“The thread running through this Presidency will be teaching the Holocaust, including combatting denial and distortion in the new fields now opened by the net,” said incoming IHRA Chair Ambassador Chris Lazaris in his address to the IHRA’s delegates.
“As the years pass, it is our duty to tell this story. To preserve the memory, to learn the lessons, to never, never forget,” said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias highlighted the plans for the official opening of the Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki, as well as many other sites dedicated to the memory of those who died in the Holocaust.
The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs also provided statements, underlining the crucial role education and the education sector play in combatting antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred. The incoming Presidency also showcased a video from a school competition, highlighting the importance of finding creative ways to engage students in learning about the Holocaust.