Today, Croatia assumes the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) from Sweden. Ambassador Terezija Gras, State Secretary for European Affairs, International Relations and EU Funds, and Sara Lustig, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Holocaust Issues, Combating Antisemitism and Relations with Jewish Organizations, are the Co-Chairs of the Croatian IHRA Presidency.
Croatia’s Presidency follows the successful Swedish Presidency, which saw the follow-up on the Malmö Forum pledges, The International Conference on the Genocide of the Roma and Combating Antigypsyism, and a powerful statement condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Under the leadership of Terezija Gras and Sara Lustig, the overarching theme of the Croatian Presidency will be the Future of Remembrance, while the visual identity of the Presidency is #FORtheIHRA. Croatia will hold two plenary meetings this year: the first in Dubrovnik and the second in Zagreb. There will also be a conference on the Future of Remembrance in the second half of September in Osijek. Croatia will also hold an international conference on the genocide of the Roma.
Croatian Prime Minister stresses the importance of remembrance
The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, launched the first day of the Croatian Presidency with opening remarks. He said that “remembrance of the Shoah is more important than ever, since our generation is the last to have had the opportunity to know its survivors and witnesses. As the last Holocaust survivors leave us, the whole world will have to decide what the future of global Holocaust remembrance will be without them. We must ensure that the Holocaust is not relegated to books, films, archives and museums, and instead preserve a living memory of the darkest hours of the history, so that genocide and mass atrocity crimes will be prevented.”
The Prime Minister also laid out the Future of Remembrance Initiative: “The aim of this Initiative is to give the IHRA greater visibility, while at the same time safeguarding contemporary memory by developing digital technological solutions, promoting tolerance and the IHRA definitions, and combating hate speech in sport. This will make Holocaust remembrance, combating antisemitism and anti-Roma discrimination more accessible and relevant to all generations, despite their age and locality.
In conclusion, the Prime Minister said: “Our Presidency will be about proving that the Holocaust is not just about the past, it is also about the present, but most importantly, it is about the future!"
IHRA Co-Chairs share the priorities of the Croatian Presidency
Sara Lustig, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Holocaust Issues and Combating Antisemitism and IHRA Co-Chair, presented the first priority of the Croatian Presidency: “Our first priority will be the marking of the tenth anniversary of the IHRA’s Working definition on Holocaust denial and distortion. This definition, adopted by the Alliance during the Toronto Plenary, is one of the IHRA’s greatest tools and is central to the IHRA Strategy for 2018 until 2024. At the Zagreb Plenary, we hope to present an IHRA-wide Statement on the successes of this definition, thus continuing one of the priorities of the German IHRA Presidency. The Recommendations for Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion are a living document and now we need to decide how to monitor and enforce countering distortion, in all our societies and in the digital space. This is especially important in light of recent disinformation and rise in extreme antisemitism, which amounts to Holocaust denial.”
Ambassador Terezija Gras, State Secretary for European Affairs, International Relations and EU Funds, for the government of Croatia and IHRA Co-Chair, thanked the outgoing Chair of the Swedish Presidency and introduced the second priority of the Croatian IHRA Presidency: “Another success of the Swedish IHRA Presidency was to strengthen the IHRA by securing a new financial model. Now that the issue of funding has been resolved and as the IHRA starts a new chapter, the Croatian Presidency will undertake the remaining item in terms of internal strengthening of the Alliance. In 2016, an independent evaluation report of the IHRA’s achievements provided ten recommendations, all of which were endorsed and adopted by the Iasi Plenary in 2016. Of the ten recommendations adopted, the last item that needs to be completed is structural reform. However, it should not be confused with governance reform.” Ambassador Gras, realizes that this is an ambitious goal, yet she believes that all IHRA member states will benefit and that by the Dubrovnik Plenary we should have first concrete results, “because this is in the best interest FOR the IHRA.”
IHRA Secretary General reflects on the Swedish IHRA Presidency and welcomes Croatia
Dr. Kathrin Meyer, Secretary General of the IHRA, said: “The IHRA is honored to have Croatia hold the IHRA Presidency at such a critical time for the future of Holocaust remembrance. We thank outgoing IHRA Chair Ambassador Ann Bernes and the Swedish IHRA Presidency team for their exceptional leadership, navigating our organization during a year that was challenging for the entire world. We look forward to continuing this substantial work to counter Holocaust distortion and safeguard the record together with the Croatian Presidency."