ΓΡΑΦΕΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ ΠΡΩΘΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΥ
Δευτέρα, 27 Ιανουαρίου 2014
Dear Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, dear friend,
Dear President Ronald Lauder, of the World Jewish Congress,
and Moshe Kantor, of the European Jewish Congress,
Dear Holocaust victims,
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with really great honor that I accepted the invitation of President Schulz to address this outstanding audience on the International Holocaust Remembrance (Day). I am proud that European Parliament under President Schulz formally decided to do so; because this a moral obligation to the principles we all aspire, to the democracies we all serve and to the Europe we are all building together…
This place we are gathered today is indeed the symbol of Democratic Europe, the symbol of a United Europe, the symbol of our common dream, our common vision and our common future.
Yes, our Europe is less than perfect. Yes, it sometimes gives us reasons to disagree among ourselves. After all, this is the nature of free peoples and of free societies. But still it is our Europe! It gave us close to 60 years of peace, progress and prosperity. It gave us a chance to unite the European peoples, with Freedom and Democracy. And I believe this is truly exceptional. And this is the Europe we are proud of! And in Europe we are in absolute Unisom in a number of fundamental principles.
Among them, all 28 EU partners and the EU institutions are in absolute unity, political and emotional unity, across political lines, across geographical borders and, above all, deep in our hearts on our duties about the Holocaust:
-we must remember it with reverence,
-we must make it sure that it is going to be taught to the new generations.
Above anything else, we must not forget, as President Schulz said, what brought us here in the first place: the devastating wars of the first half of last century, the deep rift of our continent, the losses, the pain, the lethal industry of death we saw in the film, not on the battlefield, but in terrifying cold blood, in the Nazi camps. Men, women and children were killed, just because of who they were, of what their race was and on what they believed in; Six million victims, were murdered just because they were born Jews.
This is a truly dark page in the European History; one of our darkest indeed. We are not pretending it never happened. We are only making sure even remotely similar things will never have a chance to happen again.
Just a couple of weeks ago, dear friends, I presented here, at the European Parliament, the priorities of the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Our duty not to allow such horrendous crimes again, is of course a constant part of our agenda: of this Presidency, of the previous Presidencies and of the ones to come. As a matter of fact it is more than a political priority. It is carved in stone in our souls.
As Prime Minister of Greece, last March, I addressed the memorial ceremony to commemorate the first train that drove, 70 years ago, my Jewish compatriots- my mother was born in Salonika- from NAZI-occupied Salonika to the death camps. A leading delegation of the World- and the European- Jewish Congress participated at this commemoration. My message last March can be summed up in two words. “Ποτέ ξανά”! “Never Again”!
This is exactly my message to you today: “Never Again”!
It is our duty to remember. It is our duty not only to the victims of the Holocaust; But also to the generations to come. It is our duty to condemn fully and unequivocally, racism, anti-Semitism and the instigation of ethnic or religious violence as extreme criminal acts.
Back in the forties, Greece was anchored on the side of the anti-NAZI alliance, right from the very-very beginning. It paid an immense toll of human lives lost in just a few years. Greece fought for seven months on two fronts, both a fascist invasion and a Nazi invasion. It suffered three and a half years of Nazi occupation, during which hundreds of thousands of Greeks were executed or starved to death or brutally tortured, because they resisted the occupation every step of the way. And we lost 10% of the Greek population then. And I can only be proud to see among us here tonight three Greeks from the beautiful island of Rhodes who were tortured but survived. And who are with us here tonight.
In that same period dozens of thousands of Greek Jews lost their lives. Historical communities, living in Greece for centuries, were eradicated by the Nazis in just three years. And many Greeks lost their lives just for hiding away Greek Jews…
All of occupied Europe suffered the same ordeal…
This tragedy, of course belongs to the past. But we cannot forget. Today, we are gathered together, countries that fought against each other in the past, now truly united to commemorate the victims and jointly pledge: Never again!
This is exactly the uniqueness and the greatness of the New, united Europe we have built in the last 50 years. Our past does not separate us anymore; it brings us together, in correcting our faults, bridging our gaps, learning from our mistakes.
Today, one hundred years after the First World War, when dozens of millions of Europeans lost their lives in battle, and seventy years after the atrocities of the Genocide and the Holocaust, we have turned those horrific nightmares into a bright vision; and this vision into a reality: United Europe, our Europe!
Today, our United Europe is a beacon and the world champion of respect for freedom, democratic rights and human dignity. There is no room, there is no justification whatsoever for racism and anti-Semitism in our Europe. We, fight them at home and abroad. We won’t allow them to show their ugly face again.
This is not a political choice. This is a founding stone of our Unity; it is a founding stone of our common future.
We have come a long way, indeed. We still have a long way to go.
But we will never forget.
So let me reiterate the same message I sent a year ago, from the Synagogue in Thessaloniki:
“Never again”. “Ποτέ ξανά”!
Say it in all our European languages. Keep it in your mind.
And most importantly, keep it in your heart.
Thank you very much.