Romania joined European Network Remembrance and Solidarity

On 28 May 2014 Romanian Minister of Culture signed a declaration concerning Romanian involvement in the creation of European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. Romania became the fifth country to join the ENRS, after Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Watch video from the ceremony

On May 28 in Bucharest the Ministers of Culture of Poland and Romania, Bogdan Zdrojewski and Hunor Kelemen, along with the representatives of Germany, Slovakia and Hungary, signed an annex to the founding declaration of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, an organisation whose aim is to develop dialogue and a community of remembrance around twentieth-century history. Pursuant to this document, Romania joined the activity of ENRS, which up to now has involved Poland, Slovakia, Germany, and Hungary.

The most important goal of ENRS is to create tools that enable building a dialogue about the history of the 20th century - said Hunor Kelemen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture of Romania. Since the invitation in 2013, we have been undertaking the efforts to join ENRS. We decided that joining ENRS is an important goal. One of the most important aims of Romanian historical policy is to provide future generations with knowledge about totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and their tragic consequences. This is an extremely challenging and at the same time important that the most tragic events are not repeated. The ENRS Assemblies are attended by representatives of all the countries involved in this initiative. We delegate Dr. Florin Abraham to ENRS Steering Committee. I am convinced that our first joint venture – ‘Freedom Express’ campaign - will have a great impact, especially in the year which marks 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in Europe. We hope that together we can do more.

Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, talked about the beginnings of ENRS: I recall the beginnings of ENRS and Minister Bernd Neumann’s initiative for its establishment. Today, I am sending my greetings to Mr. Neumann, as well as to the new Minister. He also stressed the importance of cultural diversity in Europe: We share a home, we share Europe. Many things have to be identical in Europe … but in culture it is the exact opposite. Originality and uniqueness dominate or simply said the individual is most important. It is vital that we respect this and remain curious of each other and accept each other. This is what I wish to all those sharing our common home – Europe.

The mission of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity consists not only in raising awareness of national historical narratives across the region and in solving the resultant misunderstandings, but also in attempts to overcome social stereotypes and build mutual respect among Europeans. There would be no united Europe today without the message which is nowadays carried out by ENRS and without the history of the 20th century. Transnational discussion about history helps to develop consciousness of young people and build civil society. I am convinced that cooperation between Germany and Romania under ENRS will significantly strengthen the relations of our countries in the field of European culture of remembrance - said Werner Hans Lauk, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Romania

ENRS is also involved in the study of the history of totalitarian systems, dictatorships, wars, and persecution in twentieth-century Europe, and in the dissemination of modern forms of international dialogue about these aspects of history. As the Slovak coordinator of ENRS and Chairman of the Board of the Nation’s Memory Institute in Slovakia, dr. Ondrej Krajňák said during the ceremony of signing of the annex: A country that does not know its own history may repeat the mistakes of the past. The history is what connects us; however we all struggle with its various interpretations. I am glad that, thanks to the signing of the annex to the declaration, our joint work around the history of the 20th century will continue to develop and deepen. 

The most important question we should ask ourselves, engaging in activities of ENRS, relates to the causes and effects of the two totalitarian systems - said Botond Zákonyi, Ambassador of Hungary in RomaniaThe accession of Romania to ENRS is good news for all of us and at the same time a positive message for other countries. I hope that soon other countries will express their interest in this field. The task of the ENRS is not only to take actions aimed at increasing awareness of the different interpretations of history, but also to counteract national and social stereotypes in Europe - especially important issue in the year which marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in Europe.

The initiative of creating the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity as a forum of international cooperation was launched nearly ten years ago. Years of talks on its establishment culminated, on 2 February 2005, in the signature of a special founding declaration by the Ministers of Culture of Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Scientists and politicians from these four countries are members of ENRS bodies. Representatives of the Czech Republic, Austria and Latvia are also present. Negotiations have been held with those countries concerning their inclusion in ENRS activities. More recently, Croatia has expressed an interest in becoming involved in the work of the Network.

The ceremony of signing of the declaration was held on Wednesday in Bucharest. The event was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Marek Szczygieł, members of the ENRS Steering Committee, as well as representatives of Romanian academia and major institutions concerned with history - the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) and the National Institute for the Study of Totalitarianism.

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