Klaus Iohannis said on Sunday, after receiving the Franz Werfel Prize for human rights, awarded by the German Center against Expulsions, in Frankfurt, that “no one would have believed that in the 21st century, in Europe, we will witness such a tragedy as the triggered on February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.” The head of state also added that “Romania was and is and remains a welcoming neighbor for Ukrainian refugees.”
“It is a special fact for me to be in St. Paul’s Church (Paulskirche), the place where the members of the first German Parliament met, on May 18, 1848, to adopt the Constitution that guaranteed fundamental rights and laid the foundations the formation of the German national state. The moment 175 years ago continues to give us confidence in the supremacy of freedom, human dignity and the universality of human rights. This is also the spirit underlying the granting of the Franz Werfel Award. Human rights and human dignity are key elements for a real and substantial commitment of citizens to the construction of societies characterized by freedom, democracy, solidarity, capable of resisting the revival of nationalisms revisionists,” the president said in Frankfurt.
Iohannis also declared that “over time, the Romanian people have built an admirable model of coexistence, in the spirit of lived and shared European values, between the citizens who belong to the majority and the citizens who belong to the minorities”, adding that the Romanians “have demonstrated empathy and availability of help to those driven from their homes by the war launched by Russia against Ukraine”.
“In 2017, in Berlin, when we commemorated the victims of refuge and expulsion, I said in my speech that I would like history not to repeat itself. None of us present here today would have believed that in the 21st century, in Europe, we would witness such a tragedy as the one that occurred on February 24, 2022, when the Russian Federation launched the brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia has systematically committed massive and serious human rights violations and war crimes, which must be punished,” he added.
He also explained that “we are witnessing one of the most terrifying aspects of the war: the forced relocation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.”
“The illegal forced transfer and deportation practices currently being carried out by the Russian Federation against the Ukrainian population, including its practice of removing children from their families and homes, must be stopped. Romania and the Romanians have been with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people since the beginning of the Russian aggression. As we have done since the first day of the war, we will continue to provide consistent and multidimensional support to our Ukrainian neighbors hard-pressed by this unjust war. We act on several levels: political, diplomatic, humanitarian, economic, financial, sectoral, but also by using the instruments of international law. We support holding accountable the representatives of the occupying power who have committed international crimes in the occupied territories. We have mobilized significant institutional and financial resources to provide support to the more than 4.3 million Ukrainian refugees who have crossed the borders of our country. Currently, we have almost 100,000 Ukrainian citizens who have chosen to stay in Romania, including more than 22,000 children”, the president also declared.
Iohannis says that “Romania was and is and remains a welcoming neighbor for Ukrainian refugees”
He also said that “Romania was and is and remains a welcoming neighbor for Ukrainian refugees, providing resources and services specifically intended for them: accommodation, free access to medical assistance, education, the labor market and public transport” .
“This war painfully reminds us of the drama faced by many people in different parts of the world when they are forced to flee their own country from the path of war, destruction and terror and take refuge in a foreign country. So that such crimes never happen again, we must make a united front against any manifestations of racism or intolerance based on ethnic, religious or other criteria. We are concerned about the reappearance of racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic manifestations or attitudes. We must react so that such manifestations do not increase. History has both a pedagogical and a moral function. Knowing the history, traditions and culture of the ethnic groups that live among and with us is the first step towards understanding and respecting the identity of others, and through them towards a harmonious coexistence. The Romanian people have a long tradition of coexistence in tolerance and harmony with all national minorities, an aspect that I can personally certify, being a member of such a minority. For Romania, people belonging to national minorities represent not only a rich cultural and human heritage, but also a real added value for the whole society”, Klaus Iohannis also declared.
The president also added that “in recent years, Romania has developed a balanced system of legislative and institutional instruments capable of preventing and sanctioning intolerance”.
“For Romania, the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities is of particular importance. The minorities contributed to the cultural diversity and to the modernization of Romania, and thus also to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The Germans from Romania, such as the Transylvanian Saxons, the Banatian and Satmaren Swabians, the Tsipters or the Bukovinian Germans, represent an important bridge between our countries. In the current international context, good interethnic understanding, interculturality and solidarity are more important than ever. Today, Romanian society is modern and democratic and promotes universal values such as non-discrimination, tolerance and unity. The support and empathy shown by the Romanians to our neighbors who have been severely tested by the war completes the image of a society that has fully assumed the fundamental values of the European project and that promotes these values in the countries of the Eastern neighborhood of the Union. Today, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are candidate states for joining the European Union, including with the committed support of Romania. They act with conviction to join the European Union because they share our common European values. They are part of us. We must also instill in the young generations the desire and determination to recognize and combat the dangers that threaten democracy and peace,” Iohannis said.
Finally, the president also explained that “for our societies and especially for the younger generations, remembering the horrors of the past is of extraordinary importance. Remembering also means that we have the ability to learn from the past. Only in this way can we look with hope to a peaceful future of Europe”.
The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, received the Franz Werfel Prize for human rights, awarded by the German Center against Expulsions, in Frankfurt on Sunday, becoming the 11th laureate of this prize.
Editor : B.C.