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Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, Special Envoy on Combating Antisemitism, attends the first International Meeting Of Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (Bucharest, 17-18 June)
For the first time, leaders of Jewish communities around the world gathered for a joint meeting with 22 Special Envoys, Commissioners and Coordinators for combating Anti-Semitism to shape a common strategy for preventing and fighting Antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech. The Meeting was held on 17 and 18 June in Bucharest and hosted by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the World Jewish Congress (WJC).
Greece was represented by the Special Secretary for Religious and Cultural Diplomacy and Special Envoy on Combating Anti-Semitism, Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis. On the margins of the Meeting, he had bilateral meetings with the U.S. Special Envoy, Elan Carr, the EU Coordinator, Katharina von Schnurbein, the German Commissioner for Jewish Life, Felix Klein, the Commissioner of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Michael Blume, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Georg Georgiev, and high-ranking officials of the World Jewish Congress and Jewish communities around the world.
On the first day of the proceedings, the participants had the opportunity, at a preparatory meeting, to consider the issue of measures for combating antisemitism through states’ internal and foreign policies. A joint session was then held with members of the World Jewish Congress, opening with a speech by the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In the third part of the day’s proceedings, recommendations were developed on the issue of state authorities and communities in the joint effort to eradicate Antisemitism. Lord Pickles spoke about the example of the United Kingdom in adopting and assimilating the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. Anna Boksitskaya and Mikhail Fedotov talked about the role of the state and civil society in combating antisemitism in Russia. The third speakers, Ernest Herzog and Omer Barak, discussed the violent face of anti-Semitism in the progression from online insults to physical violence. The first day’s proceedings closed with a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister of Romania for the participating Envoys.
The second day’s sessions took place at the Palace of the Parliament, where there were presentations of practical ways to combat anti-Semitism and a discussion of the role of education and memory in pursuing this goal. At the conclusion of the Meeting, the Romanian EU presidency issued an official Declaration in which it stated that the conclusion of the meeting indicates that significant challenges remain to be tackled, and extra measures should be envisaged in certain areas, with four identified in particular: 1) Improving dialogue and cooperation to ensure the security of Jewish communities; 2) promoting the endorsement of the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; 3) financing Holocaust research, education, and remembrance; and 4) improving the recording and collecting of hate crime data, including specialized training programs for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities and providing support to organizations actively involved with collection of data regarding hate crimes. Leon Saltiel, a Greek who is the WJC Representative in Geneva and Project Manager on Countering Antisemitism, headed the WJC organization of the Bucharest meeting.