Message of President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Fascism and Communism

23 August 2019

President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, on Friday, 23 August 2019, sent a message on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Fascism and Communism.

The message, as translated, reads:

Peace and prosperity are not to be taken for granted and do not represent permanent achievements. Acknowledging the historical truth and consolidating democracy and the rule of law are the cornerstone of European Romania 

Eight decades ago the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was signed, a coward and dishonest document that led to ending the destinies of millions of people, to mutilating the future of the European societies, to disdaining freedom in all its forms and fed the scornful behaviour towards life and human dignity. The so-called division by spheres of influence in Europe between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union meant flagrantly damaging the most basic principles of international law norms and beginning the age of chaos and war.    

The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was the alliance of evil. While pretending to take care of peoples, the totalitarian regimes broke and ruined the European societies and seeded everlasting human suffering. The disastrous outcomes of fascism and communism lasted long after the fall of the totalitarian regimes, deprived entire generations of inalienable rights and turned the transition to democracy into a difficult and painful process.     

The Day of Remembrance for Victims of Fascism and Communism forces us to reiterate our firm opposition to the two ideologies, with all their facets, to remember the innocent victims of the criminal regimes and to keep their memory unaltered.

Only a society knowing its history and assuming what was right and what was wrong with its past can prove it is able to strengthen its internal democracy. To pay tribute to the victims of the totalitarian regimes does not mean just commemorating them, but also taking firm action compliant with the principles of an authentic democracy. Remembrance forces us to be more determined in keeping the track of the fight against extremism, intolerance and oppression. Facing all the attempts to divide, to minimalize the crimes of fascism and communism, as well as in order to oppose those voices that deny the values of democracy and of the European civilisation, we have the duty to act vigilantly and firmly to defend and keep the values of the European civilisation unchanged.    

At the same time, we have to remember the crucial act that King Mihai I of Romania took 75 years ago, along with the brave Romanian army, joined by competent policy-makers and eminent diplomats, when he decided Romania’s withdrawal from an extremely toxic and dangerous alliance, thus saving our homeland and numerous lives. The event on 23 August 1944 will remain a great deed of courage in our recent history.  It is our duty to honour and remember all those who acted in good faith to save the Romanian state and for our return to the Euro-Atlantic values. Romania entering the Soviet area of influence and implicitly the age of communism, soon after it had just got rid of fascism, is an eloquent proof of a tragic destiny our nation shared with other European nations, in the last century.   

Throughout this bleak period in the history of our nation, those who opposed the totalitarian regimes with huge sacrifices, even paying their lives, fought for freedom and dignity with great bravery and civil spirit. We owe all these people and have the duty to honour their memory and never forget their heroism.    

We have to educate our future generations on how the fascist and communist regimes mutilated our history. Maybe the most important lesson of this tragedy, which the school textbooks cannot convey, is that peace and prosperity are not self-created and they do not represent permanent achievements. To meet these aspirations and particularly to be able to build a healthy democratic society, we have the right to know the historical truth and bear the responsibility to protect and promote the principles of democracy, of the rule of law, freedom, to observe and defend the fundamental rights.”

August 23, the day of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, was established by the European Parliament, by a Declaration in 2008, as the European Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Nazism and Communism. At the same time, in 2011, the Parliament of Romania, by Law no. 198, declared August 23 the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Fascism and Communism.