Interventia dl. Bogdan Aurescu, Secretar de Stat in MAE la Conferinta de la Praga 30 iunie 2009

Distinguished Delegates,
It is an honor and pleasure for me to attend the International Conference on “Holocaust Era Assets” – such an important topic for all States present here, in Prague.Let me warmly congratulate the Czech EU Presidency for the initiative to host such an important conference. In the last 20 years, after the fall of the dictatorship, the Romanian society became aware of the need to come to terms with the legacy of the Holocaust. This included the thorough examination of the responsibilities of the Romanian authorities during the Second World War.In 2004, the Report of the International Committee for Study of the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by Elie Wiesel, was endorsed by the Romanian authorities, thus representing a benchmark in the process of assessment of this dark period in the history of mankind and of our country. This year will witness, hopefully, the building of the Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest.Another important step concerns the restitution of properties.In 2001, Romania enacted legislation establishing a restitution process for the private and communal property. The process has been improved in 2005 resulting in a more dynamic, simplified overall process. A National Authority on Property Restitution was established. The restitution in rem of the properties constitutes the main principle, but where impossible because of objective reasons, the Romanian legislation on the matter includes several measures aiming at restoring damages based on just and fair principles: compensation in other goods or services, or cash or titles to the Property Fund established by the Romanian authorities. The value of the compensation is updated to the market value, and these measures can be combined. It is worth noting that this legislation was also necessary in order to fulfil the political criterion for EU accession. The claims process proved to be complex. After the expiration of the claims filing deadline, Romania passed a new law that addressed many inadequacies in the private property claims program, in addition to a number of other problems. The “Caritatea” Foundation, jointly established by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania and the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, assumed responsibility for preparing and submitting communal claims, as well as for managing the returned properties. While acknowledging the length of the process and the difficulties encountered during it, we have to state that there is clear and firm political will in Romania to have the restitution process going on.Measures of social protection, available also for the Holocaust survivors and for the spouses of the Holocaust victims, are already available since 2000, when a piece of legislation providing for a monthly amount and other facilities was adopted. I would also like to mention that Romania was the first participating State to support, in 2002, the inclusion of combating anti-Semitism on the OSCE agenda. Two conferences were organised on this issue in Bucharest in 2007 and 2008.The Romanian authorities warmly salute the adoption of the Terezin Declaration, as an important document, and we are confident that the issues raised will be solved satisfactorily in the years to come.Lastly, there is an imperative need for cooperation in order for the objectives of the Declaration to be fulfilled. In this respect, I hope that our reunion today will be the starting point of an enhanced cooperation among the participant countries. To conclude, I would like to wish success to all the participants in their future activities aimed at implementing the Terezin Declaration, and I am looking forward to welcoming the concrete results of our today’s conference.Thank you.