The European Parliament will this week vote on making 23 August a Europe-wide day of remembrance for 20th-century Nazi and communist crimes.
Europe needs to enlarge its “conscience and awareness” of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes last century by establishing a Europe-wide day of remembrance, argued MEPs from the centre-right EPP-ED group last week.
In their draft resolution on the issue, MEPs Tunne Kelam (Estonia), Jana Hybáškova (Czech Republic) and József Szájer (Hungary) asked EU governments and the European Commission to designate 23 August as a ‘European Day of Remembrance of the victims of Nazism and Communism’.
The parliamentarians also want the EU and member states to “contribute financially and politically to the establishment of a ‘Platform of European Memory and Conscience'”.
“To complete the building of our common European house, we need to create a balanced and integrated perception of our history,” explained Estonia’s Kelam.
The MEPs’ call echoes that of Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency. Vondra had told an earlier hearing (18 March) that the EU 27 should create a “single platform that would coordinate research into totalitarian regimes in member countries,” the Prague Daily Monitor reported.
Responding to suggestions that such an office could be hosted in Brussels and part-funded by the European Union, EU Culture Commissioner Jan Figel’ said finding the money was unlikely to be a problem, the newspaper reported.
The goal of such an information office would be to provide an “honest and open assessment” and “raise the public’s awareness” of “the causes and consequences of totalitarian regimes,” Deputy PM Vondra continued.
The public hearing had concluded that existing EU financial instruments to commemorate victims of Nazism and Stalinism should be strengthened, particularly under the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme.
Previous efforts to highlight the common identity and history of Europeans have stumbled on political or religious grounds (see EURACTIV LinksDossier on ‘European values and identity’), with reflections on Europe’s communist past a particularly sensitive issue for the left in the EU’s new member states.
MEPs will vote on the draft resolution on Thursday (2 April).