18. 3. 200916:40

Third step towards European platform of memory and conscience – a Czech Presidency initiative, 18.3.2009

Third step towards European platform of memory and conscience – a Czech Presidency initiative
Today Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic Alexandr Vondra attends the public hearing "European Conscience and Crimes of Totalitarian Communism: 20 Years After” in the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels.

It is the third step towards the establishment of a European platform of memory and conscience to support the activities of institutions engaged in reconciling with totalitarian regimes in Europe. The other related possible steps include proclaiming 23 August a Remembrance Day for victims of Nazism and totalitarian Communism and strengthening the existing EU financial instruments in this field. Today’s hearing is open to the public.

Together with Ján Figeľ, European Commissioner, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Jan Zahradil, László Tökés and Jana Hybášková, Members of the European Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister will reflect on “How does Europe reconcile with its totalitarian legacy” in the session bearing the same name. The opening session of the hearing is entitled “Our Common History: A Common European Platform” (see the attached Programme and the Conclusions of the public hearing).

“In life one cannot have a good future without understanding and coming to terms with one’s own past. The same applies to Europe and its common memory. This is not an exercise for just one generation or one country but a continuous need for the whole of Europe. Only thus will we be able to better understand each other. Symbols such as the Iron Curtain still have tremendous power,” said Mr Vondra. “Knowing our past is also an essential tool to teach our children how to avoid intolerance, extremism and the recurrence of totalitarian rule in the future,” he added.

Today’s hearing is organised by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in cooperation with the Office of the Czech Government and a group of twelve MEPs from around Europe. The first two steps towards the European hearing were taken last year in Prague. The first one took place at the June international conference “European Conscience and Communism” in the Senate of the Czech Parliament, where the Prague Declaration was conceived. It has later been signed by almost 50 MEPs. The second step was the preparation workshop in November, at which representatives of 18 European countries met and agreed on the fundamental outline of the aforementioned platform and the necessity of international cooperation on the elucidation of the crimes of the totalitarian regimes that reigned in Europe.


Michaela Jelínková, spokesperson of the Deputy Prime Minister, tel.:+420 724 258 939;
Ondřej Karas, director European Affairs Information Department, +420724516813,
Jiří Reichel, spokesperson of The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, +420 725 787 524,