On 23 August, during the pan-European Day of Remembrance for victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, an international conference titled 'Utopia unachieved despite millions victimized? Communist crimes and European memory' will take place in Tallinn, Estonia. The objective of the conference is to dissert communistic crimes, which were shadowed by other events, discuss its consequences and the possibility for a common European remembrance culture, in an international arena. A memorial for the victims of communism will be opened in Tallinn prior to the conference.
“The crimes of Nazism are largely investigated and acknowledged indubitably, which can’t be said about the crimes of communistic regimes which extend to almost every continent. This is caused by a shortage of international history education and discussion. Estonia is well informed about the crimes of communism, for it has touched most families, but it is important to acknowledge it internationally as well. Due to our past, Estonia carries a critical role in educating the general public about communism crimes,” said Sandra Vokk, board member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.
She says that European societies have different experiences with the 20th century totalitaritan ideologies. “Common European remembrance culture is the key to mutual understanding, it stands for the remembrance of all victims and the protection of freedom and humanity against similar manifestations today and tomorrow without double standards. The conference in Tallinn is therefore an important part of a pan-European historical debate,” said Vokk.
Besides debates, another important practice to conserve historical memory is visualizing historical facts. To see the names of more than 22 000 victims before you is another way of remembering. That is how many names the name plaques of the memorial bear, including the names of the executed officers and a dedicated monument to them. “The memorial for the victims of communism, that will be opened on the 23rd of August in Maarjamägi, Tallinn, is a final resting place for those whose burial places remain largely unknown. It is a place where the relatives of the deceased can remember their lost loved ones. While walking at the memorial, the visitors can experience the same journey the victims had to take – from a green home garden to a dark and grim place,” said Vokk.
The opening of the memorial is arranged by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Ministry of Justice, the Estonian Republic 100 team and supported by the Embassy of Germany in Estonia.
The international conference of the victims of the totalitarian regime on August 23rd will focus on the nature of the communist ideology, its goals and its consequences in history. The conference will also discuss the change of communism and its entry into the 21st century and the problem of ignoring the tragical historical experience.
Among the speakers are international names, such as writer and dramatist Sofi Oksanen, historian and Professor of History at the University of Toronto Andres Kasekamp, historian and Professor of History at the University of Exeter Richard Overy, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience Göran Lindbad, historian and vice-chairman of the Board of Memorial`s Scientific Research Centre Nikita Petrov.
Italian MEP Vincenzo Sofo joins the ECR Group
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament has decided to take on Italian MEP Vincenzo Sofo as a new member.
Mr Sofo was elected to the European Parliament in 2019. He was one of the three Italian candidates suspended pending the exit of the British Members. On February 1st 2020, Mr Sofo officially took his European Parliament seat. The ECR Group now holds 63 seats in the European Parliament.
After the meeting, ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto said: “I’d like to welcome Mr Sofo to our Group. He is a trained and competent colleague who has made a political choice consistent with his political path. We are sure that Mr Sofo MEP will be able to make a decisive contribution to the work of our Group, and to our alternative vision of the future of Europe, that is, a community of homelands and nations that cooperate in respect of our different identities and peculiarities.”
ECR Co-Chairman Ryszard Legutko said: “The decision of Mr Sofo shows that our political project, together with the strength of our ideas and our values, is credible and attractive, and from today even stronger and more able to give concrete answers to our citizens in terms of well-being, wealth and security.”
Following the decision, Sofo said: “The European Union is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history, not only from an economic point of view but also from a social and cultural point of view. Surely, it must be profoundly changed to be preserved. Considering the political forces grouped in the European Conservatives and Reformists, they are the ones most able to carry out this task.
“The Conference on the Future of Europe will be a crucial appointment for our Continent and the work that conservative forces will be able to do to correct the mistakes of the European project will be fundamental to straightening its path by strengthening our Nation states and values that have forged its spirit.”
EU imposes sanctions on Russians linked to Navalny poisoning and detention
The Council today(2 March) decided to impose restrictive measures on four Russian individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as widespread and systematic repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.
Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the Prosecutor-General, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service have been listed over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.
This is the first time that the EU imposes sanctions in the framework of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime which was established on 7 December 2020. The sanctions regime enables the EU to target those responsible for acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses such as torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions.
The restrictive measures that entered into force today in follow up to discussions by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 February 2021 consist of a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, persons and entities in the EU are forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
- Official Journal of the EU: Council Decision and Implementing Regulation concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses (including list of sanctioned individuals)
- Foreign Affairs Council, 22 February 2021
- Russia: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the arrest of Alexei Navalny upon his return, 18 January 2021
- EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime, 7 December 2020 press release
Nine EU-supported films compete in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival
The 71st Berlin International Film Festival began on 1 March, this year in its digital edition due to the coronavirus pandemicnine EU-supported films and series, three of which are competing for the highest prize, the Golden Bear: Memory Box by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Nebenan (Next Door) by Daniel Brühl, and Természetes fény (Natural Light) by Dénes Nagy. The EU supported the development and co-production of these nine titles with an investment of over €750 000 that was awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Targeted to film professionals and media, the Berlinale film festival is hosting the European Film Market, where the Creative Europe MEDIA programme is active with a virtual stand as well as with the European Film Forum. The Forum that will take place online on 2 March will gather various professionals from the industry to discuss the future perspectives for the audiovisual sector in Europe. The Berlinale will run until 5 March, when the winning films will be announced. The second round of this year's festival, ‘The Summer Special', will take place in June 2021 and will open the films to the public and host the official Award Ceremony. More information is available here.
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