President Niinistö visits Israel – attends the World Holocaust Forum

Close to 40 Heads of State and Government participated in the event at the invitation of President of Israel Reuven Rivlin. Photo: GPO

The President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö visited Israel 21–24 January 2020. During the visit, he attended the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.

The World Holocaust Forum was held at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem on Thursday 23 January to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. Close to 40 Heads of State and Government participated in the event at the invitation of President of Israel Reuven Rivlin. Previously, the forum has been held in Poland in 2005 and 2010, Ukraine in 2006 and the Czech Republic in 2015.

President Niinistö’s programme in Israel included a bilateral meeting with President Rivlin, dinner for the Heads of State and Government as well as other meetings. Aside from Jerusalem, President Niinistö visited Tel Aviv. The visit also celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Israel.

Statement of President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö to the World Holocaust Forum Conference

The Holocaust is one of the most brutal tragedies in world history. It must never be forgotten. On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, world leaders gather to Jerusalem to commemorate the victims, pay tribute to the survivors and to confirm our commitment to prevent anything similar from happening again.

The global community is obliged to work together to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and incitement to such acts. It is our duty as humans. Confronting antisemitism, racism and xenophobia requires common and determined action by all of us.

Finland plays an active role in strengthening the fight against antisemitism in our own country, within the European Union and internationally.

Hate crimes and hate speech against any ethnic or religious grouping are comprehensively criminalized in Finland. Yet legislation alone is not enough to combat hate crimes and antisemitism. We must ensure a democratic, safe and pluralistic society based on respect for each other and for human rights, tolerance and equality.

High-quality education for all children and young people is a key means of preventing antisemitism and other forms of discrimination. Finnish teachers have received training from Yad Vashem in educating about the Holocaust.

Finland’s foreign and security policy is based on the promotion of the values of human rights, the rule of law, democracy, peace, freedom, tolerance and equality. Freedom of religion and conscience play a significant role in human rights work. Promoting dialogue between religious communities forms an important part of Finnish peace mediation activities. Finland is one of the conveners of the first UN General Assembly Special Session on combating antisemitism.

Finland has strongly supported national and international research on the Holocaust. As a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Finland is committed to the remembrance of the crimes carried out during the Second World War. Finland has adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and is working to make use of it nationally, within the European Union as well as internationally.

Finally, we all have the responsibility to remember the Holocaust and make sure that by our own example we fight against all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia. We cannot let evil become banal. We owe it also to the future generations.

Sauli Niinistö