Moshe Kantor attends a series of high-level meetings with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece to address issues of concern to the European Jewish Community.
In a historic visit to Athens February 4 designed to strengthen Jewish-Greek relations, President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) Moshe Kantor met with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and other top governmental leaders.
In light of the country’s tragic history, wherein more than 85% of its Jewish citizens were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, Mr. Kantor inquired how Greece can be more involved in promoting Holocaust education and stem the growing tide of anti-Semitism and xenophobia that has affected the country in recent years.
In his meetings with the President and Prime Minister, Mr. Kantor, who was accompanied by EJC secretary general Serge Cwajgenbaum and president of the Greek Jewish community Moise Constantinis, showed support for legislation to stiffen the penalties for hate crimes. He also expressed concern about the rise of the Extreme Right Wing party within the Greek Parliament, a development that he sees as hindering efforts to promote tolerance within society.
Prior to the meetings, Mr. Kantor stated that Greece’s leadership is an important friend and ally to the Jewish community. “We deeply appreciate that Greece has leaders who can act as our partners on issues of concern to the European Jewish community. At a time when anti-Semitism and intolerance are again threatening the peace and tranquility in areas all across Europe, we embrace the dedication of leaders like Prime Minister Karamanlis and President Papoulis who commit themselves to actively addressing these issues. In addition, the European Jewish Congress is going to continue to work to help revitalize the Greek Jewish community, which lost a significant portion of its population during the Holocaust. Now is the time to help the community continue restoring its rich history and heritage and return it to its former glory.”
During his visit to Greece, the EJC and RJC President took part in a laying of wreaths at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Athens and at the Main Holocaust Commemoration Event, which was held in the evening in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic and many top Greek officials and prominent individuals.