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23 August 2016
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EU justice ministers commemorate victims of totalitarian regimes

The Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU held a ministerial conference on 22 and 23 August to mark the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. The event was attended by representatives of the ministries of justice and national memory institutes of the EU Member States. Slovakia was represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice Lucia Žitňanská, who chaired the conference.

On Monday 22 August delegations commemorated the victims of totalitarian regimes at the Gate of Freedom memorial below Devín Castle. Ms Žitňanská opened the commemorative ceremony with a speech.

'There is no totalitarian regime without victims. Neither in the past nor in the future. Looking into history should help us learn from the mistakes of our ancestors so that we do not have to learn from our own in the future,' she said.

On Tuesday 23 August the conference continued with a working session in the Reduta building in Bratislava. The topic for the ministerial discussion panel was the issue of growing radicalisation in Europe. The panellists shared their best practices in the fight against radicalisation as regards prevention and enforcement and identified other measures at European level which could be useful in the fight against growing radicalisation. The panel was chaired by Ms Žitňanská, and European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics took part in the discussion.

'The problem of present-day Europe is not only the economic or security situation. The problem is also the inclination of a portion of the population towards anti-systemic and extremist groupings as a result of many processes where each and every one plays a certain role,' said Ms Žitňanská in her speech at the meeting, adding: 'It is very important to talk about these issues and try to find a solution so that the situation of the past century, when external and internal factors led to the creation of totalitarian regimes with the more or less tacit consent of the democratic majority, will not be repeated.'

The delegations participating in the conference adopted a joint statement in which they stressed their determination to protect democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Aware of the reasons leading to growing radicalisation, they agreed that society should stay alert to the intrusion of extremist tendencies and attitudes into politics, which may threaten our democracies and the rule of law.

The European Parliament issued a declaration in October 2008 in which it proposed that 23 August (the day on which the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in 1939) be proclaimed the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. This proposal was approved in 2009, and since then we have remembered the victims of totalitarian regimes annually on that day. The main purpose of the day is to preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and exterminations while strengthening democracy and reinforcing peace and stability in Europe.

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