Barroso received Wallenberg Centennial Medal


– ECI proposes European Union “for all the others”

Tomas-Louise-BarrosoBrussels, 6th March, 2014 – On Tuesday, European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, received the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation ”Centennial Medal” on behalf of his late countryman, diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes. As Consul-General in Bordeaux, he was recognised for his heroic efforts in saving tens of thousands of Jews from the Nazis by issuing them with Portuguese passports. In his acceptance speech, fellow Portuguese citizen, European Commission President Barroso, commended the work ofRaoul Wallenberg and de Sousa as examples for our daily lives. The medal was also awarded for his work as European Commission President and his fight against antisemitism, xenophobia and racism as well as his work to promote human rights.

In a small private luncheon following the ceremony, ECI Director Tomas Sandell shared the history of ECI. The Coalition took its inspiration from the EU Emergency Summit on antisemitism in 2004, where Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel asked ”why it was still only Jews who were concerned about the rise of antisemitism in Europe”?  ‘Where are all the others?’ he asked.

Sandell explained how the European Coalition for Israel began as a “coalition of all the others”, meaning non-Jews. He suggested that the European Union should be a Union for “all the others”, including those Jews still living under the threat of growing antisemitism.
‘Raoul Wallenberg had no reason to care for “the others” – the Jews in Budapest – but he followed his inner conviction to reach out and help where help was needed, thus saving tens of thousands of Jews.

Sandell went on to say : ‘The motivation for this can be found in the words of Jesus, when he sums up the law and the prophets  in the golden rule – “Do to others as you would have others do to you” ’.

‘With all the directives and legislation coming out of this Commission building, let us add one more paragraph to the Lisbon Treaty – the Golden Rule’, Sandell suggested. ‘This is the same spirit represented by both Wallenberg and de Sousa’, he said.

In a separate meeting, Sandell and the two nieces of Raoul Wallenberg, Louise von Dardel and Marie Dupuy, met with the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Chizhov.  They asked for the assistance of the Russian authorities to examine documents from Russian archives in order to be able finally to determine the fate of Raoul Wallenberg. Wallenberg and his driver Wilmos Langfelder were captured by the Russians in 1945 but their fate has never been determined.

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution where they ask the Russian authorities ”to cooperate in opening up Russian archives, enabling access to researchers and declassifying relevant documents that might cast light on the fate of numerous persons who were imprisoned by Soviet security services at the end of World War II, including that of Raoul Wallenberg, who 70 years ago saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from genocide”.

In the picture, from left to right: Tomas Sandell, Louise von Dardel, José Manuel Barroso.

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