Norway has assumed chairmanship of the Holocaust Task Force, and is approaching the task with humility: “We all have a duty to prevent anti-Semitism from ever regaining a foothold, either here or in any other country,” commented Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF) is made up of 26 countries that cooperate to promote education, research and remembrance activities concerning the persecution and genocide of European Jews during the WWII.
“We are approaching this task with humility and great seriousness, and with an awareness of the challenges we face. The Holocaust is a constant reminder of the terrible consequences of anti-Semitism in our recent past. Many people were guilty. We all have a responsibility. We all have a duty to prevent anti-Semitism from ever regaining a foothold, either here or in any other country,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
“The ITF is an important tool for helping ourselves and each other, individually and collectively, through active cooperation with schools, museums, memorial sites and research institutions,” the Foreign Minister added. The ITF was established in 1998, following an initiative taken by Sweden’s Prime Minister at that time, Göran Persson, in cooperation with U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Norway has been a member of the ITF since 2003.
Important knowledge network
Ambassador Tom Vraalsen is chairman of the ITF during the Norwegian chairmanship period, which lasts until March 2010. Norway has taken over the chairmanship from Austria, which has been commended for its efforts over the last year. In particular, Vraalsen emphasised how important it is that a permanent ITF office has been established in Berlin.
The ITF is an important knowledge network, and Norway supports closer cooperation with other important actors, such as the UN, the The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.
Two major meetings will be held during Norway’s chairmanship of the ITF, in Oslo and Trondheim, respectively. In June this year, the Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Oslo is organising the conference “Towards an Integrated Perspective on Nazi Policies of Mass Murder”, in collaboration with the ITF.