Speech by President of Georgia, Ms Salome Zourabichvili, on 28 January 2020, on the occasion of the Commemorative Ceremony to mark the International Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust

Mr President

Madam Secretary General

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Guests,

Yesterday marked 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. 75 years have gone by since one of humanity's most shameful moments closed its doors.

The Holocaust is the single most horrifying tragedy in the history of humankind. Millions of lives were lost, millions of human beings were murdered. Last week, I attended in Jerusalem the World Holocaust Forum with dozens of fellow world leaders. What I saw in Yad Vashem, standing on an international stage to pledge that humanity would never again go down such an evil path, was a humbling experience.

As I said, 75 years have gone by since one of humanity's most shameful moments closed its doors. But it is our responsibility to lock them. Anti-semitism is an illness that does damage not only to its target - one specific nation - but to every human who engages in spreading this hatred.

We must never forget what the Holocaust was. And we must never allow the forces of evil to spread anti-semitism in today's generations.

As President of Georgia, I am proud to represent a nation that has continuously maintained friendly relations with the Jewish people.

These friendly relations are not only the achievements of today's government, they are historical.

We are linked to the Jewish people through a friendship of 26 centuries and across our history, not a single instance of anti-semitism can be reported in our nation. As our Jewish friends say, Georgia is the only country that does not owe them an apology.

Tolerance is the key value necessary for a world at peace. Today's world continues to lack this value, but Georgia has never faltered from its course of respect, understanding, and tolerance. Rejecting anti-semitism is not enough to be proud, just as one should not be proud of not being a criminal. My pride lies in the friendship that our tolerance has gifted us.

I have proposed to include this very Georgian Tolerance into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List to enhance this tradition and show how much we hold this value dear.

It is an honour to be here, in Strasbourg, during such a memorable time. The values inscribed in the soul of Strasbourg, of Brussels, or today's Europe must be protected and preserved.

Only tolerance can lead us to peace and security, strengthen us while we tackle crucial challenges. Only tolerance can lead us to a better future.

Thank you.